BM in Composition and BA in History, Oberlin Conservatory of Music & Oberlin College; MA and PhD in Composition, University of California-Berkeley.
The music of Reynold Tharp has been described as “tone painting at its most adroit” evoked with “a prismatic palette” (Financial Times), and “gorgeous…a sensuous evocation of colors and atmospheres…. Not content to write textures that are merely interesting or surprising, Tharp concocts sounds that are also ravishing and intoxicating” (San Francisco Classical Voice). After a recent performance of his San Francisco Night at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the New York Times called his piece “a winner” and added, “Elegant, airy and weightless figurations for an octet of strings, winds, brasses, piano and percussion were a stylish and fitting homage to Ligeti. The music also made you eager to hear more from Mr. Tharp….”
Tharp’s music has been performed in the U.S. and Europe by groups such as the New Juilliard Ensemble, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Earplay (San Francisco), Dinosaur Annex (Boston), Ensemble Dal Niente, Boston Modern Orchestra Project Club Concerts, Berkeley Contemporary Chamber Players, Ensemble Diffraction (Paris), Orchestre Lyrique de Region Avignon-Provence, Nieuw Ensemble (Amsterdam), and pianist Julie Steinberg. In 2006 his orchestral work Cold Horizon was performed at the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute. Awards for his music include Columbia University’s Bearns Prize for his orchestra piece Drift and BMI’s William Schuman Prize. In 2012, Albany Records released a CD by the Aletheia Duo of music inspired by nature, which includes his piece Chaparral. Recent highlights include the premiere of his orchestra piece Wide sea, changeful heaven by the University of Illinois Symphony Orchestra, the Korean premiere of his music at the Sejong Chamber Hall in Seoul and the premiere of a new piano trio written for the Earplay ensemble in San Francisco in May 2014. The Financial Times commented, "....more memorable was Reynold Tharp’s Piano Trio, which may, all by itself, restore the primacy of melody to the chamber music format. The composer may evoke influences from the past in this richly harmonised opus, but he speaks in his own voice."
Tharp was born in Indiana and grew up in southern California. After early training as a pianist, he studied history and composition at Oberlin College and Conservatory and later earned a Ph.D. in composition at the University of California, Berkeley, studying primarily with Richard Felciano and Jorge Liderman. As recipient of Berkeley’s Ladd Fellowship he spent two years in Paris studying composition with Philippe Leroux and orchestration with Marc-André Dalbavie, and was selected for the month-long intensive course in computer music at IRCAM. Currently associate professor of composition and theory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Tharp has previously taught at Northwestern University, U. C. Berkeley, and San Francisco State University. At Illinois, in addition to teaching composition and orchestration, he co-ordinates the undergraduate and graduate theory programs and teaches a wide variety of analysis classes. His work as a teacher was recently recognized with the 2015 Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching from the College of Fine and Applied Arts at Illinois and he has been included in the University's List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent every semester since 2008.
For more information about his music, please visit: https://m.soundcloud.com/reynold-tharp