The music of Kati Agócs has been honored and performed worldwide, delivering both visceral power and otherworldly lyricism with soulful directness. From folk music of an imaginary culture to volatile spectralism, polytextual vocal ensembles to large symphonic forces, her work embraces the 21st-century orchestra in all of its protean possibilities. The Boston Globe has praised its elegance, citing “music of fluidity and austere beauty” with “a visceral intensity of expression” and encouraging audience members to "go, listen, and be changed." The New York Times has characterized her chamber music as “striking” and her vocal music as possessing “an almost nineteenth-century naturalness.” A recent Guggenheim Fellow, she is also a winner of the prestigious Arts and Letters Award, the lifetime achievement award in music composition from The American Academy of Arts and Letters. The Debrecen Passion, her album with Boston Modern Orchestra Project, is one of The Boston Globe’s Top Ten Classical Recordings of 2016. The title track was nominated for Classical Composition of the Year in the 2017 Juno Awards by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. In the U.K., MusicWeb International celebrated the CD as a Recording of the Year, calling it "highly imaginative and compelling." Reviewing the CD, Audiophile Audition named Kati Agócs “one of the brightest stars in her generation of composers.”
"RAVISHINGLY BEAUTIFUL...AN INTENSITY AND LYRICISM THAT DRAWS ONE IN AND GRATIFIES WITH ITS CLEAR COMMUNICATION"
- THE BOSTON MUSICAL INTELLIGENCER
The music of Kati Agócs has been honored and performed worldwide, delivering both visceral power and otherworldly lyricism with soulful directness. From folk music of an imaginary culture to volatile spectralism, polytextual vocal ensembles to large symphonic forces, her work embraces the 21st-century orchestra in all of its protean possibilities. The Boston Globe has praised its elegance, citing “music of fluidity and austere beauty” with “a visceral intensity of expression.” The New York Times has characterized her chamber music as “striking” and her vocal music as possessing “an almost nineteenth-century naturalness.” A recent Guggenheim Fellow, Kati Agócs has also been awarded the prestigious Arts and Letters Award, the lifetime achievement award in music composition from The American Academy of Arts and Letters. Recent works include her second string quartet Imprimatur, the piano trio Queen of Hearts, and the Concerto for Violin and Percussion Orchestra. The Debrecen Passion, her orchestral/vocal album with Boston Modern Orchestra Project, was one of The Boston Globe’s Top Ten Classical Recordings of 2016. The title track was nominated for Classical Composition of the Year in the 2017 Juno Awards, the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy Awards. In the U.K., MusicWeb International celebrated the CD as a Recording of the Year, calling it "highly imaginative and compelling." Kati Agócs is a citizen of the United States, Canada, and Hungary (European Union). In addition to composing and serving on the composition faculty of the New England Conservatory, Kati Agócs has a curatorial residency with Metropolis Ensemble for the 2018-19 season, planning performances of music by living composers on three concerts also showcasing her own chamber works in the loft space at 1 Rivington Street in New York.
"penetrating individuality...an iridescent wonder"
- gramophone MAGAZINE
First review of Imprimatur in the Boston Musical Intelligencer: “a philosophical/religious discussion…as a throbbing prayer, the movement scaled heightened rhythmic suspense…” Read the review; Hear the piece (October 2018)
2018-19 Concert season includes Queen of Hearts at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston; Immutable Dreams with Continuum in Toronto; Nostalgia for Airs Unheard in Stockholm, Sweden; ...like treasure hidden in a field performed by Chicago Composers Orchestra with Allen Tinkham conducting; the Boston premiere of Imprimatur (second String Quartet) with the Harvard Musical Association; the world premiere of a new work for Hub New Music commissioned by Ashmont Hill Chamber Music; Devotion in a new string orchestra version at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music conducted by Tim Weiss; and three concerts showcasing music by Kati Agócs as part of a curatorial residency with Metropolis Ensemble, including the New York premieres of Hyacinth Curl, Tantric Variations (String Quartet #1), and a new work for solo piano recently commissioned by the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra for the Iowa Piano Competition (September 2018)
Chicago Composers Orchestra performs ...like treasure hidden in a field, August 2018
Kati Agócs is a visiting composer at the Bowdoin International Music Festival Read details here, July 2018
