The Board of Directors of the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University has chosen the Butler School's Visiting Assistant Professor of Composition Christopher Trapani as one of only fifteen composers selected to receive 2019 Fromm commissions; these represent one of the principal ways that the Fromm Music Foundation seeks to strengthen composition and to bring contemporary concert music closer to the public. In addition to the commissioning fee, a subsidy is available for the ensemble performing the premiere of the commissioned work.
Founded by the patron of contemporary music, the late Paul Fromm, the Fromm Foundation is now in its sixty-third year, having been located at Harvard University for the past forty-three. Since the 1950s, it has commissioned well over 300 new compositions and their performances, and has sponsored hundreds of new music concerts and concert series. “I want to know you,” Igor Stravinsky once said to Fromm, “because contemporary music has many friends but only a few lovers.”
Winner of the 2016-17 Luciano Berio Rome Prize, Christopher Trapani maintains an active career in the United States, the United Kingdom, and in Continental Europe. Commissions have come from the BBC, the JACK Quartet, Ensemble Modern, and Radio France, and his works have been heard at Carnegie Hall, Southbank Centre, Ruhrtriennale, IRCAM, and Wigmore Hall.
Trapani's music weaves American and European stylistic strands into a personal aesthetic that defies easy classification. Snippets of Delta Blues, Appalachian folk, dance band foxtrots, shoegaze guitar effects and Turkish makam can be heard alongside spectral swells.
He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Trapani earned a Bachelor’s degree from Harvard, then spent most of his twenties overseas: a year in London, working on a Master’s degree at the Royal College of Music with Julian Anderson; a year in Istanbul, studying microtonality in Ottoman music on a Fulbright grant; and seven years in Paris, where he studied with Philippe Leroux and worked at IRCAM. In 2015 he spent eight months in Stuttgart as a fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude, and in 2016-2017 spent eleven months at the American Academy in Rome.
Since 2010, he has lived in New York City, where he earned a doctorate at Columbia University, with Tristan Murail, George Lewis, Georg Friedrich Haas, and Fred Lerdahl.
Trapani is the winner of the 2007 Gaudeamus Prize. His scores have been performed by ICTUS, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and Spektral Quartet, amongst others. Recent projects include PolychROME a co-commission from Ensemble L’Itinéraire and Ensemble Modern, for the 2017 Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik. His work will be featured on a forthcoming portrait CD on New Focus Recordings, with performances by Talea Ensemble, JACK Quartet, singer Lucy Dhegrae, and pianist Marilyn Nonken.
He is a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow. Trapani's debut CD, Waterlines, featuring performances by Talea Ensemble, JACK Quartet, and others, was released on New Focus Recordings in 2018.