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Alexandra du Bois. Photo by Nick Ruechel. www.NickRuechel.com
Composer Alexandra du Bois discovered music through the violin, playing the instrument from the age of two years old and later began composing at age fifteen. While still in her early twenties, her music has already received performances throughout United States, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Canada, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Spain, Austria, Slovenia, The Czech Republic, Armenia, and the United Kingdom venues such as the Théàtre de la Ville in Paris, Carnegie Hall in New York, The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Barbican Hall in London, as well as radio programs in six countries including BBC Radio 3 and NPR’s Morning Edition.
Alexandra du Bois’ music has been commissioned by ensembles such as the Kronos Quartet, Bargemusic, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, The Beaux Arts Trio, Merkin Concert Hall, The Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, Present Music with the Milwaukee Choral Artists and the Milwaukee Children’s Choir, The Piano Project at the Kaufman Center in New York, The Savannah Music Festival, Bang on a Can Festival, Azure Ensemble, The University Chorus and Chamber Singers at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, Duo Diez, MAYA, as well as musicians including Daniel Hope, Menahem Pressler, Wendy Sutter, Sato Moughalian, Mary Rowell, DaXun Zhang, Carson Cooman, Espen Jensen, Zefir Brezeanu, Aurélie Entringer, Sergio Puccini, Ian Ding, Randal Fleisher, and many others. Her music has been performed on four continents at venues including Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, Peter Jay Sharp Theater, Bargemusic, The Stone, and The Tribeca New Music Festival in New York City, The Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Barbican Hall, London, The Théàtre de la Ville, Paris, New Crowned Hope Festival, Vienna, Khachaturian Philharmonic Concert Hall, Yerevan, Armenia, Smetana Hall, Prague, Teatro Gran Rex, Buenos Aires, and the Kursaal Centre, San Sebastian, Spain, among many others.
Alexandra du Bois has been Composer-in-Residence at Dartmouth College, the Mammoth Lakes Music Festival, Merkin Concert Hall’s Zoom: Composers Up Close Series, and Carnegie Hall, through Kronos Quartet’s Professional Training Workshop Kronos: Signature Works. Alexandra du Bois has received numerous grants and awards including those from the Netherland-America Foundation, Indiana University, The BMI Foundation, The Juilliard School, and the University of Massachusetts at Boston.
During the fiftieth anniversary season of the Beaux Arts Trio in 2004-5, pianist Menahem Pressler commissioned Alexandra du Bois’ first piano trio for the Beaux Arts Trio. The Beaux Arts Trio then premiered the new work at The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam followed by consecutive performances in Groningen, and Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The Felici Trio then presented the US premiere in California in 2006. In 2003 Alexandra du Bois was chosen out of over 300 composers from 32 countries as the inaugural recipient of the Kronos: Under 30 Project commission. As a result, du Bois wrote String Quartet: Oculus pro oculo totum orbem terrae caecat for the Kronos Quartet which Kronos Quartet has since performed dozens of times throughout the US and World.
Alexandra du Bois’ second commission from Kronos Quartet resulted in Night Songs (Nachtliederen), String Quartet No. 3.Alexandra du Bois was inspired by the life, journals and letters of the young writer Etty Hillesum (1914-1943), and undertook to capture the life in sound of the twenty-eight year old Hillesum. After reading Etty Hillesum’s published journals and letters, du Bois received with a grant from the Netherland-America Foundation to retrace the footsteps of Hillesum in Amsterdam, Deventer, and Kamp Westerbork in the Netherlands, and ultimately Auschwitz in Poland to receive insight and inspiration for the thirty-minute string quartet. Kronos Quartet premiered Night Songs at Stanford University and Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall in 2006.
Born 16 August 1981, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Alexandra du Bois grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts where she studied full-time at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and the Longy School of Music and while still in high school. She then received her Bachelor’s of Music in Composition and Violin from The Indiana University Jacob’s School of Music where she was the recipient the Dean’s Prize in Composition, the Kuttner Quartet Composition Award, the Dean’s Award Scholarship and the Emma E. Clause Scholarship. Alexandra du Bois then received her Master’s of Music at the Juilliard School where she studied with Christopher Rouse and was the recipient of the Sylvia and Milton Babbitt Scholarship, the Piser Scholarship and the E. & J. Brenner Scholarship. Her teachers in composition have been Sven-David Sandström, Christopher Rouse, Claude Baker, Don Freund, Osvaldo Golijov, Howard Frazin, David Patterson, Philip Lasser and Edward Bilous. Her teachers in violin include Suzanne Schreck, Peter Haase, Lynn Chang, Henryk Kowalski and Federico Agostini.
Alexandra du Bois’ upcoming premieres and performances include a chamber work for British violinist Daniel Hope commissioned by Hope and the Savannah Music Festival, a new symphonic work for the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra commissioned by conductor Randall Fleisher through Musica Nova for their 2008-9 season, a new work for cellist Wendy Sutter, and a choral work commissioned by Present Music in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for Women’s Choir and Children’s Choir scheduled to be premiered in November 2008. A concert at John Zorn’s performance space The Stone in Manhattan will also feature a night of du Bois’ music in September 2008.
Alexandra du Bois’ music has been described as "an impressively sustained essay in musical melancholy," by The Guardian in London and as " fragile whale song moans usurped by powerful harmonies, offering an extraordinary interface between traditional and avant-garde, all the more so coming from a twenty-one-year-old," by The New Zealand Herald.
The Potsdamer in Germany has described her music as “a dramatic highpoint,” and BBC Manchester, England has described her work as “a stunning piece that explored the landscape of war and conflict with a sorrowful tone of foreboding, chaos and devastation.” Critic Marion Lignana Rosenberg has stated she was “deeply moved by [du Bois’ Night Songs’] wild, feverish, klezmer-tinged lyricism and almost suffocating closeness,” and Alex Ross at The New Yorker described the same work as being “driven by strong feeling and by darkly pulsing, Janácek-like melodies.” The New York Times has stated of du Bois’ music: "a contemplative, lyrical, lilting trio…composed with the understanding of a painter who knows exactly where her picture will be hung,” and as "well-made and deeply sincere.”
Alexandra du Bois has lived in New York since 2005 and is a member of BMI. Her works are published exclusively by Arbor Mundi Music Publishers.