Scott Eyerly has been recognized for achievements in theater, opera, symphonic, choral, song, and chamber works. His newest piece Arlington Sons will receive its world premiere by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leonard Slatkin, in October 2012, featuring Broadway and opera star David Pittsinger. Spires, for choir and organ, was commissioned by Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue, New York and was given its first performance in that great space, sung by the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys under the direction of John Scott. Other works include the opera The House of the Seven Gables, produced at Manhattan School of Music and now available on double CD from Albany Records; Exultation Overture, commissioned by the New York Youth Symphony and first performed at Carnegie Hall; The Palm at the End, a sextet for piano and winds commissioned by Chamber Music America for the ensemble Hexagon; On Blue Mountain, a music theater piece based on Appalachian folklore, commissioned by Philip Morris Companies, Inc.; Sinfonia for brass octet, recorded by an ensemble of principals from orchestras in the Northeast and released on Sonora Records; Fanfare after Chabrier’s “L’Étoile,” commissioned by Glimmerglass Opera; and Variations on a Theme by Honegger, a large-scale symphonic piece, winner of the Louisville Orchestra New Music Prize.
Current and recent commissions include a song cycle for mezzo-soprano Jennifer Larmore and the string ensemble OpusFive, based on texts of both serious and whimsical poems about animals; Source, a clarinet sonata composed for Alan Kay, introduced at the Cape May Festival, New Jersey; Psalm 71, an a cappella motet for Christ Church Cathedral, Cincinnati; and Algonquin Songs for Faith Esham and Richard Cassell, based on writings by members of the 1920’s Algonquin Round Table. In 2007, music from Eyerly’s opera The House of the Seven Gables was featured in the soundtrack of Jonathan Slon’s independent film Keeping Up With Jones.
Eyerly has found success with critics as well as audiences. Reviewing Gables, The New York Times noted, “His vocal lines are lyrical and shapely. His writing for orchestra, too, is beautiful… A great deal of likable, attractively neo-Romantic music.” The Wall Street Journal praised Eyerly as a “talented composer and librettist. His best moments were some lovely arias and elegant ensembles.” The Choral Journal found Eyerly’s Missa Brevis No. 2 “a study in beauty and simplicity… A fresh approach to a traditional genre.” Andrew Porter in The New Yorker celebrated Exultation Overture for its “winning, Coplandish candor.” Of Variations on a Theme by Honegger, the Courier-Journal declared, “Its craftsmanship and musical logic were exceptional. This is music that reveals more on each listening. Eyerly is clearly a composer on the right creative path.”
Many of Eyerly’s pieces have enjoyed a history beyond their initial performance. After The Palm at the End debuted in San Diego, played by Hexagon (who subsequently performed it on NPR’s “Saint Paul Sunday Morning”), the Orchestra of St. Luke’s Chamber Players presented the score’s New York premiere at the Guggenheim Museum SoHo. (This work was originally titled Music for Six.) Following the world premiere of Exultation Overture at Carnegie Hall, conducted by David Alan Miller, JoAnn Falletta led the work at Wisconsin’s Platteville Festival. A Clear Midnight, first sung as a complete cycle by William Joyner, appeared later in excerpted form on Paul Sperry’s recital at Miller Theater. Birch Music has been played in Pittsburgh by the Renaissance City Winds and in New York by both Sylvan Winds and Windscape. Missa Brevis No. 2 is heard regularly at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, New York, ever since its introduction there in 1990.
Amateur choruses and community theaters have mounted fourteen productions of On Blue Mountain since the work’s premiere at Town Hall in New York. This musical theater piece, based on Appalachian folklore, is designed expressly for non-professional groups. Critic Barrymore Scherer found it “entertaining and tuneful. The moving finale raises a satisfying lump in the throat.” William Bolcom described the score as having “one beautiful song after another.”
An active lecturer and teacher, Eyerly is on the faculty of The Juilliard School, both in the College Division, where he teaches undergraduate harmony and counterpoint, and in the Evening Division, or adult education, where his courses “Understanding Classical Music” and “Opera This Season” are in great demand. Since 2007 Eyerly has presented a popular lecture series at Mahaiwe Theater in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, introducing the Metropolitan Opera HD broadcasts. In February 2009, Eyerly created an online course about The Marriage of Figaro for OperaAmerica. Additionally he serves on the faculty of Saint Thomas Choir School.
Among Eyerly’s other honors are residencies at The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Ragdale, Virginia Center for the Performing Arts, and the Banff Centre (Canada), and grants from the National Endowment from the Arts, Meet The Composer and ASCAP. Eyerly received his M.M. in composition from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Elliott Carter, and his B.M. in composition from the University of Michigan School of Music, where he studied with William Bolcom, Curtis Curtis-Smith and George Wilson. Born in a suburb of Chicago, Eyerly lives in New York City with his wife, Sue.