A “modern day master” and often the “highlight of the program” (The New York Times), Robert Paterson’s music is popular for its elegance, wit, structural integrity, and a wonderful sense of color. Paterson was Composer of The Year from the Classical Recording Foundation at Carnegie’s Weill Hall in 2011. His opera Three Way won the Grammy® for Best Producer of the Year and his music has been named “Best of the Year” on National Public Radio. “A bright and magnificent score”(Opera News), Three Way premiered with the Nashville Opera and then at BAM in 2017, and continues to be performed with companies across the United States.
His music has been performed by Musica Sacra, the Buffalo Philharmonic, Louisville Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Austin Symphony, Vermont Symphony, Delaware Symphony, Albany Symphony’s Dogs of Desire, Opera Memphis, and more. Shine received its world premiere with the American Brass Quintet at Aspen Music Festival, and continues to be performed at Juilliard, Princeton, and on their national tours.
Paterson is passionate about composing for choir. An album of his choral music was recorded by Musica Sacra and Kent Tritle in 2015. Paterson was a Volti Choir of San Francisco’s Choral Arts Laboratory composer, and he won the Cincinnati Camerata Competition for his setting of Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep (text by Mary Frye). Graffiti Canons and Look to the Sky received New York premieres in 2021 with the New York Choral Society and Musica Sacra. These pieces are slated to be performed for the 9/11 Memorial Museum and Oculus World Trade Center in 2022.
Having written over eighty works to date, Paterson has received accolades and won awards for his works in every classical genre. His awards include the Copland Award, a three-year Music Alive! grant from the League of American Orchestras and New Music USA, the American Composers Forum, the Utah Arts Festival Commission Competition, two ASCAP Young Composer Awards, and fellowships to Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Aspen Music Festival, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts.
Born in 1970, Paterson was raised in Buffalo, New York, he is the son of the distinguished American sculptor and painter couple, Eleanor & Anthony Paterson. Although visual art was a constant in his early life, his first love was percussion, as well as a passion for writing, composing his first piece at age thirteen. In the late 1980s, Paterson pioneered the development of a six-mallet marimba technique. He presented the world’s first all six-mallet marimba recital at the Eastman School of Music in 1993, and released the first-ever album of six mallet music, Six Mallet Marimba in 2012 (AMR) to a sold out crowd at the Rubin Museum in Chelsea, NYC.
Paterson holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music (BM), Indiana University (MM), and Cornell University (DMA). Paterson founded American Modern Ensemble (AME) in 2005 and serves as Artistic Director as well as house composer. He is the Artistic Director of the Mostly Modern Festival in Saratoga Springs, NY, and directs the affiliated record label, American Modern Recordings (AMR), distributed by NAXOS. He gives master classes at numerous colleges and universities, most recently at the Curtis Institute of Music, Aspen Music School & Festival, University of Denver, New York University, and the Cleveland Institute of Music.
He has been vegan since the 1990’s and is currently enjoying the huge growth of plant based cuisine here in New York City and Saratoga Springs, with his wife, Victoria, and son, Dylan.