Matthew Aucoin is a composer, conductor, writer and pianist who has been recognised one of the most promising young talents in the operatic and musical world. He is Artist in Residence at Los Angeles Opera, and has already worked as a composer and conductor with the Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Salzburg Landestheater and Music Academy of the West, among others.
Aucoin is currently Artist-In-Residence at Los Angeles Opera, a specially created position which fuses his work as composer and conductor and culminates in the world premiere of a newly-commissioned opera. Aucoin’s opera Crossing premiered at the American Repertory Theater in May 2015, directed by Diane Paulus. His Second Nature, an opera for young people, was commissioned by the Lyric Opera of Chicago and premiered in August 2015. Aucoin wrote the libretti and conducted the premieres of both operas and is currently at work on a new opera for the Metropolitan Opera / Lincoln Center Theater’s New Works program. In 2018 Aucoin was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship.
Recent works include orchestral work Evidence, commissioned by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Soft Power for the Brentano Quartet premiered in April 2018 and a song cycle Merrill Songs (set to texts by James Merrill) premiered by tenor Paul Appleby at Carnegie Hall with Aucoin as pianist, which was co-commissioned by the Wigmore Hall. Violinist Jennifer Koh commissioned and debuted Aucoin’s new solo violin work, resolve, for the New York Philharmonic Biennale and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. In early 2017, Aucoin’s dramatic cantata The Orphic Moment received its European premiere at the Salzburg Landestheater, with the composer conducting.
Aucoin is a 2012 graduate of Harvard College, where he studied with the poet Jorie Graham before studying composition at The Juilliard School. Shortly before he graduated from Harvard, Aucoin was hired as the youngest Assistant Conductor in the history of the Metropolitan Opera, where he worked with Thomas Adès, James Levine, and Valery Gergiev. From 2013 to 2015, Aucoin was the Solti Conducting Apprentice at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where he studied with Riccardo Muti and, in 2014, made his CSO debut substituting for an indisposed Pierre Boulez.
Aucoin went on to make orchestral conducting debuts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic; the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; the Rome Opera Orchestra, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago; opera productions have included Music Academy of the West (The Bartered Bride, as well as his own chamber opera, Second Nature); Teatro Petruzzelli in Bari, Italy (Le nozze di Figaro) and Juilliard Opera (Eugene Onegin). Future conducting engagements include Verdi Rigoletto and his own Crossing with LA Opera, Dr Atomic at Santa Fe Opera and a special programme with San Diego Symphony.
Performers of Aucoin’s works also include cellist Yo-Yo Ma, countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, Chanticleer, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Boston’s A Far Cry, Zürich Tonhalle Orchestra, violinists Jennifer Koh and Keir GoGwilt, members of the Chicago Symphony, the Spoleto Festival (Italy) and the Peabody Essex Museum where he was the museum’s Composer–in–Residence from 2013-2017. Orchestral work Evidence received its New York premiere in June 2018 with the Orchestra of St Luke's conducted by Ludovic Morlot at the Caramoor Festival.
Aucoin remains an active pianist: with his regular collaborator, violinist Keir GoGwilt, he has recently given recitals in New York, Boston, Edinburgh, Spoleto (Italy) and Toronto. Aucoin regularly performs with many notable opera singers, including Renée Fleming, Paulo Szot, Rod Gilfry, and Anthony Roth Costanzo. Aucoin has also performed as a pianist in several Chicago Symphony Orchestra chamber concerts.
An accomplished writer, Aucoin’s essays and poetry have appeared in the Yale Review, the Colorado Review, the Boston Globe and the Harvard Advocate. He has served as guest lecturer for the New York Shakespeare Society and a guest host for New York’s WQXR. Aucoin has been the subject of major profiles in the New York Times Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe and the Chicago Tribune. His music has been featured on radio programs including This American Life, From the Top and Studio 360.
In 2017 Aucoin founded AMOC (American Modern Opera Company). AMOC, which Aucoin co-directs with director Zack Winokur, is an ensemble of singers, musicians, and dancers committed to creating a body of new, discipline-colliding music-theater works. Described by the New York Times as “blindingly impressive” and “preternaturally talented,” AMOC’s productions are collaborations between its core members that range from operatic stage work to creatively curated chamber events. In its first 18 months, AMOC launched an annual Run AMOC! Festival at the American Repertory Theater, held its first major teaching and performance residency at Harvard University, was Artist-in-Residence at New York’s Park Avenue Armory, performed a new version of John Adams’ El Niño arranged specially for the company at the Met Cloisters, and made appearances at the Big Ears Festival, Clark Art Institute, and Rockport Chamber Music Festival.
