Meet Robert Kyr

Photo taken from “Peace Work” (Portland Monthly)
Photo by Stuart Mullenberg

Tomorrow (Friday, May 18th), Cappella Romana will kick off the weekend’s Be Radiant, O Peoples! series, and will be premiering works based around the Easter Canon of St. John of Damascus from contemporary composers. One of these works is by the prolific composer Robert Kyr, who we are introducing today:

Robert Kyr (b. 1952) has composed twelve symphonies, three chamber symphonies, three violin concerti, and numerous works for vocal ensemble of all types, both unaccompanied and accompanied, including many large-scale works for which he wrote or co-wrote the text, including: A Time for Life (an environmental oratorio, 2007); The Passion according to Four Evangelists (1995); and three choral symphonies—From Creation Unfolding (No. 8, 1998), The Spirit of Time (No. 9, 2000), and Ah Nagasaki: Ashes into Light (No. 10, 2005).

Kyr’s music has been performed widely around the world and he has been commissioned by numerous ensembles, including Chanticleer (San Francisco), Cappella Romana (Portland), Cantus (Minneapolis), San Francisco Symphony Chorus, New England Philharmonic, Oregon Symphony, Yale Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, New West Symphony (Los Angeles), Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum, Harvard Glee Club, Radcliffe Choral Society, 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), and San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra among others.

Several compact discs of Kyr’s music are currently available on New Albion Records: Unseen Rain (NA 075), a disc of vocal music commissioned and recorded by Ensemble PAN (Project Arts Nova); The Passion according to Four Evangelists (NA 098), commissioned and recorded by the Back Bay Chorale (Boston) under the direction of Beverly Taylor; and Violin Concerto Trilogy (NA 126) recorded by the Third Angle New Music Ensemble with Ron Blessinger and Denise Huizenga, and the composer conducting. In addition, his music has been featured on several compilation discs recorded by women’s vocal ensemble, Tapestry (Laurie Monahan, director): Celestial Light: Music by Hildegard von Bingen and Robert Kyr (Telarc CD 80456); Faces of a Woman (MDG 344-1468); and The Fourth River: The Millennium Revealed (Telarc CD 80534).

From 2000 through 2004, Kyr was the composer-in-residence of the Oregon Repertory Singers (Portland) under the direction of Gil Seeley. As part of the residency, he created an extensive repertoire of music on peace-related themes: Eight Steps for Peace; Into the Hour of New Life; The Bell Ringer; O Jerusalem; A Vision of Peace (three movements — United, Voices for Peace, and Only One World); Three Hopes for the Future (three movements—May All Living Things Know Peace, Hold onto Peace, and Peace Is a Song); Alleluia (Alleluia for Peace); and Sing Circle. In addition, he also composed a large-scale motet cycle, On the Nature of Creation. For most of these works, he wrote his own text or created a composite text from diverse sources.

Currently, Kyr is a professor of composition and theory at the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance, and chair of the composition department, where he has developed new models for teaching composition. The program at Oregon is presently one of the largest in the United States and in addition to teaching, Kyr directs the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium, the Music Today Festival, and the Vanguard Concert and Workshop Series, as well as the Pacific Rim Gamelan.

Hear Robert Kyr’s new work during the Be Radiant, O Peoples! Tour:

The Easter Canon of St. John of Damascus (8th cent.)

World premieres by: Tikey Zes, John Vergin, Richard Toensing, Ivan Moody, Peter Michaelides, and Robert Kyr.

Lincoln City
Fri., May 18, 2012, 7 pm
Lincoln City Cultural Center, 540 NW Hwy 101
Presented by José Solano; made possible in part by
The Oregon Cultural Trust. Tickets 541-994-9994.

Sat., May 19, 2012, 8 pm
St. Mary’s Cathedral, 1739 NW Couch St (at 18th)

Sun., May 20, 2012, 4 pm (matinée)
St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church
2100 Boyer Ave E, Seattle

Prices start at $25. Purchase Tickets Directly or call 800-494-8497 (phone service fee applies)

Discounts students, seniors, & Arts for All and student rush at door. Pre-concert talks one hour prior to concerts in Portland and Seattle.