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Tony Arnold


The Chicago Tribune writes, “anything sung by soprano Tony Arnold is worth hearing.” Hailed by the New York Times as “a bold and powerful interpreter,” she is recognized internationally as a leading proponent of new music in concert and recording, praised for her sparkling and insightful performances of the most daunting contemporary scores. Since becoming the first-prize laureate of the both the 2001 Gaudeamus International Competition (NL) and the 2001 Louise D. McMahon Competition (USA), Ms. Arnold has collaborated with the most cutting-edge composers and instrumentalists on the world stage, receiving consistent critical accolades for a voice of beauty and warmth, an uncanny technical facility, sterling musicianship, and riveting stage presence. “Simply put, she is a rock-star in this genre” (Sequenza 21).

Tony Arnold is the soprano of the intrepid International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), and with them has premiered over 25 new works written expressly for her voice. In 2013-14, Ms. Arnold will make her debut performances with Ensemble Modern in a new work by Beat Furrer. Her appearances with US ensembles have included Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW, Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Talea Ensemble, Ensemble 21, eighth blackbird, Contempo, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, New York New Music Ensemble, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Fulcrum Point, and many others. She has toured the US extensively as a member of the George Crumb Ensemble.

A frequent guest artist at international festivals on four continents, Tony Arnold was featured at the 2008 Darmstadt International Music Festival, the premier contemporary music venue of Europe. This year, she returns to the Cervantino Festival (Mexico) in music of Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon. With violin virtuoso Movses Pogossian, she has taken György Kurtág’s monumental Kafka Fragments to more than 40 venues across the world, including the Tongyeong International Music Festival (Korea), and the Perspectives XXI Festival (Armenia). Every summer, Ms. Arnold sings and teaches at the soundSCAPE Festival in Maccagno, Italy. In 2014, she will return to the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival to premiere a new work by Australian composer Brett Dean, commissioned by the festival for Ms. Arnold and the Orion String Quartet.

Tony Arnold is one of the most recorded singers of contemporary music, with more than two-dozen discs to her credit on labels including Bridge, Naxos, New Focus, and Mode. Her recording of George Crumb’s Ancient Voices of Children (Bridge) was nominated for a 2006 Grammy Award. Other notable releases include a CD/DVD set of Kafka Fragments (Bridge); Messiaen’s epic song cycle Harawi (New Focus) with pianist and long-time collaborator Jacob Greenberg; Jason Eckardt’s Undersong (Mode) with ICE; and Berio’s Sequenza III and the complete chamber songs of Webern (both on Naxos). Upcoming releases will include works of Xenakis, Josh Levine, and the complete songs with piano of Webern.

As an active participant in the creation and commissioning of new music from both established and emerging composers, Tony Arnold has premiered over 200 new works to date. Recent premieres have included music by Georges Aperghis, David Lang, Philippe Manoury, Pamela Madsen, Fredrick Gifford, David Liptak, Christopher Theofanidis, John Zorn, and David Gompper. In 2012, Ms. Arnold and violinist Movses Pogossian were the recipients of a coveted Chamber Music America Commissioning Grant to support the creation of a new work by Gabriela Lena Frank.

In 2009, Ms. Arnold was the first performer ever invited to be the Howard Hanson Distinguished Professor of Composition at the Eastman School of Music. Since 2003 she has served on the faculty of the University at Buffalo, where she founded the extended vocal techniques ensemble, BABEL. In both of these settings, she has worked on a sustained basis with student composers, singers, and instrumentalists. She is regularly engaged to perform, lecture, and teach master classes in universities worldwide.

Tony Arnold is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University. Growing up in suburban Baltimore, she composed, sang, and played every instrument she could persuade her parents to let her bring home, but never intended to become a professional vocalist. Instead, she applied her broad musical background to the study of orchestral conducting. Following graduate school, she was thrice a fellow of the Aspen Music Festival (twice as a conductor, then again later as a singer), and she enjoyed success as the music director of several orchestras in the Chicago area. When she was in her early thirties, Ms. Arnold reconnected with her love of singing, and discovered a special ability for making the most complex music accessible to every audience. Having been inspired by many mentors, she is especially indebted to the teaching of sopranos Carmen Mehta and Carol Webber, conductors Robert Spano and Victor Yampolsky, and composer György Kurtág.

Articles by Tony Arnold:

Articles December 21 2011 | By Tony Arnold
Digging Deeper: Singing the Music of Elliott Carter

The crux of the matter in grasping Elliott Carter’s difficult and satisfying music lies not in conquering its inherent and unavoidable technical issues. What’s crucial is finding the broader context...