Fellow: Awarded 2018
Field of Study: Music Composition
Competition: US & Canada
A composer of music of "high drama" and "intense emotion" (BBC), "at once, ingenious, hypnotic, brave, and beautiful” (Festival Internazionale A.F. Lavagnino), Eugene Birman (b. 1987) has written for symphony orchestras (London Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra), choirs (BBC Singers, Latvian Radio Choir, Eric Ericsons Kammarkör), and leading ensembles and soloists (Maxim Vengerov, Divertimento Ensemble, Quartetto Prometeo) across four continents in venues ranging from London's Southbank Centre to Carnegie Hall to above the Arctic Circle. His music, characterized by a fearless focus on socially relevant large-scale compositions, has graced the pages of the world’s most important publications (La Repubblica, Le Monde, National Geographic, NYTimes, WSJ, The Independent) and media (BBC World TV, CNN, “All Things Considered” with Robert Siegel on NPR, Radio France).
Upcoming premieres with the Philharmonia Orchestra (UK), Ensemble YXUS (EE), Third Sound (USA) with choreographer James Sofranko (USA), Ruthless Jabiru (UK) as part of a Sound and Music Portfolio residency, and saxophone virtuoso Guido de Flaviis (GR/IT) are only a small selection from the composer's "booming career" (Festival van Vlaanderen). The resulting music is diverse, impossible to predict, obsessive in its impenetrability and originality, “skirting the boundary of pleasure and pain” (British Music Collection). Inspired by such disparate elements as Korean folk song and watercolor painting, and the musical language of his native Baltic region, his music displays a sinuous integration of potential energy and color, framed in cold, naturalistic landscapes.
A former student of John Adams, Samuel Adler, Luis Bacalov, David Conte, Azio Corghi, and Christopher Rouse, Eugene Birman was awarded a D.Phil from the University of Oxford, Christ Church, under the generous support of the Stone-Mallabar Foundation and the American Friends of Christ Church. He graduated with an M.M. degree from the Juilliard School, where he was awarded the A. Ellstein Memorial Scholarship, the Rodgers and Hammerstein Scholarship, and the Gretchaninoff Prize. He holds a B.A. in Economics from Columbia University, as well as a Diploma di Merito from the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy. He is a laureate of numerous international and national (UK, US) awards, including the Royal Philharmonic Society Compposition Prize, the Young Composer's Award from the European network for professional chamber choirs - TENSO, the 1st prize of the Concorso Internazionale di Composizione "Lavagnino 2007", and others from Banco Santander, NFAA, ASCAP, Collage New Music, the University of Louisville, University of Oxford, Accademia Musicale Chigiana, the Juilliard School, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, among others. He is also an alumnus of the Fulbright grant program, having received a 2010-11 full grant for studies in Estonia with Toivo Tulev.
Profile photograph by Kaupo Kikkas