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Scott Ordway

Philadelphia, PA            

Scott Ordway (b. 1984, California) is an American composer, conductor, and performance designer. He is Assistant Professor of Composition in the Department of Music of the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, as well as a 2017–19 Fellow at American Opera Projects in New York City. Prior to his appointment at Rutgers, he was a member of the faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music.

In recent years, Ordway has focused on a series of crowd-interactive works that challenge or eradicate traditional boundaries between performer and spectator. Brotherly Love (2013–15), for instance, is a digital soundscape composition to which more than 100 Philadelphia schoolchildren contributed recorded audio essays on the subject of urban conflict and peacemaking. And Tonight We Tell the Secrets of the World (2016), which was called “a marvel” by The Philadelphia Inquirer, is a “whisper play” for soprano, string ensemble, and a choir of 300 whispered voices—performed by the audience and signaled by a custom array of colored lights.

Ordway has also created a significant body of vocal music, including songs, choral works, and pieces for voice and large ensemble. These include a series of compositions for Boston’s celebrated women’s vocal ensemble, the Lorelei Ensemble, which have been praised for their “clean clarity as cold as ice” (NewMusicBox). The most recent, North Woods, was called “exquisite” by The New York Times and “an American response to Sibelius” by The Boston Globe.

His upcoming projects feature wide-ranging collaborations in the areas of opera, ballet, orchestral, and chamber music. These include: a new work for the Tucson Symphony Orchestra; an evening-length solo cello piece commissioned by the Tarisio Trust for Arlen Hlusko; a monodrama on an original libretto for Canadian mezzo-soprano Julia Dawson; a dance piece for choreographer Nicolas Paul of the Paris Opera Ballet; an evening-length theater of music on the theme of refugees and international borders for the SOLI Chamber Ensemble (San Antonio); and an opera, Spring, which addresses the 2011 Tunisian Revolution and is currently in development through American Opera Projects’ “Composers and the Voice” Fellowship (New York City).

Ordway’s work has been recognized through grants, awards, and fellowships from ASCAP, NewMusicUSA, the American Composers Orchestra, and the American Composers Forum, among others. He continues to collaborate with leading orchestras, ensembles, and soloists, including the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, Curtis Symphony Orchestra, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, Tanglewood New Fromm Players, and the Jasper, Momenta, Arneis, and Daedalus String Quartets, among many others. His work has also been presented at important American and international festivals, including the Hong Kong Arts Festival, Beijing Modern Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, June in Buffalo, and by the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin.

Ordway earned his Ph.D. in 2013 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he received the Hilda K. Nitzche and David Halstead Prizes in Composition. He also trained at the University of Oregon (M.M.), University of Puget Sound (B.A., Music & English Literature), and in Europe at both the Freie Universität Berlin and Accademia Chigiana (Siena). His composition teachers included Samuel Adler, Azio Corghi, Robert Hutchinson, Robert Kyr, James Primosch, Jay Reise, Veljo Tormis, and Anna Weesner. He studied conducting with David Hayes and Hirvo Surva.

In 2016, his debut recording was released by the Hong Kong Philharmonic on Naxos Records.

Three Kalevala Songs

Commissioned by Oratorio Chorale (Portland, ME)
Text by the composer after the Kalevala

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Tonight We Tell the Secrets of the World

Tonight We Tell the Secrets of the World (2016)
A Whisper Play by Scott Ordway
For string ensemble (or string orchestra), soprano voice, alto sax, whispered voices, and light.
25 minutes

Commissioned by the Penn Museum of Archeology & Anthropology with support from the American Composers Forum.

“A marvel.” — The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Acoustics in Penn Rotunda Reveal Secrets of the World” — NPR / NewsWorks Tonight
“The work resonated with humanist spirituality, haunting the imagination long after the last echo died away.” — The Broad Street

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Brotherly Love

•Digital Soundscape Composition
•For recorded voices, synthesized sound, and live string quartet
•Duration: 23 minutes
•Cue Point: 17:48

•Commissioned by PhilaSoup, a Philadelphia micro-grant organization for educators,
with support from a 2013–2015 Community Partners Grant from the American Composers Forum. •Featuring edited interview footage on the subject of violence and peacemaking by 115 Philadelphia schoolchildren aged 6–18.
•All interviews conducted by the composer.

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