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Rob Kapilow

Born: 1952

Nationality: American

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Photo © Peter Schaaf, 2004

With his diverse array of talents and his infectious enthusiasm for all things musical,Rob Kapilow brings the pleasures of classical music to audiences of all ages and backgrounds. As reported in the Boston Globe, “It’s a cheering thought that this kind of missionary enterprise did not pass from this earth with Leonard Bernstein. Robert Kapilow is awfully good at what he does.We need him."

Kapilow was the first composer ever to be granted the rights to set Dr. Seuss’swords to music, and his Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham was premiered by the New Jersey Chamber Music Society in 1995. It has since achieved great popularity in the children's theater world, prompting BostonGlobe music critic Richard Dyer to declare it the most popular children's piece since ‘Peter and the Wolf’. Kapilow has continued his tradition of writing delightfully theatrical children’s music and in 2014 released a critically acclaimed recording of his settings of The Polar Express featuring Nathan Gunn, and Dr. Seuss’s Gertrude McFuzz featuring Isabel Leonard on GPR records.

Kapilow’s well-known “Citypieces” involve entire communities in the process of conceiving and creating a new piece of music. Among these are Chrysopylae,premiered by the Marin Symphony and Chorus in May 2012 to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge; Union Station, premiered by the Kansas City Symphony in 2000 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Kansas City; and D.C. Monuments, premiered by the National Symphony in 2000 with the composer conducting. For the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase in 2002, he composed 03 (This New, Immense, Unbounded World), which the Louisiana Philharmonic toured throughout the state and performed on Louisiana Public Television.

Kapilow’s most ambitious “Citypiece,” commemorating the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition, premiered in September 2004. Co-commissioned by the Carlsen Center, the Saint Louis Symphony, and the Louisiana Philharmonic,Summer Sun, Winter Moon has a text by Darrell Robes Kipp, a member of the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana, and recalls the events from the perspective of those “on the banks of the river.” Summer Sun, Winter Moon came full circle when it returned to Montana with the Helena Symphony in October 2005.A documentary film of the same name followed the composition’s process from conception to premiere and was broadcast nationwide on PBS.

Kapilow's compositions span a broad spectrum of mediums including: Crosstown M42, an a cappella youth chorus collaboration with sound-effect artist Fred Newman of “A Prairie Home Companion;” Jabberwocky, on Lewis Carroll’s poem, for chorus, chamber ensemble, and dancers; Paddywak: A Tap Dance Concerto, premiered by Ayodele Casel in 2007 at Lincoln Center; Elijah’s Angel, a setting of the celebrated children's book by Michael Rosen; and his first opera, Many Moons, based on the James Thurber story with a libretto by Hilary Blecher, which premiered in January 1997. Other family pieces include And Furthermore They Bite (2000), a companion piece to Carnival of the Animals, and Play Ball!, a staged setting of the famous Thayer poem “Casey at the Bat.”

Traveling the country and enlightening audiences about classical music, Kapilow is well known for his acclaimed program “What Makes It Great?” He initially gained recognition through ten years of regular installments on National Public Radio,which expanded into full-length concert evenings and series throughout North America, where Kapilow's interactive presentation has lured thousands of new listeners to the concert hall. In 2015, PBS Newshour invited Kapilow to be a regular guest on their show to discuss the stories behind some of the greatest pieces ever written.  

What characterizes all of Kapilow's work is his ability to create an “aha” moment for his audiences and collaborators, and his dedication to bringing music to the public. Opening new ears to musical experiences, Kapilow is helping people to understand how music can enrich, reflect, and enhance their daily lives –whether it's through his conversation with Katie Couric on NBC’s Today Show, his analysis of the Pentatonix's “Angels We Have Heard On High” on YouTube, or his award-winning books What Makes It Great? and All You Have To Do Is Listen. He is currently writing a third book for Norton/Liveright entitled Listening to America which will be released in 2017. 

Mr. Kapilow has conducted many of North America's finest orchestras including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the National Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony,Atlanta Symphony, Toronto Symphony, National Art Center Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra as well as orchestras in Europe and Asia. Additionally, he has performed at many of America's most prestigious music festivals including Ravinia, Saratoga, Caramoor, and the Aspen Music Festival.

Kapilow was music director of the Yale Symphony Orchestra and Opera New England, as well as assistant conductor of the Opera Company of Boston andthe Bridgeport Symphony. Kapilow is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale University, a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, and a student of Nadia Boulanger. He was an assistant professor of music for six years at Yale University and has lectured and taught at universities throughout America.

Rob Kapilow's music is published exclusively by G. Schirmer, Inc.

— September 2017

For specific inquiries about this composer, please contact or call 212-254-2100.

Booking requests and conducting engagements:

Colbert Artists Management
Lee Prinz
307 Seventh Avenue, Suite 2006
New York, NY 10001
(212) 757-0782

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