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Faculty Leaders

Jonathan Berger

Described as “gripping” by both the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, “poignant”, “richly evocative” (San Francisco Chronicle), “taut, and hauntingly beautiful” (NY Times), Jonathan Berger’s recent works deal with both consciousness and conscience. His current work The Ritual of Breath"  reflects upon the murder of Eric Garner. His chamber operas, Theotokia and The War Reporter explore hallucination and haunting memories, while his monodrama, My Lai portrays the ethical dilemmas of an individual placed in an impossible situation.

Berger’s “dissonant but supple” (NY Times) compositions are often inspired by science and the human condition, including the adaptation of satellite imaging data to turn the dispersal of an oil spill into music (Jiyeh), spatial representation of brain activations of a schizophrenic hallucination (Theotokia), and sonic expression of the chemical spectroscopy of cancer (Diameters). His symphonic, chamber, vocal, and electroacoustic works are performed throughout the world.

A Guggenheim Fellow and winner of the Rome Prize, Berger has been thrice commissioned by The National Endowment for the Arts, with major commissions from The Mellon and Rockefeller Foundations, Chamber Music America, and numerous chamber music societies and ensembles. 

In addition to composition, Berger is an active researcher with over 60 publications in a wide range of fields relating to music, science and technology and has held research grants from DARPA, the Wallenberg Foundation and others. Berger received a major grant from the Templeton Religion Trust to study 'Sound, Space and the Aesthetics of the Sublime'. His interest in the relationship between acoustics and music includes current research in Rome, Mantua and Naples.

Berger is the Denning Family Provostial Professor in Music at Stanford University, where he teaches composition, music theory, and cognition at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). 

“Jonathan was a treasure! In addition to being extremely knowledgeable about music in general and opera in particular, he presented exciting lectures, and constantly shared with us his many wonderful insights. And equally important he was a superb one-on-one companion and conversationalist, on any subject. I would travel with him anywhere!”

Fred Nichols, Opus Mediterraneano, 2017

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