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Patrick Burke

Pittsburgh, PA      

Patrick Burke works as a composer and educator in Pittsburgh. The classical tradition, the visceral immediacy of rock, the social awareness of folk, and the meditative quality of gamelan music blend together to form a cohesive, organic whole in works that are “bold and invigorating, intellectually stimulating, and always fresh and original” (Kevin Puts, Pulitzer Prize in Composition).  As a founding member of the New York-based NOW Ensemble, he is also on the front lines of innovation in the contemporary classical music scene.


In addition to his current commission for Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, (2014), Patrick has written commissioned pieces for the Albany Symphony, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, IonSound Project, and others.  His music is performed throughout North America by ensembles such as eighth blackbird, the Minnesota Orchestra, Present Music, Citywater Ensemble, the Eugene Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, and many others. In 2012, Patrick contributed the title track to NOW Ensemble’s second album, Awake (New Amsterdam Records, Naxos), which received critical acclaim and reached top charting positions in classical music on Amazon and iTunes.  He also has four new recordings in the works by internationally touring performers: a commissioned piano piece for Michael Mizrahi’s second album of new piano music (New Amsterdam Records, Naxos), a work for solo percussion and electronics for Lisa Pegher, a new arrangement of All Together Now for FUSE Ensemble (Parma Recordings, Naxos), and a new song cycle co-written with his wife Emily Pinkerton for voice, banjo and NOW Ensemble that explores connections between Appalachian folk songs and Burke’s own style of contemporary classical music (New Amsterdam Records, Naxos). This last recording will be released during the 2014-2015 season, marking NOW Ensemble’s 10th anniversary.


 Patrick’s recent music has been called “indie-classical at its finest” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), and “glittering fun…at once very sophisticated and instantly accessible” (Third Coast Digest). Patrick earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Yale School of Music, and currently serves as Assistant Professor of Musicianship and Music Technology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA.

All Together Now

Lively chamber music for my group, NOW Ensemble: flute, clarinet, electric guitar, piano, contrabass. Released on our first recording, “Now,” on New Amsterdam Records (distributed by Naxos). In this first piece that I wrote for NOW Ensemble, I explored different ways that musicians can play “together,” while having fun experimenting with this odd combination of instruments. This piece has drive and a narrative aspect to it that makes it one of the ensemble’s most performed works.

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Unravel

Solo piano work commissioned by Michael Mizrahi, released on the album “The Bright Motion,” New Amsterdam Records. A brilliant and hopeful opening theme unravels until disquieting elements are revealed. A dark theme unravels further to reveal a surprise. Inspired by fractal art, and highly indebted to Michael’s extraordinary abilities.

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Rounder Songs: Marcum and the Yankee

This is one song from an ongoing project between NOW Ensemble, my wife Emily Pinkerton, and me. Emily and I are co-writing a song cycle that draws from Appalachian folk songs as well as contemporary classical music. For Emily on voice and banjo, and NOW Ensemble (flute, clarinet, electric guitar, piano, and contrabass), this eerie song is about a deal with the devil reminiscent of Freischütz (listen for an allusion to the opera!).

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