Ricky Ian Gordon was born on May 15, 1956 in Oceanside, NY and raised on Long Island. After studying piano, composition and acting, at Carnegie Mellon University, he settled in New York City, where he quickly emerged as a leading writer of vocal music that spans art song, opera, and musical theater. Mr. Gordon's songs have been performed and or recorded by such internationally renowned singers as Renee Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, Nathan Gunn, Kelli O'Hara, Audra MacDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Nicole Cabell, the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Frederica Von Stade, Andrea Marcovicci, Harolyn Blackwell, and Betty Buckley, among many others.

Recent productions of his work include:

2011: "Rappahannock County" - libretto by Mark Campbell, directed by Kevin Newbury, conducted by Rob Fisher...
This fictional song cycle (recorded on Naxos and published by Presser Music) inspired by diaries, letters, and personal accounts from the 1860s, premiered at the Harrison Opera House April 12th, 2011. It was co-commissioned in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War, by The Modlin Center for the Arts at the University of Richmond, Texas Performing Arts at the University of Texas in Austin, The Virginia Arts Festival, and Virginia Opera.
"The piece has the sense of a lens closing in on a spectrum of individuals and their feelings around slavery and morality in a profound and poignant way...
The acclaim accorded "Rappahannock County" by the 2,200 people who packed Norfolk's Harrison Opera House for the premiere made clear that Gordon and Campbell had achieved their goal." Wes Blomster, Opera Today

2010: "Sycamore Trees" - By Ricky Ian Gordon, Directed by Tina Landau, Book by Ricky Ian Gordon and Nina Mankin...
"Sycamore Trees" was sponsored by the Shen Family Foundation and was a recipient of The Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award. It featured Broadway's Farah Alvin, Marc Kudisch, Judy Kuhn, Jessica Molaskey, Matthew Risch, Diane Sutherland & Tony Yazbeck.
"Sycamore Trees" is a compelling musical of suburban secrets... " Peter Marks, The Washington Post
"If "Sycamore Trees" were simply an autobiographical tribute to Gordon's past, it would have limited force, but it's aimed at the American dream itself, which gives it broader emotional resonance. With his ability to put old ideas about love, unity and community into new post-modern musical settings, full of unconventional tunes and harmonies, Gordon ultimately achieves in "Sycamore Trees" a fresh and stimulating tribute to the thing he seems to cherish most: family -- his, yours, everyone's. " Barbara Mackay, The Washington Examiner
Nominated for The Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding Play or Musical by The Helen Hayes Awards Organization, and won a Helen Hayes Award for Best Ensemble.

2010: "The Grapes of Wrath" - A Two Act Concert Version of the Opera with a libretto by Michael Korie, at Carnegie Hall, directed by Eric Simonson with projections by Wendall Harrington and lighting by Francis Aronson. Narrated by Jane Fonda, with a cast that included Victoria Clark, Nathan Gunn, Christine Ebersole, Elizabeth Futral, Matthew Worth, Sean Panikkar, Stephen Powell, Steven Pasquale, Peter Halverson, Andrew Wilkowske, Madelyn Gunn, and Alex Schwartz...with The Collegiate Chorale and The American Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ted Sperling.
"It must be said that "The Grapes of Wrath" certainly reached the audience on Monday night. The hall was packed and the ovation tumultuous." Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times.
"...a stirring, crowd-pleasing work that left the Carnegie Hall audience cheering on its feet...
on the whole Gordon and his librettist Michael Korie have created a major new American opera, one that is likely to stand the test of time." Eric Myers, Opera Magazine

2008: "Green Sneakers" - A Theatrical Song Cycle for Baritone, String Quartet, and Empty Chair, with a libretto by the composer, premiered July 15th in Vail, Colorado, at the Alberto Vilar Performing Arts Center, when the composer was Composer-in-Residence at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. Upon it's premiere, with baritone, Jesse Blumberg, and the Miami String Quartet, it was cited a "Masterpiece" in Opera Today, in an article entitled "Gordon Creates Masterpiece With "Green Sneakers,"
"It is amazing that in this his first work for string quartet Gordon has perfected an idiom that goes to the edge of tonality to create a microcosm of pain and despair that has all the markings of a contemporary Gesamtkunstwerk. Indeed, at the premier, members of the Miami String Quartet were no longer mere strings, but humanized voices that formed a seamless dramatic unity with Blumberg... With the repetition of "Sleep Dear," the final words of Green Sneakers, one heard in Vail a distant echo of the "Ewig" that concludes Mahler's monumental Abschied. For this is a song of today's earth, a farewell lamentation that transcends death." Wes Blomberg, Opera Today
It was subsequently done at Pittsburgh Opera in a festival of the composer's works, on a double bill with his "Orpheus and Euridice." Robert Croan writing in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, called his article, "Superb Mini-Operas Convey Heartfelt Grief."

