Nancy Galbraith (b.1951) resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, where she is Professor of Composition at Carnegie Mellon University. In a career that spans three decades, her music has earned praise for its rich harmonic texture, rhythmic vitality, emotional and spiritual depth, and wide range of expression. Her works have been directed by some of the world's finest conductors, including Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Mariss Jansons, Keith Lockhart, Sidney Harth, Samuel Jones, and Robert Page. Her compositions are featured on numerous recordings, including six anthologies. With major contributions to the repertoires of symphony orchestras, concert choirs, wind ensembles, chamber ensembles, electroacoustic ensembles, and soloists, Galbraith plays a leading role in defining the sound of contemporary classical music. Curriculum VitaeBrief BioPortrait Photos

  Symphony Orchestra
Wind Ensembles
Chamber Music
Choral and Vocal
Piano and Organ
Sacred Music
Et Cetera
Early Years
symphony orchestra

Galbraith has had six works performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, beginning with the 1988 premiere of Morning Litany, directed by the eminent Russian conductor Gennady Rozhdetsvensky. The orchestra followed with performances of Danza de los Duendes in 1992, Piano Concerto No. 1 in 1995, and Tormenta del Sur in 2001. In 1998 the PSO commissioned and premiered A Festive Violet Pulse for a celebration welcoming its new music director Mariss Jansons. De profundis ad lucem was commissioned by California University of Pennsylvania to celebrate its 150th anniversary and was premiered there by the PSO in 2002. The work received its European premiere with the Limburgs Symfonie Orkest in the Netherlands in 2011.

In 2014, the PSO will perform Galbraith's Euphonic Blues with guest conductor Donald Runnicles. Euphonic Blues was premiered in 2012 by the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic Orchestra for the 100th anniversary celebration of the Carnegie Mellon School of Music.

Galbraith's Piano Concerto No. 1 was recorded by conductor Keith Lockhart (Boston Pops, Utah Symphony) with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and pianist Ralph Zitterbart. It was released in 1996 on Ocean Records' premiere disc titled New Energy From the Americas. The concerto has been aired on radio stations across North America, and has received praise from Fanfare Magazine, American Record Guide, and the Cincinnati Inquirer who wrote, "A formidable work for piano in three movements, this is an equally virtuoso piece for orchestra, and a welcome addition to the concerto literature of this century." In 1997 USAirways featured the third movement of the concerto on its classical music station, in a program titled "Great Piano Music".

The composer has also enjoyed two premieres by the Orquesta Sinfónica de Tucumán in Argentina—Danza de los Duendes (1992), and Tormenta del Sur (1995)—where La Gazeta described her as "one of the most outstanding composers of her generation along with Philip Glass and John Adams." In 2003 the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra (Pennsylvania) commissioned Fantasy for Orchestra for its 75th anniversary.

wind ensembles

Nancy Galbraith has attained international recognition as a composer of wind ensemble music. Her works have become standard repertoire for concert bands around the world, and are regularly performed and recorded by some of its finest ensembles.

Her most popular work for this genre, Danza de los Duendes, has enjoyed well over 100 concert performances. The Musashino Academy Wind Ensemble programmed the work for its 2001 tour of Japan, and the Yale Concert Band performed it on its tour of Mexico in 2009. Danza de los Duendes is frequently played in band competitions in Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway. It has been recorded by a number of college ensembles, most notably the North Texas Wind Symphony, who's popular Klavier disk Dream Catchers opens with Danza de los Duendes.

Galbraith's other popular works for this genre—with brightness round about it (1993), Wind Symphony No. 1 (1996), and Elfin Thunderbolt (1998)—have collectively received over 60 concert performances, and appear of several recordings, including the IUP Wind Ensemble's Internal Combustion on the Klavier label, and Albany Records' Nancy Galbraith: Atacama.

The composer's unique and spirited Concerto for Piano and Wind Ensemble (2000) has also found its way into the wind ensemble repertoire with recent performances in Chicago, Germany, and Cornell University. The concerto appears on a CD titled Nancy Galbraith (2003) along with her Missa Mysteriorum (for choir and wind ensemble), with performances by the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh and the Carnegie Mellon Wind Ensemble.

Pittsburgh's River City Brass Band commissioned and premiered Washington's Landing in 2006 and Luminosity in 2008, which was presented in honor of the city's 250th birthday. In 2010, Altena Brass of the Netherlands performed Luminosity on its annual Easter concert, and commissioned the composer's Euphonic Blues for Brass for its Easter concert in 2013.

