Robert Paterson (composer)

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Robert Paterson (born 29 April 1970) is an American composer, percussionist and conductor.


Paterson was born in Buffalo, New York and is the son of Tony Paterson, a sculptor, and Eleanor Paterson (a painter) and bilingual education administrator. He studied composition with Christopher Rouse, Samuel Adler, Joseph Schwantner, Warren Benson and David Liptak at the Eastman School of Music, graduating in 1995. At Eastman, he was a double major and studied percussion with John Beck. He received a Master's Degree in Composition in 2001 from Indiana University, where he studied with Frederick Fox and Eugene O'Brien. In 2004, he received a DMA in Music Composition from Cornell University where he studied with Steven Stucky and Roberto Sierra. He also studied privately with Aaron Jay Kernis at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in 2000, and in 1999 he studied with John Harbison and Bernard Rands at the Aspen Summer Festival, as part of the Advanced Master Class and as the recipient of the Second ASCAP Aspen Film Fellowship. Paterson's music has been performed throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa. His music is influenced by nature, rock and roll, jazz, world music and the music of other classical composers.

Paterson's performances and commissions include works for such internationally acclaimed ensembles as the Louisville Orchestra, Vermont Symphony Orchestra, Quintet of the Americas, the Chamber Choir of Europe and the Volti choir of San Francisco. Other ensembles that have performed Paterson's works include The New York New Music Ensemble, Fireworks Ensemble, MAYA, Da Capo Chamber Players, California EAR Unit, Cygnus, Ensemble Aleph (Paris), Ensemble Nouvelles Consonances (Belgium), the Kairos String Quartet, the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, the Russian Chamber Orchestra, the MANCA Festival presented by the Centre National de Creation Musicale (CIRM) and the June in Buffalo new music festival.

Paterson is the Classical Recording Foundation 2011 Composer of The Year for his album The Book of Goddesses. He has received fellowships and residencies from the MacDowell Colony, Aspen Music Festival, Cornell University and Atlantic Center for the Arts, in addition to grants and awards from Meet The Composer, the American Music Center, ASCAP, the American Composers Forum, the Jerome Composers Commissioning Program, the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts, the Copland Award and the Society for New Music's Brian M. Israel Prize. Paterson appears on recordings for American Modern Recordings (AMR), Mode Records, Bridge Records, Centaur Records, Capstone, and Riax.

As well as being a composer, Paterson is also a percussionist and has "been instrumental in the commissioning of six-mallet works for solo marimba" and has to date, written fourteen works using a six-mallet technique (extended technique) he developed.[1]

Paterson is founder and artistic director of the American Modern Ensemble and lives in New York, New York with his wife Victoria Paterson, a violinist and their son Dylan.

Complete works[edit]

Orchestra/Chamber Orchestra/Sinfonietta[edit]

  • A New Eaarth (2012) (orchestra, chorus and narrator)
  • Closet Full of Demons (2000–01)
  • Dark Mountains (2011)
  • Electric Lines (2002–03/04, awarded the Louisville Orchestra Composition Contest prize in 2005)
  • Enlightened City (2005)
  • Slightly Comic Overture (1995–96)
  • Suite for String Orchestra (2001)
  • Symphony in Three Movements (2002)

Symphonic Band/Wind Ensemble[edit]

  • Crimson Earth (1997–99/2004)
  • Firecracker Alley (2013–14)

Mixed Chamber Ensemble[edit]

  • Eating Variations (2006) for baritone, flute, clarinet, violin, cello and percussion
  • Embracing the Wind (1999) for flute, viola and harp
  • Freya’s Tears (2010–11) for violin and harp
  • Looney Tunes (2006–07) for flute, saxophone, violin, cello, electric guitar, electric bass, percussion and piano
  • Pegasus (2013) for flute and harp
  • Skylights (2000) for clarinet, violin, cello and piano
  • Quintus (1996, awarded the Society of New Music's Brian Israel Prize in 1999) for clarinet, violin, cello, marimba and piano
  • Scorpion Tales (2012) for two harps
  • Sextet (1999, awarded the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer's Award in 2000) for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion and piano
  • Shard (2013) for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion and piano (in-progress)
  • Star Crossing (1999, awarded the Tampa Bay Composers Forum First Prize for Excellence in Chamber Music Composition in 2001) for flute, clarinet, percussion and piano
  • Sun Trio (1995), for violin, cello and piano (movement II from Sun Trio) (1995, awarded the Finger Lakes Chamber Ensemble New Music Competition award in 2001)
  • The Book of Goddesses (2010, awarded the Classical Recording Foundation "Composer of The Year" award in 2011) for flute, harp and percussion
  • The Thin Ice of Your Fragile Mind (2004) for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion and piano
  • Up North (1994) for clarinet, violin, cello, percussion and piano
  • Winter Songs (2000/2007–08) for bass-baritone and sextet


  • Elegy (2006–07) for two bassoons and piano
  • Sonata for Bassoon and Piano (2001)
  • Wind Quintet (2000/2003–04)


  • Expressions (1989) for trumpet and piano
  • Fanfare (1997) for trumpet sextet
  • Fantasia (1997) for tuba and marimba
  • Overture for Brass Quintet (1990)


  • Elegy (2006–07/2008) for two cellos and piano (transcription of work for two bassoons and piano)
  • Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano (2003, awarded the Auros Group for New Music Eight Annual Competition prize in 2005)
  • String Quartet No. 1 (1996–97, awarded the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award in 1998)


  • Christmas Time (1990) for keyboard percussion ensemble
  • Excerptia Overture (1991) for keyboard percussion ensemble
  • Helter Skelter (1984) for percussion quartet
  • Humanus Ex Machina (1989) for percussion ensemble
  • Komodo (2004) for solo marimba(uses six-mallets)
  • Mandala (2012) for two marimbas
  • Merry Go Round (1988–90) for solo marimba (uses six-mallets)
  • Piranha (2007) for solo marimba (uses six-mallets)
  • Postludes Nos. 1-3 (1990–93) for solo marimba (uses six-mallets)
  • Prison Cell (1989/2008) for two percussionists
  • Sabulum Reptilia (1985) for percussion ensemble
  • Stealing Thunder (1999–2000) for percussion ensemble and recording
  • That's Amore (1992) for keyboard percussion ensemble
  • Voices (1988) for 12 clappers

Marimba with one instrument[edit]

  • Braids (1998/2000) for violin and marimba (uses six-mallets)
  • Clarinatrix (2011)for bass clarinet and marimba (uses six-mallets)
  • Duo for Flute and Marimba (1998–99) (uses four, five and six-mallets)
  • Fantasia for Tuba & Marimba (1992) (uses six-mallets)
  • Links & Chains (1996/2000 )for violin and marimba (uses six-mallets)
  • Stillness (2011) for oboe and marimba (uses six-mallets)
  • Tongue and Groove (2008–09) for alto saxophone and marimba (uses six-mallets)
  • Tongue and Groove (2009) for alto saxophone and marimba (uses four-mallets)


  • Deep Blue Ocean (2010) (for two pianos)
  • Joy Ride (2011) for solo piano
  • Meditation (1997) for solo organ
  • Variations & Fantasies on an Accordion Song (1995) for solo piano


  • A Dream Within A Dream (2010)
  • Did You Hear? (2010)
  • Eternal Reflections (2010)
  • Four Walden Canons (1999)
  • Life is But a Dream (2010)
  • Snow Day (2014)
  • Suite from A New Eaarth (2012) (chorus with piano)
  • The Essence of Gravity (2004–05)


  • CAPTCHA (2013) for baritone and piano
  • Eating Variations (2006) for baritone, flute, clarinet, violin, cello and percussion
  • Ghost Theater (2013) for two female singers, large chamber ensemble and optional film
  • Batter's Box (2005) for tenor and piano
  • The Biographies of Solitude (1990) for soprano, viola and cello
  • Thursday (1999) for soprano and piano
  • Winter Songs (2000/2007–08) for bass-baritone and sextet

Film score[edit]

  • Journey Into Courage Film Score/Suite (1994–95) (percussion part uses six-mallets)


  1. ^ Jones, Timothy, A Survey of Artists and Literature Employing Extended Multiple Mallets in Keyboard Percussion; Its Evolution, Resulting Techniques and Pedagogical Guide, Doctoral Dissertation, College of Fine Arts, Graduate College, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, August 2003, p. 15.

External links[edit]