Stephen Andrew Taylor (b. 1965) composes music that explores boundaries between art and science. His first orchestra commission, Unapproachable Light—inspired by images from the Hubble Space Telescope and the New Testament—was premiered in 1996 in Carnegie Hall. Other works include the chamber quartet Quark Shadows, commissioned by the Chicago Symphony and premiered in 2001; and Seven Memorials, a 32-minute cycle for piano inspired by the work of Maya Lin and premiered by Gloria Cheng in Los Angeles, 2004; it was also featured at Tanglewood in 2006. Excerpts from a new opera based on a novella by Ursula K. Le Guin have been performed recently by the New York City Opera and American Opera Projects. Highlights in 2008 include premieres in Amsterdam, Belgrade, the Bali Arts Festival, and the US.
Besides composing for traditional instruments, Taylor also works with live electronics in pieces such as Nebulae for harp, laptop and live video, premiered by Ann Yeung in Dublin, 2005; the video is based on paintings by his wife Hua Nian. He is also active as a conductor with the University of Illinois New Music Ensemble, and as a theorist.
He studied at Northwestern and Cornell Universities, and the California Institute of the Arts. His music has won awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Howard Foundation, Northwestern, Cornell, the Conservatoire Américain de Fontainebleau, the Debussy Trio, the Illinois Arts Council, the American Music Center, and ASCAP among others. Among his commissions are works for Northwestern University, University of Illinois, the Syracuse Society for New Music, Pink Martini and the Oregon Symphony, the Quad City Symphony, the Chicago Symphony MusicNOW series, and the American Composers Orchestra. Taylor is Associate Professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
The Dove Is Sad is a brief remembrance of the Hungarian composer György Ligeti (1923-2006). Its title is translated from the Hungarian title of Ligeti’s seventh Piano Etude, Galam Borong” He chose this phrase because of its evocative, Indonesian sound; its actual Hungarian meaning is incidental, a private joke. But in the days after his passing, reflecting on his life and his indispensable place in contemporary music, this jest captured for me both the humor and tragedy in his capricious, magical music. This work is dedicated to the wonderful pianists Gloria Cheng, Amy Briggs, and William Heiles.