marie-claire with John Har Harbison May 19 2014Letter From John Harbison
marie-claire Giraud is an abundantly talented singer. Possessed of a genuine contralto voice and a magnetic stage presence, wide ranging in her musical skills and interests, she is a generous and memorable performer. I have been privileged to compose some music for her and hope the collaboration will continue.
-John Harbison
Institute Professor
Music and Theatre Arts, MIT
Chair, Composition, Tanglewood

 John Harbison

John Harbison, Institute Professor. M.F.A., Princeton University.

Composer John Harbison (b.1938) is among America’s most distinguished artistic figures. The recipient of numerous awards and honors (including the prestigious MacArthur Foundation’s “genius” award and the Pulitzer Prize), Harbison has composed music for most of America’s premiere musical institutions, including the Metropolitan Opera (The Great Gatsby, 1999), the Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. His works include four string quartets, five symphonies, a ballet, three operas, a cantata, and numerous chamber and choral works, more than sixty of which have been recorded on leading labels such as Harmonia Mundi, New World, Deutsche Grammophon, Albany, Centaur, Decca, and Koch. Recent major premieres includeSymphony No. 5 (Boston Symphony Orchestra), Gatsby Suite (Aspen Festival Orchestra), Milosz Songs (New York Philharmonic with Dawn Upshaw), Concerto for Bass Viol (for fifteen orchestras), But Mary Stood (Cantata Singers, Boston), and Umbrian Landscape (Chicago Chamber Musicians). Harbison’s present composition projects include a chamber ensemble setting of texts by Louise Glück (a Koussevitsky commission) and of Alice Munro (for the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra), as well as a double concerto for violin and ‘cello (for the Boston Symphony) and his fifth string quartet (for the Pro Arte Quartet). Mr. Harbison has been composer-in-residence with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the American Academy in Rome, and numerous festivals, including Tanglewood, Marlboro, and Aspen. He received degrees from Harvard and Princeton before joining the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is currently Institute Professor, the highest academic distinction offered resident faculty. He is Acting Artistic Director of Emmanuel Music (Boston), co-Artistic Director of the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival, and President of the Copland Fund. Harbison’s music is published exclusively by Associated Music Publishers. A complete works list can be found at