Gregory Spears writes instrumental and vocal music that blends together stylistic aspects of romanticism, minimalism, and early music. His work has been called “astonishingly beautiful” (New York Times), “coolly entrancing” (The New Yorker), and “some of the most beautifully unsettling music to appear in recent memory.” (The Boston Globe)
His music has been performed by Houston Grand Opera (HGOco), the American Composers Orchestra, American Opera Projects, Center City Opera Theater, Opera Index, the NOW Ensemble (MATA), Present Music Ensemble, So Percussion, the Sebastian Chamber Players, the Eighth Blackbird Ensemble, and members of the Los Angeles Opera Domingo-Thornton Young Artists Program. Spears was recently commissioned by poet Tracy K. Smith to write two new songs for the 2011 Rolex Arts Weekend at the New York Public Library and by the JACK Quartet to write a piece based on his experience as composer-in-residence at the Buttonwood Psychiatric Unit in New Jersey. Other commissions have come from OPERA America, the Present Music Ensemble, countertenor Ryland Angel, choreographer Christopher Williams and Houston Grand Opera (HGOco). New Amsterdam Records released his early music-inspired chamber Requiem to critical acclaim in 2011. Selected chamber works are published by Project Schott NY (PSNY).
Current projects include a new collaborative dance opera (Wolf-in-Skins) with choreographer Christopher Williams and an evening-length opera based on the novel Fellow Travelers written in collaboration with playwright Greg Pierce and director Kevin Newbury. Spears' first opera, Paul’s Case, was developed by American Opera Projects Composers and the Voice Program and was noted for its “solid dramatic timing, compassionate characterizations, and huge potential” (Philadelphia Inquirer - David Patrick Stearns’ Best in Classical Music for 2009).
Spears has won multiple prizes from both BMI and ASCAP as well as grants andhonors from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Composers Forum, the Fulbright Foundation, and the Vagn Holmboe Competition. In 1999 he was awarded a First Music Commission to write a piece for the New York Youth Symphony, which was given its premiere at Carnegie Hall. Spears has also collaborated with musicologist Simon Morrison to realize the original score for Prokofiev's ballet Romeo and Juliet, which was premiered by the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Bard Festival in 2008. He holds degrees in composition from The Eastman School of Music (BM), Yale School of Music (MM), and Princeton University (PhD) and has been an artist-in-residence at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. He lives in Brooklyn.