Robert Paterson, Composer

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Robert Paterson
Photo: Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

“Robert Paterson could probably set a telephone book to music and create something that captivates.”  ~Gramophone

Robert Paterson’s music has been praised for its elegance, wit, rhythmic vitality, and wonderful sense of color that “often seems to shimmer.”  In the 2016-17 season he will have the first evening-length, fully-staged opera production of his career:  Three Way, a trio of comic operas with libretto by David Cote “about craving and connection,” co-produced by Nashville Opera and American Opera Projects, will have its world premiere in Nashville and its New York premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Paterson’s music has been performed by the Louisville Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Austin Symphony, Vermont Symphony, New York New Music Ensemble, California EAR Unit, and Ensemble Aleph in Paris. In 2011, he was named Composer of The Year by the Classical Recording Foundation with a performance and celebration at Carnegie’s Weill Hall. His music is featured in more than 20 recordings and has been on the Grammy® ballot annually since 2012.

Recent performances of Paterson’s works include Ghost Theater, commissioned by the Albany Symphony, Dark Mountains with Jaime Laredo and the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, and A Dream Within a Dream, commissioned by the Chamber Choir of Europe. His work The Book of Goddesses, performed by the ensemble MAYA on recording, was named one of the Top 10 favorite pieces of the year by NPR’s Best Music of 2012; his most recent recording is the highly-praised Eternal Reflections, a disc of choral music performed by Musica Sacra conducted by Kent Tritle. He is the founder and artistic director of American Modern Ensemble, and he directs the affiliated record label, American Modern Recordings (AMR), which is distributed by Naxos.

Last season’s highlights include the New York premiere of his opera The Whole Truth with a libretto by Mark Campbell, showcased at Opera America. Walt’s America, a work for soprano, baritone, and chorus, was premiered by the Gulf Coast Symphony, Moon Music by the Claremont Trio, and Graffiti Canons by the Volti choir of San Francisco. His work I See You for string orchestra was performed by an all-star orchestra, conducted by Delta David Gier, consisting of the JACK Quartet, Del Sol Quartet, PUBLIQuartet and string players from the American Modern Ensemble in 2015. In Aspen, Shine received its world premiere performance by the American Brass Quintet, which is continuing to feature the work on its tour programs.

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Latest News

  • American Modern Recordings Presents Auréole – Embracing the Wind, a new CD of works by Paul Ben-Haim, Ian Krouse, Lior Navok, and Robert Paterson – Press release
  • Read about Mostly Modern Festival in the Albany Times-Union, Saratoga Living, and the Saratogian, and listen to interviews with Robert Paterson on WAMC and WMHT.
  • Mostly Modern Festival Update: Full Programs Announced for Inaugural Festival in June 2018 – Press release
  • American Modern Ensemble Presents Vocal Music of Robert Paterson at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall April 26, 2018 – Press release
  • Mostly Modern Festival Update: Inaugural Festival Launches with Eight Concerts in June 2018 – Press release
  • American Modern Recordings Releases the Original Cast Recording of Robert Paterson’s Three Way on November 17, 2017 – Press release
  • American Modern Ensemble at National Sawdust on November 1, 2017 – “Lingua Franca” – Press release
  • MOSTLY MODERN FESTIVAL, A New Festival for the Music of Our Time, Launches June 2018 – Press release
  • “Three Way is an excellent comic opera that will appeal to audiences well steeped in opera as well as those who—as with Masquerade’s Jessie and Marcus—are new to the experience.” –Opera News review, September 2017
  • Acclaim for Three Way in Voce di meche, Parterre Box, Musical America, Gay City News
  • Feature coverage of Three Way in NewMusicBoxFollow KellowThe Log Journal
  • Three Way, A Trio of Comic Operas by Robert Paterson – New York Premiere June 15-18, 2017, at BAM – Press release
  • American Modern Ensemble’s Voice of America Program Features Paterson’s In Real Life and More, April 27, 2017 – Press release
  • Review of Spheres in Gramophone magazine
  • Critical acclaim for Nashville Opera’s premiere of Three Way from Schmopera and The Tennessean
  • Three Way, A Trio of Comic Operas by Robert Paterson, Premieres in 2017 – Press release
  • Spheres – Claremont Trio Performs Music of Robert Paterson – a New Disc from American Modern Recordings – Dec. 6, 2016 – Press release
    *World Premiere Production of Three Way, a Trio of One-Act Comic Operas Co-Produced by the Nashville Opera Association & American Opera Projects
    *New Recordings of His Music by American Brass Quintet and Aureole Trio, and An All-Paterson Album by the Claremont Trio
    *Premieres Performed by the American Modern Ensemble, Duo Scorpio, New Amsterdam Singers, and Cayuga Vocal Ensemble
    Press release

High-Res Photo for Download


Spheres, Claremont Trio Performs Music of Robert Paterson

Photo: Lisa-Marie Mazzucco 



Victoria & Robert Paterson, photo by Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

Arthur Zankel Music Center, photo by Andy Camp







More photos available at

Photos of Three Way:

“The Companion,” Act I of “Three Way,” photo by Anthony Popolo

Eliza Bonet in “Safe Word,” Act II of “Three Way,” photo by Anthony Popolo

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