July 2–6, 2017
Presented by the
RCCO, & CIOC
Pre & post-festival activities July 1st and 7th
Graham Gordon Ramsay is in demand as a creator of instrumental and vocal works for venues throughout the Americas and Europe. Born in California in 1962, Ramsay studied music at the Tanglewood Institute, Boston University, and the Fontainebleau School in France. His composition teachers have included such masters as Robert Sirota, Joyce McKeel, Theodore Antoniou, David Del Tredici, Narcis Bonet, and Andrew Thomas.
Ramsay has received commissions from numerous solo performers and ensembles including the Burgett Ensemble, the Seraphim Singers, and American Classics. In recent years he has been commissioned to create liturgical works for the choirs of King’s Chapel in Boston, St Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Providence, Rhode Island, and St. Thomas More Church in New York City, among others.
He is the recipient of various grants and awards, including a Massachusetts Institute of Technology Council for the Arts grant and first prize in the 2003 Roger Wagner Contemporary Choral Composition Competition for his setting of Psalm 121 for chorus and solo violin.
His discography includes two albums devoted to his compositions on the Albany Records label: The Sacred Voice: Heinrich Christensen Conducts Sacred Vocal Works by Graham Gordon Ramsay (2011) and Compendium: Selected Solo Instrumental Works (2013). His scores are distributed through the Subito Music Corporation.
Ramsay’s vocal and instrumental works incorporate a strong sense of line and lyricism, reflecting his studies in classical vocal technique. His compositions are crafted with a clear and conscious focus on the relationship between composer, performer, and audience, and he tailors his compositions to draw on the unique strengths of specific performers and ensembles.
A 2013 review in Fanfare Magazine says: “Ramsay’s attentiveness to the complete range of possibilities of the instruments allows all the music to unfold with tremendous naturalness while never seeking simply to exploit instrumental techniques for their own sake. It is carefully made, thoughtful music that impresses with its balance between depth of content and expressive effect.”
Another reviewer states: “Certain composers of modern classical music abandon melody, rhythm, and even tonality in an effort to discomfit; they hope to jar the listener into questioning the nature and meaning of music through brute force. Graham Gordon Ramsay is not one of those composers. He does something that’s perhaps even more difficult. He achieves freshness and conveys emotion by invoking a familiar musical vocabulary, then poking, stretching, and inverting it in delightful and unexpected ways. We’re invited to listen and re-listen to his pieces, finally coming away with a sense that we’ve learned something through a genuine interaction rather than an aural assault.”
Watch organist Christian Lane discuss the new commission from Graham Gordon Ramsay: