Nathan Shields’s music has been praised for its “elusive luminance” (Washington Post). The New York Times’s Anthony Tommasini called Commedia, at Tanglewood’s 2019 Festival of Contemporary Music, “the affecting work on the program…alternately kinetic and reflective.” Nathan’s works have been commissioned by Tanglewood, the Mendelssohn-Orchesterakademie of the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Fromm Foundation, JACK Quartet, BMI, Concert Artists’ Guild, and Greenwood Music Camp, and by soloists Bridget Kibbey, Jay Campbell, and Michael Brown, with additional performances by the Jupiter String Quartet, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, Mendelssohn Academy Orchestra, New Fromm Players, Charlottesville Symphony, Chamber Music Northwest, Andrew Hsu, Metropolis Ensemble, Music from Copland House, Decoda, and the Horszowski Trio, among others.
Nathan has received the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Aaron Copland Award, Presser Music Award, and BMI and ASCAP awards, and fellowships from Tanglewood, Yaddo, Copland House, Ucross, Juilliard, Brush Creek, the Wellesley Composers Conference, and the Japan Society of Boston. He has served on the faculties of Juilliard, St. Olaf College, and the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, where he currently teaches, and has given presentations on his own music at Tufts University, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and the National Youth Orchestra of the United States. His writing on music and other subjects has appeared in Commentary, Mosaic, Perspectives of New Music, and other publications, and been praised for its “rare critical discrimination” (the Wall St. Journal’s Gary Rosen). He has been interviewed by NPR, and his writing has been featured on Arts and Letters Daily and The Browser, which selected a 2015 article as one of the year’s best pieces of online writing.
Nathan completed his undergraduate and graduate studies at the New England Conservatory of Music and the Juilliard School, where he was supported by the Irene Diamond Graduate fellowship, studying with Milton Babbitt, Samuel Adler, Lee Hyla, and David Rakowski. His dissertation, with Carl Schachter as advisor, earned Juilliard’s Richard F. French Doctoral Prize. He attended composition programs and summer festivals including the Tanglewood Music Center, Bowdoin International Music Festival, Freie Universität Berlin, EAMA, Copland House’s CULTIVATE Institute, and June in Buffalo, receiving mentoring from Michael Gandolfi, John Harbison, Derek Bermel, Julian Anderson, Augusta Read Thomas, and Robert Beaser.