Galbraith's commissioned work, Streaming Green, became an instant hit for American flute choirs after its premiere at the 2009 National Flute Association Convention in New York City. It was also performed at the 2010 and 2011 conventions in California and North Carolina, and in over 25 concerts across the United States, including a Christmas recital in the White House East Room. Alaska's Arctic Wind Flute Choir featured Streaming Green on its 2011 concert tour of New Zealand.

In 2012, the composer's newest work for concert bands, Febris Ver (Spring Fever), was premiered at the Concert Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) Easterd Division Conference by the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Wind Ensemble.

chamber music

Galbraith's most recent chamber works include four electroacoustic compositions, Traverso Mistico (2006), Night Train (2008), Other Sun (2009), and Effervescent Air (2012) [see next section], and a woodwind sextet, Reflections (2008), that was performed at the Asian Double Reed Association's 2011 Inaugural Conference by the Mahidol University Contemporary Enclave in Thailand.

Pittsburgh Symphony concertmaster Andrés Cárdenes premiered Galbraith's duet, Idyll (2008), and was accompanied on the piano by the composer. Pittsburgh Symphony principal players Cynthia Koledo DeAlmeida (oboe) and Nancy Goeres (bassoon) premiered Incantation and Allegro in 1995, and later recorded the work for Élan Recordings' Nancy Galbraith: Four Chamber Works (1999). Pittsburgh Symphony principal harpist Gretchen Van Hoesen commissioned and premiered Two Moods for Harp in 2006.

Galbraith's Atacama Sonata was premiered at The Juilliard School by Chilean artists Alberto Almarza (flute) and Luz Manriquez (piano) in 2001, and later recorded for Albany Records' CD, Nancy Galbraith: Atacama (2003). The composer's woodwind trio Aeolian Muses (1993) has received performances by New York Philharmonic musicians Pascual Martinez Forteza (clarinet) and Kim Laskowski (bassoon) in recitals at The Harmonie Club in Manhattan.

In 1999 ÉLAN Recordings released a disk titled Nancy Galbraith: Four Chamber Works, which received enthusiastic critical acclaim from several publications including American Record Guide, Records International, and Chamber Music, who praised the disk's closing work, Rhythms and Rituals (1995), as "An example of the kind of piece that should be the 'sound of classical music' on today's radio stations."

Galbraith has composed three works for Mexico's award-winning string quartet, Cuarteto Latinoamericano, who premiered String Quartet No. 1 in 1996, Inquiet Spirits in 2000, and String Quartet No. 3 in 2005. The three works are featured on the CD collection, Nancy Galbraith: Cuarteto Latinoamericano (2008), that also includes Introduction and Allegro for Violin and Piano (2006) performed by Cuarteto violinist Saúl Bitrán and pianist Luz Manriquez.

In 2003 Galbraith completed Of Nature, a double reed quartet commissioned by the University of Texas at Austin for bassoonist Kristin Wolfe Jensen and oboist Rebecca Henderson, who premiered the work at the International Double Reed Society conference at the University of North Carolina. The composer's Sonata for Bassoon and Piano was chosen as the contemporary music selection for the program of required works for the 2007 Meg Quigley Vivaldi Competition. The winner performed the work at the International Double Reed Society conference in Ithaca, New York.

Mexico's Trío Neos commissioned and premiered Aeolian Muses in 1993, and performs it regularly on tours throughout North and Central America. In 2000 the group released a CD titled Mujeres de las Américas (Quindecim Recordings), which opens with Galbraith's trio. A third ensemble from Mexico, Sinfonietta Ventus, commissioned the composer to write Dos Danzas Latinas (2002), which they premiered and recorded for the Nancy Galbraith: Atacama CD. Both Trío Neos and Sinfonietta Ventus have performed the composer's works at Mexico's prominent Festival Internacional Cervantino in Guanajuato.

Capstone Records' recent CD set, Points of Entry: The Laurels Project features numerous works by contemporary women composers, including Galbraith's flute solo Voices That Beautify the Earth performed by Nancy Stagnitta.

The composer's haunting percussion trio, Island Echoes (2000), was presented at the 7th Festival of Women Composers International by the IUP Percussion Trio, who late recorded the work for Centaur Records' Nancy Galbraith: Other Sun (2011). She has also had several works premiered by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, including Into Light (1989), Fantasia (1986), and Time Cycle (1984).


Galbraith has recently collaborated with world-renowned Baroque flutist Stephen Schultz on three new works featuring electroacoustic performances on electric cellos and Baroque-era flutes. In 2006 Traverso Mistico was premiered by Schultz, cellist Barney Culver, and the Carnegie Mellon Contemporary Ensemble. This success was followed with the 2008 premiere of Night Train, presented by Schultz, Pittsburgh's cross-over electric cello trio Cello Fury, and a percussion section of marimba and drums. In 2009, Schultz and Cello Fury presented the premiere of the composer's Other Sun.

