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Dalit Warshaw

Forest Hills, NY      

“She played with unassuming grace … The music was unearthly … This is the kind of concert that 2013 was supposed to have ….” ~ San Francisco Chronicle, June 2013

An internationally acclaimed composer, pianist and thereminist, Dalit Warshaw’s works have been performed by numerous orchestral ensembles, including the New York and Israel Philharmonic Orchestras (Zubin Mehta conducting), the Boston Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, and the Grand Rapids Symphony.

Awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2016, her theremin concerto, Sirens, was premiered in October 2019 by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and subsequently performed by the Albany Symphony in November. Sirens was listed among “Boston’s Best Classical Music Concerts in 2019” by the Boston Globe.

In 2017, she received an OPERA America Discovery Grant for Female Composers, along with the Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, given to mid-career composers of exceptional gifts. Since becoming the youngest winner of the BMI Award for an orchestral work written at the age of eight, additional awards include five ASCAP Foundation Grants to Young Composers, a Fulbright Scholarship to Israel, a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and two BMI Awards. 

As a pianist, Warshaw has performed widely as both soloist and chamber player, in venues as diverse as Avery Fisher Hall, Miller Theater, Alice Tully Hall and the Stone. She has soloed with the Rockland Symphony, Cheyenne Symphony, and the Misgav Chamber Players under the direction of Lukas Foss, and premiered Conjuring Tristan, her “narrative concerto for piano and orchestra,” with the Grand Rapids Symphony in 2015. She was described by the Grand Rapids Press as “a graceful and sensitive pianist [and] an intriguing orchestrator who draws a wealth of colors from an ensemble.”

Having studied theremin with the renowned Clara Rockmore from an early age, she has appeared as theremin soloist with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the New York Festival of Song, and the San Francisco Symphony, also performing with the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the American Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, among other ensembles.

Her CD, Invocations, was released in January 2011 and is available on Albany Records. Alongside works for solo piano and voice, this disc integrates the theremin with acoustic ensembles in ways that exhibit the more lyrical, vocal and expressive capacities of this unusual instrument, and that reveal its limitless ways of blending and interacting with different timbral combinations. On it, Warshaw performs on a unique and profoundly historical instrument: Clara Rockmore’s theremin, which was built and customized to her specifications by its inventor, Lev Termen, in the early 1930’s, and on which she last performed in 1993.

A full-time faculty member of the composition/theory department at the Boston Conservatory from 2004 to 2014, Warshaw obtained her doctorate in music composition from the Juilliard School, also teaching orchestration there from 2000 to 2005. Additional awards include five ASCAP Foundation Grants to Young Composers, a Fulbright Scholarship to Israel, a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and two BMI Awards. Warshaw has held multiple residencies at the Yaddo and MacDowell Artist Colonies, and is also a graduate of Columbia University. She currently teaches on the composition faculties of CUNY- Brooklyn College and the Juilliard Evening Division.


CONJURING TRISTAN for piano and orchestra (2015)

Dalit Warshaw, composer and pianist
Grand Rapids Symphony
David Lockington, conductor

This “narrative concerto” is based upon Thomas Mann’s novella “Tristan,” in which Mann’s familiar theme of the irreconcilable dichotomy between Life and Art is revisited through the character of Gabriele, a young mother and former pianist in treatment for consumption. The piece incorporates the leitmotifs of Wagner’s opera (notably in the cadenza, as the piano/protagonist plays a fantasy on his themes, corresponding to the climactic moment in Mann’s story).

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WHILE IN BABYLON (for one-woman theremin choir)

Music and theremin performance by Dalit Warshaw.

“While in Babylon” was initially conceived as an a cappella setting of the Hebrew psalm “Al Naharot Bavel” (“By the Waters of Babylon”) during the week of Sept. 11, 2001. For this project, I recorded all four voices (SATB) on theremin through overdubbing. I also employed the Electro-Harmonix Talking Machine, a device chiefly used in conjunction with electric guitars in order to expand their timbral palette, adding a vast spectrum of quasi-vocal effects.

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TRANSFORMATION (for theremin and string quartet)

For this piece, I sought to feature the theremin as both a chamber and soloistic entity, combining it with strings to reconcile two distinct and seemingly opposing sound-worlds that nevertheless share such human qualities. The world of sultry enchantment and bucolic peace that I longed to portray in this work called for the color of this instrument, at its best a Siren-like voice of utmost expressivity and lyricism. My image was that of a newborn shoot sprouting from within a tangle of branches, burgeoning into a blossoming and majestic tree.

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NewMusicBox Articles

NewMusicBox March 16 2021 | By Dalit Warshaw
Road From Heiligenstadt: A Composer’s Perspective on Surviving COVID

On April 4, 2020, I was diagnosed with COVID-19. I began exhibiting symptoms on March 26, and started my self-isolation at home before moving elsewhere, to maintain the health of...