Imprimatur, second string quartet by Kati Agócs, commissioned jointly by the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Harvard Musical Association, and the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaigne in honour of the 15th Anniversary of the Jupiter String Quartet; Premiere performance opens the 2018 Aspen Music Festival with world premiere; Read the Aspen Times article; Read the Aspen Daily News article; hear the piece; June 2018
The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Chamber Players perform the Canadian premieres of Vessel and Devotion with Bramwell Tovey conducting, May 2018
Concerto for Violin and Percussion Orchestra world premiere by violinist Nicholas Kitchen, conductor Frank Epstein, and the New England Conservatory Percussion Ensemble (Commissioned by the Fromm Foundation of Harvard University). CD release release to follow on the Naxos label, April 2018
Gramophone Magazine reviews the album The Debrecen Passion: "an iridescent wonder...penetrating individuality....vocal and instrumental splendour....evokes specific sacred texts or implications to haunting impact....a composer of imposing artistic gifts"
The Prince Edward Island Symphony premieres A Hero's Welcome under Mark Shapiro (Co-commission by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the P.E.I. Symphony Orchestra) ; Watch a video of the Eastlink TV Broadcast of the performance here
Queen of Hearts (Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano commissioned by Chamber Music Northwest) performed by the Claremont Trio at Ashmont Hill Chamber Music: "[the piece] draws one in and gratifies with its clear communication" (Boston Musical Intelligencer)
The Debrecen Passion is on the The Boston Globe's list of the Top Ten Classical Albums of 2016: "sublime....a mystical confluence of the sacred and secular illuminated by the superb Lorelei Ensemble and BMOP"
The Debrecen Passion is a 2016 MusicWeb International Recording of the Year: "highly imaginative and compelling"
U.S. premiere of Tantric Variations at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. on Stradivari instruments by the Cecilia String Quartet: Listen to the performance on demand via WQXR/Read the writeup in the Washington Post
Boston Globe profile on The Debrecen Passion premiere
Review of Toronto Symphony Orchestra performance of Perpetual Summer by Ontario Arts Review: "Gripping...an ideal choice as the overture for the evening's program"
Boston Globe review of portrait concert in Jordan Hall, Boston: "Hub New Music transports with all-Kati Agócs program"
Boston Musical Intelligencer review of Kati Agócs portrait concert in Jordan Hall, Boston: "Stunningly varied works that clearly emerge from a single personality...a distinct voice that is challenging without being elusive... an unshakable emotional core"
The Debrecen Passion is New York's WQXR Q2 Album of the Week: "high-craft, high-drama music...hurtles themes of love and devotion through a particularly intense prism of influences and language"
WBUR ARTery reviews The Debrecen Passion: "starkly beautiful solo sections, duos, and trios...the feeling is religious, deeply spiritual, but it's the sound that tells you this, not the words"
Audiophile Audition reviews The Debrecen Passion: "One of the brightest stars in her generation of composers.."
Boston Musical Intelligencer Interview with Kati Agócs
Hear the entire work and see movement listings here
AGÓCS - THE DEBRECEN PASSION
The music of Kati Agócs on the Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s new recording shimmers and seethes, reflecting the tensions that the Canadian composer sets forth in vocal and instrumental splendour. Each of the five works possesses a sound world that evokes the specific sacred texts or implications to haunting impact.
Agócs pays tribute to her Hungarian heritage in the disc’s titular score, The Debrecen Passion, a setting of Christ’s persecution and death built around verses by the poet Szilárd Borbély (1963-2014), a native of the Hungarian city of Debrecen. As she melds the 12 female voices of the remarkable Lorelei Ensemble with glowing orchestral sonorities, Agócs also suspends vocal lines on Latin and Jewish texts. The 23‑minute work is an iridescent wonder.
Agócs shares more of her bold sense of colour and architecture in the other pieces, including two for orchestra alone. Requiem Fragments evolves from peaceful to anguished episodes through seamless interweaving of incandescent themes. A different array of spiritual moods unfolds in … Like Treasure Hidden in a Field, which highlights Agócs’s keen ear for instrumental possibilities.
Voices again collaborate with orchestra in By the Streams of Babylon, with two sopranos (Agócs and Lisa Bielawa) lifting Psalm 137 on phrases that leap and float, and sound both ancient and contemporary. Vessel exemplifies the composer’s penetrating individuality in a work set in English, Hebrew and Latin scored for chamber ensemble, two sopranos and alto (Margot Rood, Sonja Tengblad and Katherine Growdon).
The Boston Modern Orchestra Project and conductor Gil Rose invest each score with incisive and brilliant intensity, as do all of the vocalists. They should continue to champion Agócs, a composer of imposing artistic gifts.
- DONALD ROSENBERG (OCTOBER 2017)