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“Gloria Coates has created symphonies with the compelling intellectual and expressive power equal to the great symphonic composers of the Old World, but with the vivid imagination and freedom of an artist from America.”
Rheinischer Merkur, Germany, H. Malcomess
‘Music on Open Strings’ “Symphony No. 1” was one of the 10 finalists for the 1986 International Koussevitzsky Award (KIRA). Composed in 1973, it was premiered on the Warsaw Autumn Festival in 1978 by the Polish Chamber Orchester under Jerzy Maksymiuk, and proclaimed throughout the press as the high point of the festival for its originality. In 1980 it was the first time in the 35 year history of Musica Viva that an orchestral work by a woman was performed.
"Gloria Coates is one of the most startlingly individual figures on the contemporary music scene. Most superficially, she is the most prolific female symphonist in history. More significantly, she has made a career out of the slow glissando in orchestral and ensemble music. To avoid caricature, this latter point requires amplification. The elements of Coates’s music are generally few in number, easily described, often odd, and oddly combined, giving her music an instantly recognizable profile. One recurring element is slow string glissandos. Another is wavery textures of faster glissandos, at varying rates. Another is conventionally tonal chorale writing, often quoting previous music. Another is simple, even march-like rhythmic patterns, sometimes offset within her favorite 5/4 meter. The essence of Coates’s music is not any one of these elements, but their juxtaposition and combination sometimes even their indistinguishable fusion into some of the strangest textures in recent music. She brings together the straight and the curved, the familiar and the weird, the hard-edged and the vague, the tonal and the beyond-atonal, and sets us down in musical landscapes which disallow our usual figure-ground experiences of focusing within a musical texture."
Quotation from ‘Gloria Coates and the Fusion of Irreconcilables’ by Kyle Gann
Having lived in Europe for the past 3 decades, it is only in recent years that her music has reached a larger audience, primarily by past live performances now being heard on major labels such as Naxos and CPO. Her recent disc with her “Symphony No. 15” climbed to No. 1 on the E - Music - classical downloading charts in all categories February 2008.
Gloria Coates’ music has been featured in such publications as “The Wire” being 3 times on the best of the year lists, the ‘New York Times’, ‘Los Angeles Times’, ‘BBC Music Magazine’ with 5 stars, ‘Village Voice’ with Pick Hit, Gramophone, Critics’ Choice on ‘Billboard Magazine” , ‘Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’, among others.
Born in Wausau, Wisconsin, Gloria Coates began composing at an early age, winning a National Federation of Music Clubs Composition Contest at the age of twelve. After earning a Masters of Music Degree in Composition at Louisiana State University, she continued postgraduate studies in composition at Columbia University with Otto Luening and Jack Beeson. From 1975 to 1983 she taught for the University of Wisconsin’s International Programs and initiated the music program in London and Munich. Gloria Coates has been invited to lecture on her music with concerts at Harvard, Brown, Princeton, the University of Wisconsin Madison (with master-classes), Torun, Poland, the College of Music Munich, and in India at the Max Mueller Bavahns of New Delhi, Calcutta and Bombay.
Her music has been heard at the Warsaw Autumn Festival, Dresden Festival, New Music America — New York 1989, the Passau International Festival, the Dartington Festival in England, the Montepulciano Festival Italy, the New York Microtonal Festival, Aspeckte Festival Salzburg, and at the March Music — Berlin Festival 2004 and others. The music of Gloria Coates has been performed by leading soloists and ensembles, such as the Kronos Quartet, the Kreuzer Quartet, Crash Ensemble Dublin, New Century Chamber Orchestra — San Francisco, City of London Sinfonia, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony, Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, St Paul Chamber Orchestra, Stuttgart Philharmonic, Munich Chamber Orchestra, and the Polish Chamber Orchestra, Her canon of work includes compositions for orchestra, with fifteen symphonies, chamber music, of which there are nine string quartets, solo pieces, vocal and choral music for orchestra and ensembles, electronic works, as well as music for the theatre.
CDs: Naxos (7), CPO ( 2), Cavalli (2), New World Records, BIS, Musicaphone, Pitch,
ProViva, Troubadisc, Beyer Records, and Cambria.
Books: MGG(Musik Geschichte und Gegenwart), The New Groves, Bakers Music Encyclopedia, Who’s Who in the World, International Who’s Who in Music,