Robert Kyr is professor of composition and theory and has been on the UO music faculty since 1990. He is chair of the composition department, and director of the renowned Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium (www.iwagemusic.com
), as well as the Music Today Festival, a biennial series of concerts and events that celebrate new music from around the world. He also directs the innovative Vanguard Concert & Workshop Series, and the UO’s Pacific Rim Gamelan.
After graduating from Yale Kyr continued his education in England at the Royal College of Music in London, and at Dartington Summer School for the Arts, where he studied with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Kyr completed his Master of Arts at the University of Pennsylvania in 1978, studying with George Rochberg and George Crumb. He was elected to the Society of Fellows at Harvard University in 1978 and was in residence as a Junior Fellow from 1978–81.
In 1989, Kyr received his PhD from Harvard University, where he studied with Donald Martino and Earl Kim. He has held teaching positions in composition and theory at Yale University, UCLA, Hartt School of Music, Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, Aspen Music School, and the Longy School of Music in Massachusetts, where he was director of compositional studies. At Oregon, Kyr has developed new models for teaching composition, integrating theory, performance practice, and composition into a single, focused curriculum at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The composition program at Oregon is presently one of the largest in the United States—a thriving community of 40 composers.
Kyr has composed twelve symphonies, three chamber symphonies, three violin concerti, and numerous works for vocal ensembles of all types. His ninth symphony— The Spirit of Time for four soloists, chorus and orchestra—was performed as part of an international project titled “Waging Peace in the New Millennium,” which he directed through the Carlton Savage Endowment for International Relations and Peace at the University of Oregon. Through this program, he created an international initiative for the composition of choral music in 2002, offering composers of all ages an opportunity to create new music on peace-related texts.
Kyr has received commissions to create music for numerous ensembles, including Chanticleer (San Francisco), Cappella Romana (Portland), Cantus (Minneapolis), San Francisco Symphony Chorus, New England Philharmonic, Oregon Symphony, Yale Symphony, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, New West Symphony (Los Angeles), Third Angle (Portland/Seattle), California EAR Unit (Los Angeles), Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum, Harvard Glee Club, Radcliffe Choral Society, Yale Camerata, Oregon Repertory Singers, Cappella Nova (Scotland), Revalia (Estonia), Putni (Latvia), Moscow State Chamber Choir (Russia), Ensemble Project Ars Nova, Back Bay Chorale (Boston), and San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, among others. His commissions have received funding through the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, Paul Allen Foundation, Chamber Music America, New England Foundation for the Arts, Scottish Arts Council, Canada Council, Oregon Regional Arts and Culture Council, Schnitzer Care Foundation, Telarc International, Chase Foundation, Hopkins Arts Center (Dartmouth), and Massachusetts Council for the Arts and Humanities, among many other organizations.
CDs of Kyr’s music currently available include: Unseen Rain (New Albion NA 075), The Passion according to Four Evangelists (New Albion NA 098), Celestial Light: Music by Hildegard von Bingen and Robert Kyr (Telarc CD 80456), and The Fourth River: The Millennium Revealed (Telarc CD 80534). His three violin concerti were released on New Albion (NA 126) in 2005.