First commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony at age 17, Nathaniel Stookey has since collaborated with many of the world’s great orchestras including the Philadelphia, Cleveland and Chicago Symphony orchestras, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony, Toronto Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and the Hallé Orchestra, where he was composer-in-residence under Kent Nagano.
Stookey’s concerto for two violins and strings, Double, was commissioned to represent the year 1999 in the millennial festival in Sheffield, England. San Francisco Symphony commissioned, premiered, and recorded The Composer Is Dead (2006), a sinister guide to the orchestra with narration by Lemony Snicket. It has been performed by hundreds of orchestras worldwide and cited as one of the five most performed works of the 21st century. Stookey’s Mahlerwerk (2011), commissioned by NDR-Sinfonie (Hamburg) for their centennial Mahler cycle, was premiered before an audience of ten thousand people. Stookey, himself a violinist, has produced a rich body of chamber music, including his critically acclaimed String Quartet No. 3, The Mezzanine, commissioned and premiered by Kronos Quartet in 2013.
As a composer of vocal and theatrical music, Stookey’s work has received considerable acclaim for innovation and emotional immediacy. In 2009, Frederica von Stade launched her farewell tour with Into the Bright Lights, his setting of three of her own texts. The following year he scored John Doyle’s production of Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle. His monodrama Ivonne (2014) for soprano and trio was commissioned and premiered by Opera Memphis for the “Ghosts of Crosstown” project. A recording of Zipperz for two pop singers and orchestra, performed by the Magik*Magik Orchestra, will be released later this year.
Stookey is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and Duke University, where he was a Mary Duke Biddle Fellow and was awarded the Klenz Prize during his first year of graduate study. He served on the faculties of the University of Sheffield (UK) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Stookey returns to narrate an encore presentation of The Composer is Dead during the Free Family Concert on Sunday August 9th. That evening, Kronos Quartet will present his string quartet, The Mezzanine, during the In the Blue Room concert.