Recent & forthcoming conducting highlights
Los Angeles Opera
Santa Fe Opera (John Adams Doctor Atomic)
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Los Angeles Philharmonic
Salzburg Landestheater (Matthew Aucoin The Orphic Moment & Gluck Orpheus and Eurydice)
Rome Opera Orchestra
Music Academy of the West
AMOC (American Modern Opera Company)
San Diego Symphony
Lyric Opera of Chicago (Matthew Aucoin Second Nature)
Matthew Aucoin conducts a range of repertoire, both operatic and orchestral programmes which often include one of his own works. Repertoire includes contemporary composers such as John Adams, Thomas Adès, Andrew Norman as well as works by Beethoven, Berg, Berlioz, Bernstein, Mozart, Schubert, Sibelius, Stravinsky, Verdi and others.
Artist-in-Residence, Los Angeles Opera
Matthew Aucoin is Artist-in-Residence at Los Angeles Opera. This is the first position of its kind at LA Opera and was created for Aucoin, fusing his work as composer and conductor. Some highlights include:
A new full-length opera by Aucoin to premiere at LA Opera in a future season.
Conductor: Phillip Glass Akhnaten, autumn 2016
Conductor: Verdi Rigoletto, spring 2018
Composer & Conductor: Matthew Aucoin Crossing, spring 2018
Conductor: Joby Talbot Vampyr, 2018/19 season
View the full list of works by Matthew Aucoin on his publisher’s website
Evidence (2016) 20’
Symphony or chamber orchestra
2(2pic).2.2.2-188.8.131.52-timp.perc-hp-str (min 184.108.40.206.2, max 220.127.116.11.6)
Crossing Suite (2017) 40’
Baritone, bass-baritone and orchestra
Violin Sonata Its Own Accord (2017) 25’
Solo violin and piano
The Orphic Moment (2014) 17’
Countertenor or mezzo soprano, solo violin and chamber ensemble (15 players)
Merrill Songs (2016) 20’
Solo tenor and piano
The works of Matthew Aucoin are published by G. Schirmer/Associated Music Publishers.
A Brief History of "New Music"
As featured at San Diego Symphony's Hearing the Future Festival
Haydn String Quartet in D Major, Op. 20, No. 4
Schoenberg Verklärte Nacht, arr. Steuermann
John Adams Shaker Loops (septet version)
Matthew Aucoin: Violin Sonata Its Own Accord
Matthew Aucoin (piano)
Keir GoGwilt (violin)
This chamber concert brings together four pieces written across nearly 250 years: first, one of Haydn’s early string quartets, through which he breathed new life into string quartet form; next, Schoenberg’s passionate early work Transfigured Night; John Adams’s jubilant Shaker Loops, a piece that gathers the joyous energy of Minimalism into an ecstatic dance; and finally, the meditative Its Own Accord, composed by Matthew Aucoin.
"Aucoin chose pieces that were pivotal when they were written, displaying approaches that pointed to a musical future barely on the horizon... [Aucoin's] succinct words and the ardent performances of these musicians made a superb case for his thesis, as well as an unusually rewarding evening of chamber music."
San Diego Story
Veils for Desire (AMOC)
Britten Abraham and Isaac
Matthew Aucoin This Earth
Monteverdi Possente spirto from L’Orfeo
Matthew Aucoin Merrill Songs
Meltzer The Heaven of Animals
selections from Handel’s Saul and Britten’s Michelangelo songs
Anthony Roth Costanzo (countertenor)
Paul Appleby (tenor)
Matthew Aucoin (piano)
Hearing the Future
Steve Reich: Excerpt from It's Gonna Rain
Thomas Adès: These Premises Are Alarmed
Haydn: The Creation: Prelude (The Representation of Chaos)
Beethoven: Symphony No.1 in C major, Op.21: I. Adagio molto
Matthew Aucoin: Crossing Suite: Prologue
Sibelius: Symphony No.4 in A minor, Op.63: IV Allegro
Kaija Saariaho: Spins and Spells
Rameau: Les Boréades: Entrée de Polymnie
Mahler: Rückert Lieder: III. Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen
Andrew Norman: Play: Level 1
Stravinsky: Petrushka (1947 version): The Shrovetide Fair
Matthew Aucoin: Crossing Suite: Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
...prodigiously talented… The orchestral writing is intensely rich, thick, and sometimes relentlessly full of ideas.
Los Angeles Times
Aucoin conducted with a show of intent certainty… a remarkable composer
New York Times
Opera’s Great 25-Year-Old Hope… his promise as a composer, conductor, pianist, poet and critic extends well beyond opera or any other single form