Kati Agócs, who is of Hungarian and American background, was born in 1975 in Windsor, Canada. Bridging the gap between lapidary rigor and sensuous lyricism, her music has been performed across the globe by leading musicians and ensembles and hailed as original, daring, and from the heart. A 2008 citation from the American Academy of Arts and Letters praises the "soulful directness" of her music, its "naturalness of dissonance," and its "melody, drama, and clear design." The Boston Globe recently described it as "music of fluidity and austere beauty," while The New York Times has characterized it as "nimble", "striking," and "filled with attractive ideas," and has described her vocal music as possessing "an almost 19th-century naturalness." Appointed in 2008 to the composition faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, she is fast gaining international recognition as a significant voice of the younger generation.
Recent commissions include Pearls for the American Composers Orchestra, with a Carnegie Hall premiere in February 2009; Requiem Fragments for the CBC Radio Orchestra (Vancouver); I and Thou for the St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble (New York); Immutable Dreams for the Da Capo Chamber Players (New York); Division of Heaven and Earth for pianist Fredrik Ullén (Stockholm, Sweden); and Supernatural Love for Duo Concertante (violinist Nancy Dahn and pianist Timothy Steeves). She has produced new works for Ensemble de flûtes Alizé (Montréal); the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra (Boston); the Autumn Festival in Budapest, Hungary; The Albany Symphony; saxophonist Timothy McAllister; PRISM Saxophone Quartet; The Canada Council for the Arts; and the Juilliard School (for its annual Irene Diamond Concert in 2001). Agócs was chosen for Meet the Composer's "Music Alive: New Partnerships" program for the current season. She is composer in residence for the National Youth Orchestra of Canada for 2010, and has been commissioned for their 50th Anniversary coast-to-coast tour that summer.
In 2008-2009 the Grammy-winning chamber ensemble Eighth Blackbird toured nationally with her quintet Immutable Dreams, presenting it in over fifteen performances. The work is also heard at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York in May 2009, in Boston with Xanthos ensemble, and in Vancouver with Standing Wave. Agócs recently performed as soprano soloist in her own piece By the Streams of Babylon in Jordan Hall (Boston), together with soprano Lisa Bielawa and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (Gil Rose, conductor), on their Boston ConNECtion program. Also this season, Supernatural Love for violin and piano is heard at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival and on nation-wide tours of China and Canada by Duo Concertante, and the solo aria for alto saxophone As Biddeth Thy Tongue is showcased by saxophonist Timothy McAllister at the Lontano Festival of American Music in London. UK Time Out New York featured the premiere recording of Every Lover is a Warrior, on harpist Bridget Kibbey's debut CD, Love is Come Again, as one of its top ten recordings of 2007, describing the work as "a powerful, ruminative suite" and Agócs as an "innovative" and "promising" composer. At least six new recordings of her recent chamber works are scheduled to be released on upcoming CDs in the next year.
Awards include a 2008 Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, ASCAP Leonard Bernstein Fellowship at the Tanglewood Music Center, multiple grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, a Fulbright Fellowship to the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, Jacob K. Javits Fellowship from the US Department of Education, a New York Foundation for the Arts Composition fellowship, a Jerome Foundation commission, Presser Foundation Award, and honors from ASCAP in their Morton Gould Young Composer Awards. Fellowships and residencies include the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival (upcoming in June 2009), the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival (Yale Summer School of Music), Aspen Music Festival, MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Dartington International Music Festival (UK), and Virginia Arts Festival. On two occasions while attending Juilliard, Kati Agócs had her orchestral works premiered by the Juilliard Symphony in Alice Tully Hall as a winner of the annual composer's competition. In 2004, she spearheaded a groundbreaking exchange program between Juilliard and the Liszt Academy in Budapest that still continues today. She has written on recent American and Hungarian music for Tempo and The Musical Times.
Kati Agócs earned her Doctor of Musical Arts and Masters degrees from The Juilliard School, studying with Milton Babbitt. She is also an alumna of the Aspen Music School, Tanglewood Music Festival, Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific (one of the United World Colleges), and Sarah Lawrence College, all of which she attended on full scholarship. From 2006 through 2008 she taught at the School of Music, Memorial University of Newfoundland. She is on the composition faculty of The New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, and maintains a composition studio in Flatrock, near St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.