Preben Antonsen graduated from Yale College in 2013, majoring in music and computer science. He has been composing since he was a small child, and studied composition with John Adams from 2001-09. NPR’s program “From the Top” featured Antonsen as a young composer in 2008; and, in 2009, the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra premiered his first orchestral work. Antonsen is a 2005 BMI Student Composer Award winner, and ASCAP recognized six of his compositions with Morton Gould Young Composer Awards in 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010. While in his teens, Antonsen collaborated with other teenage composers and instrumentalists on the Bay Area new music concert series, “Formerly Known as Classical,” which seeks to engage teenage audiences.
Antonsen has worked with virtuoso piano duo Christina and Michelle Naughton on two transcriptions of Adams’ music—the Second String Quartet, called Roll Over Beethoven in the new version, and Short Ride in a Fast Machine.
San Francisco’s Symphony Parnassus premiered his orchestral work What Wondrous Love in 2017. They have since invited him as their 2018-19 season composer in residence, commissioning a second work, Arthur Machen’s Childhood, to be premiered in June 2019.
Antonsen is co-director and pianist of the new music ensemble After Everything, which performs older music such as Bach, Ravel, and Stravinsky, alongside Gerard Grisey, George Crumb, Kaija Saariaho, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Lou Harrison, Magnus Lindberg, Julia Wolfe, Julius Eastman, and the like. After Everything has premiered three of Antonsen’s works: Instruments of Straw for string orchestra; A Basil Tale for soprano and mixed ensemble; and Voices from the Nettle-Path for eight double basses.
Preben Antonsen’s Psalm Without Words will receive its world premiere performance on Saturday, August 10, during the Secret Songs performance. His is the eighth commission made possible through a partnership between the Cabrillo Festival and the Pacific Harmony Foundation.