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Judd Greenstein is a Brooklyn-based composer of structurally complex, viscerally engaging works for varied instrumentation. A
passionate advocate for the independent new music community in New York and beyond, much of Judd's work is written for the virtuosic
ensembles and solo performers who make up that community, and is tailored to their specific talents and abilities.
Judd has written for soloists such as violist Nadia Sirota, soprano Anne-Carolyn Bird, percussionist Samuel
Solomon, violinist Colin Jacobsen, pianist Michael Mizrahi, and flutist Alex Sopp. Major recent commissions include those from
Carnegie Hall, the Minnesota Orchestra, ETHEL, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Present Music, yMusic, and Roomful of Teeth. Central to his output is his work for
NOW Ensemble, the composer/performer collective that develops new chamber music for
their idiosyncratic instrumentation of flute, clarinet, electric guitar, double bass, and piano. Current commissions
include a piano trio for The Claremont Trio, a song cycle for vocalist DM Stith with a consortium of orchestras (visit oelvt.org for more information), as well as Sh'lomo, an evening-length work
written for The Yehudim, Judd's band of voices, analogue synthesizers, guitar, bass, and percussion, which will tell the story of
King Solomon. Judd is currently the composer-in-residence with the Alabama Symphony, which will premiere a new work of his in February.
Judd's work has been heard at festivals and series around the country, including the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music
(MA), MusicNOW (OH), Southern Exposure (SC), Bumbershoot (WA), Sommerfest (MN), the Grand Canyon Music Festival (AZ), Peak
Performances (NJ), the Carlsbad Music Festival (CA), New Music New College (FL), and many more. In New York, Judd's music has been
presented at theBang on a Can Marathon, MATA,Wordless Music, the SONiC Festival, Keys
to the Future, and the Look & Listen Festival, as well as in a wide variety of
venues, from Carnegie Hall and Symphony Space to Le Poisson Rouge, Joe's Pub and Roulette, where Judd's music was recently part of
the opening festivities for that venue's new Brooklyn home. International performances have taken place at the Musiekgebouw in
Amsterdam (CATCH Guitar Quartet); in Rome, Florence, and Palestrina, Italy (Williams College Concert Choir); at the Tel Aviv Art
Museum (the Israel Contemporary String Quartet); at the Festival Internacional Chihuahua (NOW Ensemble); at the Institute for
Contemporary Art in London (Nadia Sirota and friends); and in the Kyiv Music Festival (Seattle Chamber Players).
In addition to his work as a composer, Judd is active as a promoter of new music in New York and around the country. He is the
co-director of New Amsterdam Records/New Amsterdam Presents, an artists' service organization that supports composers and
performers whose work is open to all influence, regardless of genre. He is the curator of the Ecstatic Music Festival in New York's Merkin Hall, an annual showcase of new
collaborative concerts between artists from different musical worlds, and he is a founding member of NOW Ensemble.
Judd has received degrees from Williams College and the Yale School of Music, has been a Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center
and the Bang on a Can Summer Institute of Music, and is completing his PhD dissertation at Princeton University. Judd is also the
recipient of a Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists, a
partnership of Avoda Arts, JDub Records, and the Foundation for Jewish Culture.
Sh'lomo is supported by a grant from the Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists, a partnership of
Avoda Arts, JDub Records, and the Foundation for Jewish Culture, and made possible with major funding from UJA-Federation of New
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Some things (and excerpts of things) people have said:
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There have been some really remarkably generous responses to Acadia. Here are a few nice excerpts:
"Greenstein is a composer who deserves our attention, a confident young artist whose work displays no shyness about his influences, yet combines them in a totally distinctive way. Considering that it's his first major orchestral composition, Greenstein has a remarkable command of the disparate voices within the ensemble, celebrating their individuality rather than bending them to the will of his vision.... if he keeps creating things as good as "Acadia," we can only hope that commissions micro and macro keep pouring in." - Rob Hubbard, St. Paul Pioneer Press
"'Acadia'...is an engaging work that is a significant addition to the orchestral repertoire... At times, the work sounded like a lush, epic film score, sometimes complicated by strong dissonances. But sections composed using modal scales created the feeling of innocent folk music... [Greenstein] always seemed completely in control of the effects he was creating. The world premiere performance will be available later this week as a free download... It is well worth hearing, especially given the orchestra's fiery, committed performance." - William Randall Beard, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Judd Greenstein has a compositional voice that is his own, and those familiar with his compositions for smaller groups such NOW Ensemble will hear it plainly in Acadia. It scales up exceedingly well from chamber size to full orchestra...Acadia is always serious but never ponderous. Its forward momentum is constant but never frenetic. Its rhythmic and tonal palette is shifty and mercurial but never flippant or confused. It asks for, and never fails to reward, the listener's attention. Beyond the excellent recording that Minnesota Orchestra is generously sharing with the world, Acadia deserves to be taken up and widely played by other orchestras, and to become a permanent addition to whatever equivalent we have to a contemporary canon. It is, in the true and original sense, sublime." - George Wallace, A Fool In the Forest
And here's a nice review by Emily Hogstad at violinist.com.
