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Robert Kyr

Robert Kyr (b. 1952) is a composer, writer, and filmmaker. He has created twelve symphonies, three chamber symphonies, three violin concerti, chamber music, and a wide range of works for vocal ensembles of all types. He has received commissions from numerous music organizations including Chanticleer (San Francisco), Cantus (Minneapolis), San Francisco Symphony Chorus, New England Philharmonic, Oregon Symphony, Yale Symphony, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, New West Symphony (Los Angeles), Third Angle (Portland), California EAR Unit (Los Angeles), Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum, Yale Camerata, Oregon Repertory Singers, Cappella Nova (Scotland), Revalia (Estonia), Putni (Latvia), Moscow State Chamber Choir (Russia), Ensemble Project Ars Nova, Back Bay Chorale (Boston), Harvard Glee Club, Radcliffe Choral Society, and San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra among others. Kyr’s music has been commissioned through many foundations and organizations, including Paul G. Allen Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Meet the Composer, Chamber Music America, Scottish Arts Council, Canada Council, Estonian Choral Society, Nagasaki Peace Museum, Telarc International, Chase Foundation (Boston), New England Foundation for the Arts, Hopkins Arts Center (Dartmouth), Oregon Regional Arts and Culture Council, Oregon Humanities Center, and Massachusetts Council for the Arts and Humanities. Three compact discs of Kyr’s music are currently available through New Albion Records: Violin Concerto Trilogy (NA 126); Unseen Rain (NA 075), and The Passion according to Four Evangelists (NA 098). In addition, his music has been featured on several compilation discs including Faces of a Woman (MDG 344-1468), Celestial Light: Music by Hildegard von Bingen and Robert Kyr (Telarc CD 80456), The Fourth River: The Millennium Revealed (Telarc CD 80534), and Strange Attractors: New American Music for Piano (Albany Records CD TROY 231). Kyr holds degrees from Yale (B.A., 1974), University of Pennsylvania (M.A., 1978), and Harvard (Ph.D., 1989). He has held teaching positions in composition and theory at Yale, UCLA, Hartt School of Music, Aspen Music School, and the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he was the Director of Compositional Studies. Currently, he is Professor of Composition and Theory at the University of Oregon School of Music, where he has developed new models for teaching composition. In addition to teaching, Kyr directs the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium, the Music Today Festival, the Pacific Rim Gamelan, and the Vanguard Concert and Series. (Photo Tom Forgas)
Music by Robert Kyr

Recorded June 2013 at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi Performing Arts Center, Corpus Christi, TX

Craig Hella Johnson leads Conspirare, soprano Estelí Gomez, baritone David Farwig, and the Victoria Bach Festival string orchestra in this first recording of three choral works by Robert Kyr. Exploring the relationship between human and divine love, his cantatas The Cloud of Unknowing (2013) and Songs of the Soul (2011) transfixed audiences and critics alike when Conspirare premiered them. – from Harmonia Mundi package notes

Funded in part by the Aaron Copland Fund for Music

“A powerful new achievement in American music that vividly traces a journey from despair to transcendence.” — The Wall Street Journal, concert review

“What a fine choir this is… This is an impressive disc all round with some of the finest contemporary choral music around. The performances are superb.” —Bruce Reader, The Classical Reviewer

“Beautiful music magnificently done.” — The Buffalo News, CD review

“This music sounds both timeless and contemporary, and harks back to the florid style of J. S. Bach and earlier… an album of sublime music, superbly sung. — Tom Huizenga, npr.org

Fanfare Magazine interview with Robert Kyr, January 2014 (pdf)


  1. THE SINGER’S ODE (2012)

THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING (2013)

PART I: SONGS OF NIGHT

  1. I. Unknowing
  2. II. Fearing
  3. III. Forgetting
  4. IV. Longing

PART II. SONGS OF DAWN

  1. I. Waiting
  2. II. Thinking
  3. III. Beseeching
  4. IV. Piercing
  5. V. Surrendering
  6. VI. Enduring

SONGS OF THE SOUL (2011)

  1. I. Descending: From the Abyss
  2. II. Venturing: On a Dark Night
  3. III. Hoping: Toward Dawn
  4. IV. Transforming: Beloved into Lover
  5. V. Arising: A Time for Song
  6. VI. Uniting: Leaving My Cares
  7. VII. Transcending: And Love Remains