Gilda Lyons, composer

Co-Chair of Composition, Wintergreen Summer Music Academy

Gilda Lyons, Composer

Gilda Lyons, Composer


GILDA LYONS, (b. 1975), composer, vocalist, and visual artist, combines elements of renaissance, neo-baroque, spectral, folk, agitprop Music Theater, and extended vocalism to create works of uncompromising emotional honesty and melodic beauty. 

The premiere of A New Kind of Fallout—Lyons’ mainstage opera inspired by the life and work of Rachel Carson, written with librettist Tammy Ryan, and commissioned by Opera Theater of Pittsburgh—was described as “powerfully effective” (Pittsburgh Stage Magazine), “haunting” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) and “spot-on at re-creating the atmosphere of the early '60s” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review).

As composer, current recording projects include the release of Lyons’ work by Quince and entelechron in the upcoming season. Lyons’ vocal collaboration with Laura Ward will be released on Lyric Fest’s all-Hagen CD. Sing for Hope featured Lyons' Hold On on their most recent release, An AIDS Quilt Songbook. Lindsey Goodman's tour de force performance of Lyons' Chrysalis was released on Goodman's debut CD, reach through the sky. As composer and vocalist her works and performances are available on the Clarion, GPR Records, Naxos, New Dynamic Records, and Roven Records labels.

Premieres in Ann Arbor, Beijing, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Seattle, Tokyo and beyond include: Alice Awakens (Wintergreen Festival Orchestra, Erin Freeman, conductor / Foot in the Door Ensemble, Edward Cumming, conductor / University of Pittsburgh Orchestra, Roger Zahab, conductor); Alignment Failed (Blythe Gaissert & Louis Levitt, New York City / Gilda Lyons & Robert Black, Hartford, CT); Scales and Tales (Mirror Visions Ensemble: Musée des arts Decoratifs, Paris / Performing Arts Library of Lincoln Center, New York City / Kerrytown Concert House, Ann Arbor, MI); walk, run, fly for pre-recorded sound & voice (The Flea Theater, New York City); Lady Beetle for koto (Torifony Hall, Tokyo); La Novia de Tola (Beijing New Music Ensemble, Beijing / Finisterra Trio, Seattle / entelechron, New York City); Invocations for shakuhachi & voice (Kyo-Shin-An Arts, New York City) and rapid transit (5 Borough Music Festival, New York City, available on iTunes and GPR Records).

Lyons serves on the Board of Advisors of Composers Now and teaches composition at The Hartt School, University of Hartford. She is Artistic and Executive Director of The Phoenix Concerts, New York's "intrepid" and "plucky Upper West Side new-music series" (The New Yorker). Composer-in-Residencies include Wintergreen Summer Music Academy (2015-2017); Connecticut Summerfest (2017); Vermont's New Music on the Point (2013); Seasons Music Festival in Washington State (2009-2012); and Hartford Women Composers Festival (2011).

Commissions include works for The ASCAP Foundation / Charles Kingsford Fund, American Opera Projects, Amy Pivar Dances, Beijing New Music Ensemble, Carrie Koffman, ComposersCollaborative Inc., Lara Downes, entelechron, Fort Greene Park Conservancy, Yumi Korosawa, Kyo-Shin-An Arts, Mirror Visions Ensemble, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Panic Duo, Paul Sperry, Seraphim, Sweet Plantain String Quartet, The Walt Whitman Project, Wintergreen Summer Music Academy, and 5 Borough Music Festival, among many others.  

An active vocalist and fierce advocate of contemporary music, Lyons has commissioned, premiered, and workshopped new vocal works by dozens of composers. Of her performance in Daron Hagen's Shining Brow (Buffalo Philharmonic/Falletta) (Naxos) David Shengold of Opera, UK writes "Gilda Lyons's clear soprano compels admiration."

Lyons’ music is published by Schott, E.C. Schirmer and Burning Sled.  She received her Ph.D. in Music Composition from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and Bard College. Lyons made her professional debut as composer and vocalist with the American Symphony Chamber Orchestra in 1997, performing the world premiere of her orchestral song cycle Feis.