Kevin Puts, who was appointed director of the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute in 2014, won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for his opera Silent Night, which was commissioned and premiered by the Minnesota Opera. He has been hailed as one of the most important composers of his generation. His works include three operas, four symphonies and several concertos that have been commissioned, performed and recorded by leading orchestras, ensembles and soloists throughout the United States and abroad. Among them are the New York Philharmonic, Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra and the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Cincinnati, Detroit, Atlanta, Colorado, Houston, Fort Worth, Utah and St. Louis; the Boston Pops; leading chamber ensembles such as the Mirò Quartet, Eroica Trio, eighth blackbird, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; and vocal ensembles including Conspirare. In 2015 the Minnesota Opera collaborated with Puts a second time, premiering a commissioned adaptation of Richard Condon’s The Manchurian Candidate, with libretto by Mark Campbell.
The Minnesota Orchestra commissioned and premiered Puts’ Sinfonia concertante in 2006 and has since performed his Symphony No. 4, From Mission San Juan, and Two Mountain Scenes. It opens this season’s New Year’s Celebration concerts with his Millennium Canons. In February 2017 Puts will direct his third Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, which culminates in a Future Classics: Emerging Composers Spotlight concert led by Osmo Vänskä, featuring works by the composer participants.
Puts’ newest orchestral work, The City, was premiered in Baltimore and New York in April 2016; it was co-commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony and Carnegie Hall. In November 2016 international opera star Renée Fleming premieres his new work based on the personal letters of Georgia O’Keeffe. September 2017 saw the premiere of his first chamber opera, an adaptation of Peter Ackroyd’s gothic novel The Trials of Elizabeth Cree, commissioned by Opera Philadelphia with libretto by Mark Campbell. He is currently at work on a new oboe concerto for Baltimore Symphony's principal oboist Katherine Needleman, to be premiered in summer 2018, and an orchestral fantasy based on music from his first opera, Silent Night.
Since its premiere in 2011 by the Minnesota Opera, Puts’ Silent Night has been produced and performed at Opera Philadelphia, Fort Worth Opera, Cincinnati Opera, the Wexford Opera Festival, Calgary Opera, Opera de Montreal, and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Upcoming productions have been scheduled at Atlanta Opera, Opera Santa Jose and Michigan Opera Theatre.
In 2005, commissioned to write a new work in celebration of David Zinman’s 70th birthday, Puts composed Vision, a cello concerto premiered by Yo‐Yo Ma and the Aspen Music Festival Orchestra. That same year his Percussion Concerto was premiered by Evelyn Glennie with the Pacific and Utah Symphonies. He has also written concertos for Adam Walker, principal flute of the London Symphony, marimbist Makoto Nakura, violinist Michael Shih and clarinetist Bil Jackson, as well as a piano concerto commissioned by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and premiered in 2008 by pianist and conductor Jeffrey Kahane. The Mirò Quartet has premiered two major works of his, Credo and How Wild the Sea; the latter was commissioned jointly by the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra at Austin, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, City Music Cleveland, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra and Naples Philharmonic Orchestra.
Many recordings of Puts’ works have drawn critical acclaim. In August 2015, Seascapes, the first entire recording of his chamber works, was released by BCMF Records through Naxos. In 2016, a CD was released that includes several of his works performed by the Peabody Symphony Orchestra with conductor Marin Alsop. His two a cappella choral works, If I Were a Swan and To Touch the Sky, were recorded by the choral group Conspirare for a 2013 album released by Harmonia Mundi, along with a recording of his Symphony No. 4, From Mission San Juan, with Marin Alsop conducting the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
Puts has received awards and grants from the American Academy in Rome, the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, BMI and ASCAP. He has served as Composer in Residence with Young Concert Artists, the California Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and with festivals including Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, Music from Angel Fire and the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society.
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Puts received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Eastman School of Music and Yale University, respectively, followed by a doctorate from Eastman. Since 2006, he has been a member of the composition department at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore.
For more information, visit kevinputs.com.