Philip H. Knight Professor of Music
Chair, Music Composition Department
University of Oregon
Director, Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium
President, PAC12 Academic Leadership Coalition

SATURDAY, APRIL 16 • 6:15p


For this conference, Robert Kyr has created a new instrumental work entitled “Toward Harmony.” The fifteen-minute piece explores the role of music as a “medium” that has a crucial role to play in addressing the greatest challenges today, in particular, the severe discord that is generated through never-ending partisan conflict within our society.

As a composer, writer, and filmmaker, Kyr has composed twelve symphonies, three chamber symphonies, three violin concerti, a piano concerto, chamber music, multimedia pieces, and more than 100 works for vocal ensembles of all types. His compositions frequently focus on themes of contemporary significance, such as conflict and reconciliation (peace-making) and living in harmony with nature, as well as spiritual themes related to love, compassion, and forgiveness.

Clouds_of_unknowing_songs_of_the_soulMost recently, Kyr’s Songs of the Soul was premiered and recorded on the Harmonia Mundi label by Conspirare Company of Voices under the direction of Craig Hella Johnson, with whom he collaborates frequently. The work was hailed in the Wall Street Journal as “a powerful new achievement in American music that vividly traces a journey from despair to transcendence” and it was named one of the “Best of 2014” by NPR. In 2016, in recognition of his achievements in music, he received a prestigious Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


Kyr’s music is widely performed in this country and abroad, and recordings are available of many works, including: The Cloud of Unknowing & Songs of the Soul (Conspirare Company of Voices, Harmonia Mundi, 2014); A Time for Life: An Environmental Oratorio (Cappella Romana and Third Angle New Music Ensemble, 2013); his chamber version of Samuel Barber’s The Lovers on texts by Pablo Neruda (Conspirare, Harmonica Mundi, 2011);

Violin Concerto Trilogy performed by Third Angle (New Albion Records, 2005); From the Circling Wheel on texts of Hildegard von Bingen (Tapestry Women’s Ensemble, Telarc Records, 2001); The Passion according to Four Evangelists (Back Bay Chorale, New Albion Records, 1995); and Unseen Rain (Ensemble Project Ars Nova, New Albion Records, 1992).

At the University of Oregon, Kyr is Philip H. Knight Professor of Music as chair of the composition department, where he has developed new models for teaching composers and composer/performers. He also directs the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium, the Music Today Festival, the Vanguard Concert and Workshop Series, and the Pacific Rim Gamelan. He holds degrees from Yale (B.A., 1974), the University of Pennsylvania (M.A., 1980), and Harvard (Ph. D., 1989).