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I made the 2011 "NPR's 100 Favorite Songs" list, for Change. They say: "Composer Judd Greenstein's tiny, urgent and insistent itches of melodic and rhythmic ideas explode into beauty."
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yMusic have deservedly received some great attention for their Fall release
on New Amsterdam, entitled "Beautiful
Mechanical", and I'm proud to have my work, Clearing, Dawn, Dance, represented on the album. Here's a nice collection
of press for the album, and here are a few selected write-ups, in The Classical Review, Paste
and even the Bangkok Post (where Ung-Aang
Talay is proving to be an exceptionally thoughtful critic, one of the few album reviewers who is given the space to contextualize
the work he's covering. Here's a review of Awake). Oh yeah, and
Time Out New York's Amanda MacBlane picked them as classical album of the
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I was one of 17 composers selected for this summer's Music Issue of The Believer, an excellent magazine put out by the folks at McSweeney's. The issue focuses on "composers" who are reinvigorating the term for a younger
generation of broadminded listeners, and I'm happy to be included - along with quite a few friends and colleagues - in that
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My good friend Joshua Frankel made an incredible film that's set to/around my piece for
NOW Ensemble, Change. It is called Plan of the City and you can watch it here.
It's been extremely interesting and gratifying to watch the video get picked as a Staff Pick on Vimeo, go viral, and reach over
90,000 hits on that platform (where people actually watch the movies!). There have been some great writeups on outlets around the
country and the world, including from Anne Midgette at the Washington Post, who called the live version "one of the best
matches of visuals to music I've seen" in a review of our May concert.
A couple of the more interesting writeups came on the Huffington
Post and the Architizer blog, which examined five "city symphonies", placing Plan of the City in conversation with
Koyaanisqatsi and Sufjan Stevens's BQE, two works that I really admire.
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Lots of great press for the new NOW Ensemble album, "Change":
Boston Globe ("It's been a long time since a
new piece grabbed my attention as immediately and held it as tightly as Judd Greenstein's "Change"...It's tough to shoehorn the
music on "Awake" into traditional categories, but it doesn't matter: Here is an album that offers a lot of engaging new music, as
well as one piece I am sorely tempted to call a masterpiece.")
The Silent Ballet (Album of
the Month, April; "Awake solidifies NOW Ensemble's place as a serious player in the field of modern composition.")
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Here's a nice
review of Monday's ETHEL concert at Merkin Hall, with a nice description of my work (and others) by Allan Kozinn.
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Anne Midgette writes a really lovely review of our NOW Ensemble show in Washington, D.C., with Victoire.
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Steve Smith writes about the debut of The
Yehudim, saying, "The composer Judd Greenstein's music, beautifully wrought and consistently appealing, has not always seemed
as audacious as his barnstorming initiatives with NOW Ensemble, the New Amsterdam record label and the Ecstatic Music Festival,
all of which he helped to found. But "Sh'lomo" ("Solomon"), introduced during a festival program at Merkin Concert Hall on
Thursday night, felt like an epiphany. Played by Mr. Greenstein's new ensemble, the Yehudim, this work in progress fuses his
disparate musical inspirations with his abiding interest in Jewish history and literature to explosive effect."
Alexander Gelfland had some very nice things to say in this piece, which appeared in Tablet, and
also featured my old friend, Yoav Gal.
In case my relatives are reading, I'd be remiss to not also include this extremely thorough and well-written preview in The
Jewish Week, by Eric Herschthal.
