Born in 1951 in Pasadena, California, Donald Crockett is dedicated to composing music inspired by the musicians who perform it. He has received commissions from the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (Composer-in-Residence 1991-97), Pasadena Chamber Orchestra (Composer-in-Residence 1984-86), Kronos Quartet, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Hilliard Ensemble, Stanford String Quartet, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Charlotte Symphony, Music from Angel Fire, the Chamber Music Conference and Composers' Forum of the East (Senior Composer-in-Residence 2002 - ), Pacific Serenades and the California EAR Unit, among many others. Recent projects include commissions from the Harvard Musical Association for violist Kate Vincent and Firebird Ensemble, Laguna Beach Live! for the Claremont Trio, the San Francisco-based chamber choir, Volti, for its 30th anniversary season, Composers' Inc. for its 25th anniversary season, and a chamber opera, 'The Face,' based on a novella in verse by poet David St. John. His music has also been widely performed by ensembles including the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, eighth blackbird, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Collage, Xtet and the Arditti Quartet, at the Tanglewood, Aspen and Piccolo Spoleto festivals, and by artists including violinists Ida Kavafian and Michelle Makarski, mezzo soprano Janice Felty, oboist Allan Vogel, pianist Vicki Ray, and conductors Jorge Mester, JoAnn Falletta, Hugh Wolff, Sergiu Comissiona, Jeffrey Kahane and Christof Perick. Donald Crockett was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006, and has also received the Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a commission from the Barlow Endowment, an Artist Fellowship from the California Arts Council, an Aaron Copland Award and the first Sylvia Goldstein Award from the Copland House, a Kennedy Center Friedheim Award, as well as grants and awards from the American Music Center, BMI, Bogliasco Foundation (Aaron Copland Fellowship, 2007), Composers Inc., the Copland Fund, Meet the Composer and the National Endowment for the Arts. His music is published by Keiser Classical and Doberman/Yppan, and recorded on the Albany, CRI, ECM, Laurel, Orion and Pro Arte/Fanfare labels.

Also active as a conductor of new music, Donald Crockett has presented many world, national and regional premieres with the Los Angeles-based new music ensemble Xtet, the USC Thornton Contemporary Music Ensemble, and as a guest conductor with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Hilliard Ensemble, California EAR Unit, Firebird Ensemble, Ensemble X and the USC Thornton Symphony. He has also been very active over the years as a composer and conductor with the venerable and famed Monday Evening Concerts in Los Angeles. His recordings as a conductor can be found on the ECM, New World and CRI labels.

After composition studies with American composers Robert Linn, Halsey Stevens and Edward Applebaum, and British composers Peter Racine Fricker and Humphrey Searle at the University of Southern California (BM Magna cum Laude 1974, MM 1976) and UC Santa Barbara (PhD 1981), he joined the faculty of the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music in 1981. He is currently Professor and Chair of the Composition Department and Director of the Contemporary Music Ensemble at Thornton, and Senior Composer-in-Residence with the Chamber Music Conference and Composers’ Forum of the East.


Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory | March 28, 2014
Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory | February 15, 2013
Club Oberon in Harvard Square | February 6, 2012
Moonshine Room at Club Café | February 5, 2008

News and Press

[Concert Review] BMOP's connections elucidated

Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s 15th annual “Boston ConNECtion” concert at Jordan Hall on March 28th was, as you can adduce by reading BMInt’s interview with composer Donald Crockett here, is a bit of a stretch programmatically, as only two of the four composers whose works were presented (the two youngest, as it happened) have or had anything like a significant association with New England Conservatory, and only one of them currently resides in the area.

The Boston Musical Intelligencer Full review
[Concert Review] BMOP offers a riveting, rhapsodic Lei Liang premiere

During China’s Cultural Revolution, one of the world’s oldest civilizations tore itself apart. The estimated 70 million deaths that resulted have touched the lives of just about everyone in the country and many around the world.

One story from China’s remote Xiaoxiang region tells of a widow who avenges the death of her husband by tormenting his killer, a local communist official. Devoid of any legal means of seeking justice, she sat in the forest behind the official’s house every night for months and wailed like a ghost. Both went insane.

Boston Classical Review Full review
[Concert Review] BMOP gives the viola its moment in the sun

And now, it might be asked, should we pity the viola? It is after all consigned to an unglamorous middle range, and is ever on the receiving end of all that merciless skewering (if you don’t know what I mean, type “viola jokes” into Google, or ask anyone who has played in an orchestra).

The Boston Globe Full review
[Concert Review] Roseate Ensemble: Violas Consort with BMOP

In another masterstroke of imaginative programming for which it is renowned, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, under Music Director Gil Rose, offered a day-late billet-doux to the sultriest member of the string family at Jordan Hall on February 15th. “Voilà! Viola!” consisted of five works featuring the viola, four of them as soloist and one for an ensemble of eight. (one will have to come up with a clever collective noun for this).

The Boston Musical Intelligencer Full review
[Concert Review] It’s “Voilà Viola!” night at Boston Modern Orchestra Project

Why did the contemporary-music orchestra give a concert of five works that all featured the viola?

a. because they wanted to make a pun in French
b. because it was St. Violantine’s Day
c. because there’s some good stuff for viola out there
d. the orchestra ordered up two brand-new viola pieces, never heard before

Boston Classical Review Full review