Andrew McManus’ (b. 1985) orchestral work Strobe, premiered in June 2014 by the New York Philharmonic, was called “riveting” and “breathless…surging…hazy…sometimes all at once” by the New York Times. In May 2014 his opera Killing the Goat was premiered by eighth blackbird, the Pacifica Quartet and members of the Contempo Chamber Players at the University of Chicago. Based on the novel La Fiesta del Chivo (The Feast of the Goat) by Mario Vargas Llosa, the opera follows a Dominican woman as she confronts her decades-old traumatic memories of the Trujillo regime. In August 2014 the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble performed a chamber suite from the opera at the Aspen Music Festival and School in Aspen, CO. Opera figures prominently in his other works: in July 2015 Alarm Will Sound premiered embers, fused to ash, an amalgamation of Wagner’s “Magic Fire Music” with an assortment of other fire-based images, at the Mizzou International Composers Festival. In 2013 Ancient Vigils, a New York Youth Symphony First Music Commission, was premiered at Carnegie Hall in New York City. This piano quintet is a restive, distorted tapestry of complex bell sonorities, Renaissance dance rhythms, faded religious imagery and viol consorts. Ancient Vigils was also performed by the Spektral Quartet in May 2014.
His other orchestral works include Identity (2008), premiered at the 2008 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, and The Concerto of Deliverance (2010), read by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and premiered by the University of Oklahoma Symphony. He is also a creator of electronic music. His playback work Mesospherics (2013) weaves together a diverse collection of sounds that range from beautiful, vivid and scintillating to rough, unwieldy and cacophonous. Neurosonics I (2015), a collaboration with a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago, creates similarly strange soundscapes using data from experiments that study the electrical patterns of rat neurons. In 2016 New Music USA funded a continuation of the project: a new work for the Spektral Quartet and electronic playback set for premiere in May 2017 in Chicago.
Other works have been performed at the Wellesley Composers Conference (2012), the Bowdoin International Music Festival (2013), and CULTIVATE (2015), a festival at the Aaron Copland House in New York. A native of Massachusetts, he holds a PhD from the University of Chicago, where he studied with Marta Ptaszyńska, Shulamit Ran, Augusta Read Thomas and Howard Sandroff. He also holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and Yale University. He is currently an adjunct instructor at St. Xavier University in Chicago.
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