* * *
Kyle Gann wrote a very substantive and personally meaningful
description of my music for Chamber Music magazine. It's not linked online, but they gave me a scanned PDF, which you can
find here. An excerpt:
"...a generation was bound to come along for which the reduced status of modern classical music was no tragedy, simply a fact of
life; pop music no corporate hegemon, but a fellow traveler; aesthetics no life-or-death agon, but a shopping mall of viable
brands. That generation has arrived. And Greenstein is emerging as one of its chief spokespersons...his access to lots of fine
young, new-music-minded virtuosos has brought him a ton of performances. He deserves them. His music is bright, clever, inventive,
playful. Blessedly absent is the academic conceit that We Live in Troubled, Anxious Times and need to reflect that in every piece
to show how Serious we are." - Chamber Music, January/February 2010
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roundup of the 2009 Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, including some words about Boulez Is Alive, by Jeremy
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Lots of good reviews for Nadia's album, first
things first, including some very nice words for my own Escape and The Night Gatherers:
"...the disc's most compelling work is its finale, a rich, haunting performance of 'The Night Gatherers,' a dark-hued work for
viola and string quartet by Mr. Greenstein." - Allan Kozinn, Holiday Gift Guide, The New York Times, November
"Greenstein's beautiful, dream-like 'The Night Gatherers' is the album's most lush setting - not surprisingly, given that Sirota's
accompanied by The Chiara String Quartet - and its most romantic and elegiac. Listening to the thirteen-minute setting, it's hard
not to think of it as Greenstein's own "Transfigured Night." - textura.org, July 2009
"Greenstein's fluid and elegiac 'The Night Gatherers' is the only arrangement to feature a string section, the Chiara String
Quartet, on an otherwise strictly solo album, yet the composer's 'Escape' is the album's outstanding 14-minute centerpiece.
Repetitive motifs are gradually scattered like leaves thrown up by a buoyant gust of wind." - Mia Clarke, Time Out Chicago, May 28, 2009
"Greenstein is also the composer of the most successful works on the album, the solo piece 'Escape' and the concluding work for
viola accompanied by the Chiara String Quartet, 'The Night Gatherers.' The latter piece, which brings the album to a rich and
satisfying conclusion, is a lyric and romantic minor key ballade full of beautiful, lush sounds, exquisitely crafted and
performed. 'Escape' is the literal and aesthetic centerpiece of the album and demonstrates the craft of composition at its best.
Greenstein starts with minimal melodic, harmonic and rhythmic material; a repeated, accented descending minor third, then he
composes. He moves the interval around, pairs it, adds a transitional note and rhythm, expands it, takes it apart, develops a
range of dynamics and textures. He turns a fragment into an involved, and involving, solo work, full of emotional and intellectual
intensity. The connection between where the music began and where it is and is going is always in our ears. It's a tour-de-force
work and a tour-de-force performance by Sirota." - George Grella, The Big City, May 21, 2009
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Some cool tidings from the great state of Oregon, where Scott Ordway put on a show of NOW Ensemble works by his Eugene Contemporary Chamber Ensemble. The Eugene Weekly reports and stamps me with the dreaded
but meant-here-in-a-good-way "A-word".
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More NOW Ensemble press is available on the NOW website. Richard
Allen says some nice things over at The
Silent Ballet, including this really nice description: "The beauty of this piece is that it is always changing; at each turn,
an equally pleasing transition waits. Despite multiple meters and lush countermelodies, the composition never loses track of its
central theme. Ten minutes later, it's all over, but because of the song's many nuances, each repeated play feels like the first
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Seattle wrap-up from the Icebreaker festival: my piece "breezily hop-scotched from modal, folk-like tunes to catchy hip-hop
twitterings" (lots of creative language, there! That's from Thomas May's review in Crosscut). My music was also heard to demonstrate "craftsmanship and ear-friendliness" (according to
Gavin Borchert in his Seattle
Weekly review). And, finally, my work "wove notes like a tapestry, gentle, syncopated and vivid" (which is nicely said, by
Philippa Kiraly, in her Seattle
Post-Ingtelligencer review). Thanks to everyone who came out in Seattle - that was an awesome crowd and a fun
* * *
Marc Geelhoed reviews NOW in Time Out
Chicago, giving it (like Steve Smith in Time Out New York) five stars, and also a really nice writeup (again), which
you can read here.
