THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (Heidi Waleson) March 2012 [Opera Review for Houston Grand Opera's The Bricklayer] "Mr. Spears, a young, New York-based postminimalist composer, matches the spareness of Ms. Moshiri's text with luminous, pointillistic writing for his five-piece chamber orchestra.
HOUSTON PRESS BLOG (D.L. Groover) March 2012 [Opera Review for Houston Grand Opera's The Bricklayer] "...inventive, precise and colorful music. He knows how to score for chamber orchestra, and the work is replete with "Persian" influences, from the filigreed vocal lines with their distinctive keening warble to the Bricklayer's signature sound of the "ney," that smoky, unearthly-sounding flute. Constantly varied and rich in texture...the music is rhythmically complex yet easily accessible, no mean feat these days for modern opera. The quieter passages have a gossamer transparency that strikes the ear as almost neo-Romantic in sweep and emotional power. Spears is definitely a composer to watch."
THE NEW YORKER (Russell Platt) March 2012 “The young Brooklyn composer Gregory Spears, an avatar of the new "alt-classical" movement, has composed a Requiem as a dance score, with Middle French poetry and Breton folk texts alternating with excerpts from the liturgy...Medieval and and post-minimalist styles commingle freely here, along with shadowy tinges of Britten and late Stravinsky. It all goes down with disarming ease, but Spears's close knowledge of vocal technique, and his luminous writing for the harp, hint at deeper mysteries."
THE BOSTON GLOBE (David Weininger) January 2012 [Requiem Album Review] "Gregory Spears’s "Requiem’’ is some of the most beautifully unsettling music to appear in recent memory. [...] Scored for an unusual instrumental ensemble - recorder, chimes, harps, organ, and viola - and six voices, the music sounds like a Renaissance madrigal remixed for the postminimalist age. [...] It’s hard to know what to call this music, though it must be a challenge to perform, and the musicians on this recording do exemplary work. It is harder still to explain the cold shiver it induces."
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER (David Patrick Stearns) November 2011
THE NEW YORK TIMES (Steve Smith) April 2011 “In a resourceful, astonishingly beautiful Wilfred Owen setting by Gregory Spears, Amelia Watkins, a soprano, and Anthony Roth Costanzo, a countertenor, intertwined in languorous flights.”
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER (David Patrick Stearns) November 2010 [On the JACK Quartet’s premiere of Spears’ string quartet Buttonwood] “This impressionistic portrayal of an inner landscape is admirable for its unflamboyant honesty.”
THE NEW YORKER (Alex Ross) June 2010 “N.Y.C.B. [New York City Ballet] could do much better in commissioning scores. The city is crawling with gifted young composers who would jump at the chance to produce a twenty-minute orchestral piece; some are already at work in downtown dance spaces. For “Hen’s Teeth,” Christopher Williams’s recent piece at Dance New Amsterdam, the Brooklyn-based composer Gregory Spears produced a slow-moving, coolly entrancing Requiem Mass, which echoed the Renaissance style of Claude Le Jeune and other antique sources … as so often in the art of collaboration, a loss of creative independence can be a gain in creative power.”
THE NEW YORK TIMES (Alastair MacCaulay) June 2010 “… a requiem Mass sung in Breton, Middle French and Latin, performed live (by musicians including Mr. Williams and Mr. Spears) — is the most distinguished component of the evening. It summons up a shimmering medieval aura — positively High-Elven — of voices, harps, chimes, recorders and viola and harps.”
THE VILLAGE VOICE (Deborah Jowitt) June 2010 “…Williams is fortunate to have it [Hen’s Teeth] accompanied by Gregory Spears’s splendid score, played live by an ensemble of 10. This Requiem Mass unconventionally blends portions of the Latin text with that of a non-liturgical one in Middle French about the song of a dying swan (a metaphor for the lover), plus a couple of fragments in Breton. At times the jangling together of singing voices, violin, harp, recorder, chimes, and electric organ is magical, like feathers stroking the back of your neck.”
DANCE REVIEW TIMES (Martha Sherman) June 2010 “In the world premiere of “Hen’s Teeth,” Williams invoked ‘Swan Lake,’ then created one of his own, set to a beautiful requiem composed by Gregory Spears. […] Spears’s rich, harmonic score was sung by six vocalists, the piercing soprano by Ruth Cunningham. They were accompanied by harp, viola, percussion, and several troubadour harps – including the one played by Williams himself. In the intimate setting of Dance New Amsterdam, the opulence of live music was especially grand.”
CITY OF GLASS CULTURE BLOG June 2010 “…the work has been set to a moody score by composer and conductor Gregory Spears…sung in Breton, Middle French and Latin by the likes of half the cast of Anonymous 4 (Ruth Cunningham and Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek) and 4 members of the acclaimed male a cappella vocal group Lionheart (Michael Wenger, John Olud, Lawrence Lipnik, and Kurt-Owen Richards.”
THE NEW YORKER (Alex Ross) February 2010 “A diaphanous song [Coleridge] by Gregory Spears and Ravel’s “Gaspard de la Nuit” ended the recital proper.”
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER (David Patrick Stearns) December 2009 From David Patrick Stearns’ Best in Classical Music for 2009: “Greg Spears' adaptation of the Willa Cather story "Paul's Case" wasn't just staged quickly, but was also composed in a deadline-imposed heat. Yet Spears' music - in this odd tale of a young Pittsburgh dandy on the loose in New York - had solid dramatic timing, compassionate characterizations, and huge potential.”
MUSIC WEB INTERNATIONAL (Jeffrey Edelstein) September 2009 “Mr. Spears’s hauntingly paradoxical music—feral and refined, unsettled and serene—is especially electrifying during statements of anticipation and regret … Mr. Spears coils minimalist motifs sufficiently tightly so that they spring naturally and necessarily into neo-romantic idioms… a beautiful, heartrending work…”
MUSIC WEB INTERNATIONAL (Jeffrey Edelstein) March 2009 “A composer with an exquisite, distinctive voice…the music feels subjunctive, reflecting the overall title: wishful, regretful, and wistful; it is rapt resignation, gazing out from music’s seashore.”
THE NEW YORK TIMES (Alastair Macaulay) July 2008 “Now, at Bard Summerscape, comes the world premiere of Prokofiev’s original 1936 account of the ballet ‘Romeo and Juliet, on Motifs of Shakespeare,’ … Prof. Simon Morrison of Princeton, who found this score in Russian archives, has restored it, with the orchestration of four passages realized by Gregory Spears from Prokofiev’s manuscript annotations.”
THE NEW YORK TIMES (Steve Smith) November 2008 “Gregory Spears … explored the orchestra’s capacity for innovative timbre. Mr. Spears, whose music has figured in the orchestra’s Underwood New Music Readings, fashioned a dreamy suspense in ‘Finishing,’ with fluttering flute and trumpet solos, tinkling percussion and shimmering strings…”
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER (David Patrick Stearns) April 2007 "The glistening sonic soup in the remarkable Finishing by Princeton-based Greg Spears used drone effects less prominently than Crumb, but using dictaphones.”
THE NEW YORK TIMES (Anthony Tommasini) July 2001 “The concert concluded with Eighth Blackbird's scintillating account of Gregory Spears's ‘Soar-Stop’ …”