2007 & 2008: "The Grapes of Wrath" - A full-scale opera with libretto by Michael Korie, premiered at the Minnesota Opera in a production that then traveled first to Utah Opera, and then to Pittsburgh Opera. Musical America called the work, "The Great American Opera," and Los Angeles Times critic Mark Swed wrote that: "...the greatest glory of the opera is Gordon's ability to musically flesh out the entire 11-member Joad clan...Gordon's other great achievement is to merge Broadway and opera... greatly enhanced by his firm control over ensembles and his sheer love for the operatic voice." Alex Ross, writing in The New Yorker, wrote "Gordon, who first made his name in the theatre and as a composer of Broadway-style songs, fills his score with beautifully turned genre pieces, often harking back to American popular music of the twenties and thirties: Gershwinesque song-and-dance numbers, a few sweetly soaring love songs in the manner of Jerome Kern, banjo-twanging ballads, saxed-up jazz choruses, even a barbershop quartet. You couldn't ask for a more comfortably appointed evening of vintage musical Americana. Yet, with a slyness worthy of Weill, Gordon wields his hummable tunes to critical effect..." A Suite from the opera was premiered at Disney Hall in spring 2008 (May 18). The full opera, live from the Minnesota premiere, is available on a 3 CD set with libretto liner notes on PS Classics. Carl Fischer has published the Vocal Score as well as a Folio of 16 Arias from the Opera.
"The Grapes Of Wrath" was cited in Opera News Magazine as one of the "Masterpieces of the 21st Century."

2005: "Orpheus and Euridice" - A Theatrical Song Cycle in Two Acts, premiered at Lincoln Center's Rose Theatre as part of Great Performers, and The American Songbook Series, October 5, 2005. Directed and choreographed by Doug Varone and performed by Elizabeth Futral, Soprano, Todd Palmer, Clarinet and Melvin Chen, Piano, it won an OBIE Award and is recorded on Ghostlight Records and published by Carl Fischer Music. It was given new productions at Long Beach Opera February of 2008, Fort Worth Opera in July of 2008. Long Leaf Opera in North Carolina reprised the Lincoln Center/Doug Varone production.
"Both Gordon's text and music are couched in an accessible idiom of disarming lyrical directness, a cleverly disguised faux naïveté that always resolves dissonant situations with grace and a sure sense of dramatic effect–the mark of a born theater composer." Peter G. Davis, New York Magazine
"Orpheus and Euridice" was cited in Opera News Magazine as one of the "Masterpieces of the 21th Century."

2003: "My Life with Albertine" - written with Richard Nelson and based on Marcel Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past" premiered at New York's Playwrights Horizons (recorded on PS Classics and published by Rodgers and Hammerstein/Williamson Music, AT&T Award). It starred Kelli O'Hara, Brent Carver and Emily Skinner.
"The music swirls with regret, romance, and a sense of lost time." Ben Brantley, The New York Times

2001: "Bright Eyed Joy: The Music of Ricky Ian Gordon" - was presented at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall as part of the American Songbook Series. Stephen Holden, writing in the New York Times wrote of the work, "If the music of Ricky Ian Gordon had to be defined by a single quality, it would be the bursting effervescence in fusing songs that blithely blur the lines between art song and the high-end Broadway music of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim...It's caviar for a world gorging on pizza." "Bright Eyed Joy" is recorded on Nonesuch Records with vocalists including Audra McDonald, Dawn Upshaw, and Adam Guettel.

Other works include, "Dream True," written with Tina Landau and premiered in 1999 at The Vineyard Theater (recorded on PS Classics, Richard Rodgers Award, Jonathan Larson Foundation Award), "States Of Independence," (also with Ms. Landau, for The Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia (formerly The American Music Theater Festival) in 1992, and "Only Heaven," based on the works of Langston Hughes and premiered in 1995 at Encompass Opera (recorded on PS Classics, and published by Rodgers and Hammerstein/Williamson Music). "The Tibetan Book of the Dead," written with Jean Claude Van Itallie, premiered at the Houston Grand Opera in 1996 and, and "Morning Star," written with William Hoffman which Mr. Gordon wrote for The Lyric Opera Of Chicago, where he was a composer in residence.

Having recently completed an opera based on Giorgio Bassani's novel, "The Garden of the Finzi Continis" with librettist Michael Korie, Mr. Gordon is currently working on commissions from New York's Metropolitan Opera, ("Intimate Apparel" with Playwright, Lynn Nottage) Opera Theatre of St. Louis, ( "27"with librettist Royce Vavrek) and Houston Grand Opera ("A Coffin In Egypt" with writer/director Leonard Foglia.) His "Morning Star" with librettist William M. Hoffman will premiere at Cincinnati Opera in June 2015, with Ron Daniels directing, and Christopher Allen conducting. After Renee Fleming premiered his orchestral setting of Harper's final monologue from Tony Kushner's "Angels In America," "Night Flight To San Francisco" (which originally premiered in a piano vocal version at Lincoln Center in 2000) with conductor Sebastian Lang Lessing and The San Antonio Symphony in 2011, he set Harper's OTHER monologue from Tony Kushner's "Angels In America," the "Antarctica" monologue.

As a teacher Mr. Gordon has taught both Master Classes and Composition Classes in Colleges and Universities throughout the country including Yale, NYU, Northwestern, Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music, Catholic, Bennington, Vassar, Carnegie-Mellon, Elon, Michigan State, U of Michigan, Point Park (McGinnis Distinguished Lecturer) Texas Lutheran University, and San Francisco Conservatory. He has been the featured Composer-in Residence at various festivals including Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, The Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, Songfest at Pepperdine University, Chautauqua, Aspen Music Festival, and Ravinia.

Among his honors are an OBIE Award, the 2003 Alumni Merit Award for exceptional achievement and leadership from Carnegie-Mellon University, A Shen Family Foundation Award, the Stephen Sondheim Award, The Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla Theater Foundation Award, The Constance Klinsky Award, and many awards from ASCAP, of which he is a member, The National Endowment of the Arts, and The American Music Center.

Mr. Gordon's works are published by Williamson Music, Carl Fischer Music, and Presser Music and available everywhere.
His works are also widely recorded on various labels.


All content copyright 2007 Ricky Ian Gordon. Web site design by Dennis Tobenski.
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