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Steve Smith reviews NOW in Time Out New
York, giving it five stars and a really nice writeup, which you can read here.
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Sequenza 21's Rodney Lister has some great things to say about Sam Solomon, who gave an amazing recital in Lenox, and included the piece he commissioned from me.
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The ever-supportive Steve Smith writes a nice review, in the New York Times, of the Bang on
a Can Marathon, in which he says something nice about NOW Ensemble and the pieces we played, including my own Rock Me Samuels.
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Steve Smith gives a very great and thorough review, on the Time
Out New York Blog, of Anne-Carolyn Bird's recital, which featured
the (incomplete) premiere of my new piece for her, Hillula.
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Alex Ross gives an extensive roundup of the
New York "contemporary-classical scene", and makes nice mention of me and Nico, along with plenty of other cool folks.
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In case you think I only share the good stuff on this space, please check out this nasty pan I received in Milwaukee. This is, after all,
a "fair and balanced" page.
Update: More good tidings from the
great city of Milwaukee, including this Schoenberg-esque gem: "...more like a meandering jam session than a shapely, efficient
composition. It is both overwritten in its indiscernible layers and underwritten in real content."
Update #2: The pros may hate me, but the students seem to get what I'm doing. This points to a new definition of "avant-garde".
* * *
More on the Rewind Orchestra concert from Symphony magazine, where
Symphony editors Jayson Greene and Chester Lane exchange e-mails about the show. Greene writes about one of my transitions:
One thing I thought
this concert did rather well was that when they did perform familiar works, like Mozart's Divertimento for Strings, they
approached them from unorthodox angles...the music that filled the interstices between the Schoenberg and the Mozart was so
impish, and playful, that by the time the Mozart Divertimento started, it was like something was flowering. (Gushy, I know.)
Everyone in the room - or at least, myself and everyone around me - seemed to be smiling involuntarily. September,
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The Rewind Orchestra concert got some interesting press. Steve Smith writes in Time Out New York about the show and kindly gives me and Paul extensive opportunities to air
our thoughts. Fiction writer Tom Dolby writes in the San Francisco Chronicle with a very nice first-person perspective. And the New York Times chimed in.
* * *
Time Out New York critic Steve Smith, on his blog, writes about a concert in
which my Sonata for Cello and Piano was performed. I especially like his complements to Jody and David.
* * *
I was recently part of a profile of young composers in the January/February issue of Symphony magazine. Some nice things
were said about my music and there is actually a picture of my website (?!) on one of the pages.
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"Judd Greenstein, a young composer based in Princeton who's beginning to draw notice in New York, wrote hip-hop beats as a
teen-ager, and his concert works weave together multiple pulses in an easy, bouncing motion. "Folk Music," which Greenstein wrote
in the summer of 2004, is one of the freshest pieces I've heard so far this year...In May, the New York Youth Symphony
premièred Greenstein's "Today and Everyday," which was written with September 11th in mind...In the opening and closing
parts of the work, Greenstein tries out grand, populist gestures; the striking middle section is a slow-moving crowd of
June 27, 2005
Read the article by
New Yorker critic Alex Ross
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"A second example is Judd Greenstein, a graduate school-bound composer whose jaunty work "Today and Everyday" was given its
premiere. Inspired by the restless pulse of Mr. Greenstein's native New York City, the piece had jazzy Bernsteinian syncopations,
a Coplandesque brass chorale, and above all, an impressive confidence that will serve him well as he develops a more distinctive
May 31, 2005
article by New York Times critic Jeremy Eichler
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New Yorker critic (and friend of New Music) Alex Ross says some nice things about my piece, Folk Music, on his blog.
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"The films and images by Luke Batten and Jonathan Sadler of Chicago's New Catalogue are amusing and unsettling, and so is the
music...Judd Samuels Greenstein found for them."
the article by Boston Globe critic Richard Dyer
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"Electronic and conventional instruments merge to create tapestries of gradually shifting patterns slowly guiding the ear into new
and surprising places."
article by composer John Halle
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"Greenstein, whose work might loosely be called post-minimalist, has both a tonal beauty and a pulsing energy that appeals to
listeners from numerous musical backgrounds."
the article by composer Lainie Fefferman