B.A., Duke University
M.A., Columbia University
D.M.A., Columbia University
Maurice Wright's work is a synthesis of his diverse interests–early music, musical acoustics, and ways to harness technology to serve music. Outstanding ensembles, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Emerson String Quartet, and the American Brass Quintet have commissioned works from Wright. The American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Fromm Music Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Philadelphia Music Project, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts have recognized his work with awards. Recordings on New World, Innova, Equilibrium, Everglade, and CRI include his compositions.
Wright was born in 1949 in Front Royal, Virginia, a small town situated between the forks of the Shenandoah River near the Blue Ridge Mountains; he began composing at age 10. He attended Duke University and Columbia University, where he explored diverse interests that included music composition, computer science and film, receiving a doctoral degree in 1988.
Increasingly interested in the folk music of Scotland and its emigration to the American Applachians, Wright has composed a number of works based on this music: Fantasy Meditation on “Kingsfold”, Song Cycle (“Crow, Black Chicken”), Variations on “Adieu, Dundee” and Plaints and Airs, the latter described by Timothy Gilligan in the New York Concert Review as “an absolutely original sound, modern and fresh and completely natural...it was that rare thing - a genuinely successful piece of new music.”
Wright has contributed to the solo repertoire of percussionists, with Marimba Music, Set-up Music, Movement in Time, Grand Duo, OCTET, and Concertpiece for Marimba and Orchestra. A recording of his chamber music with percussion, featuring percussionists Don Liuzzi and Anthony Orlando, and violinist Hirono Oka was released in the fall of 2011. T. Adam Blackstock, writing for the Percussive Arts Society, says “containing splendid percussion with violin, piano, saxophone, and electronic sounds, this disc is a must-have for those interested in mixed instrumental chamber music.”
His interests in image were incorporated into two electronic operas: The Trojan Conflict (1989), and Dr. Franklin, an opera about Benjamin Franklin, produced in Philadelphia in 1990 as part of the Electrical Matter Festival. Recent work with sound and image has been presented in festivals across the United States and around the world, most recently at the American Philosophical Society Museum in Philadelphia.
Wright is founder and curator of the electroacoustic music and video series CYBERSOUNDS, which presents concerts at Temple University’s Rock Hall.
Colloquium guest speaker, Dartmouth College, May 2012
Festival composer: Society of Composers Region III, Christopher Newport University, April 2012
Festival composer: Cinesonika, Vancouver, BC, February 2012