In this trilogy of works, Galbraith makes use of guitar effects processors and amplification to produce enhanced flute and cello timbres, echoes, loops, and delays. The three premieres were received with great enthusiasm by audiences at Carnegie Mellon University, and were broadcasted live on WQED-FM in Pittsburgh. The three works are featured on Centaur Records' new album Nancy Galbraith: Other Sun released in 2011.

Galbraith's oratorio Novena (2007) premiered at Chicago's St. Procopius Abbey with four vocal soloists, a chamber orchestra, and pre-recorded audio featuring the composer's sound designs, which make use of primitive flutes and chants, inter-faith prayer recitations, animal voices, and original sounds created in her home studio. The audio integrates seamlessly with the live performances of the vocalists and instrumentalists.

In 2012, Galbraith composed a fourth work for Schultz—a 3-movement piece for electric Baroque flute, piano and chamber orchestra, titled Effervescent Air, which was premiered with the Carnegie Mellon Baroque Orchestra.


Galbraith composed her first ballet suite in 2013 for a commission awarded by the Bodiography Contemporary Ballet Company in Pittsburgh, PA. Whispers of Light, choreographed by founding director Maria Caruso, was premiered in two concerts that celebrated the Highmark Caring Place—an organization, with four facilities in western Pennsylvania, that champions the cause of grieving children and provides programs in support of children and their families who have suffered tragic losses.

choral and vocal

In 2005, Nancy Galbraith's Requiem was premiered by the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh with the Academy Chamber Orchestra. Commissioned by music director Robert Page, the work concluded the celebrated conductor's 26th and final year with the Mendelssohn Choir. Declared "a masterpiece" by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Requiem is a landmark display of the composer's creative and technical proficiency crafted into a work of profound inspiration and spiritual power.

Galbraith first attained distinction as a choral composer in 1999 when the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, conducted by Robert Page, commissioned and premiered Missa Mysteriorum (Mass of the Mysteries). Scored for choir and wind ensemble, the composer's glorious Mass merged her sacred and concert art music styles into a work described by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as "both spiritual and radiant, with an immediacy that can't be ignored." It has since been performed by the University of Chicago Chorus, the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, the Choral Art Society of Portland Maine, the Akron Symphony Chorus, and numerous others. In 2002 the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh gave repeat performances at the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Convention in Pittsburgh, and recorded the Mass for a CD titled Nancy Galbraith.

The success of her Mass quickly led to a string of commissions for new choral and vocal works. The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg commissioned Magnificat in 2002. The premiere was followed with performances by Seraphin at St. Paul's Chapel at Columbia University, Ars Musica Chorale in New Jersey, St. George's Chorale Society in New York, and was the closing work for the 7th Festival of Women Composers International in Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Camerata commissioned Galbraith in 2003 to write Four River Songs, and again in 2006 for Sacred Songs and Interludes, which features texts from the seven major world religions. The Camerata later recorded the work, along with Galbraith's O Magnum Mysterium and Ave Maria, for their album titled Nancy Galbraith: Sacred Songs and Interludes.

Also in 2006, Galbraith was commissioned by Beit Benedict United States to compose Novena, an oratorio for four vocal solists, chamber orchestra, and pre-recorded audio elements. The Chicago premiere in 2007 was presented to raise funds and awareness for the Beit Benedict Interfaith Peace Academy at Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem. The new facilities are planned to provide space and resources for community leaders representing Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, who seek solutions for peace in the Holy Land.

The following year she was commissioned by the Providence Singers (Rhode Island)—with a National Endowment for the Arts grant—to compose Two Emily Dickinson Songs, which was premiered by CONCORA at the 2007 American Masterpieces Choral Festival in Providence.

The Order of St. Benedict at St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, Illinois commissioned Galbraith to compose Lumen Christi to celebrate the order's 125th anniversary. The work was premiered in a concert at the abbey in 2012 by the Benet Academy Madrigal Singers.

In 2011, the composer was once again honored by the Providence Singers in a concert titled "The Music of Nancy Galbraith." The program included the premiere of her commissioned work, Sonnet 116 (Shakespeare), which was the subject of a feature article in Chorus America's Singer Network advocating the benefits and rewards of choral commissioning.

In 2012, Four Nature Canticles—featuring poems by Dickinson, Browning, Joyce and Frost— was commissioned and premiered by the Kent Place Chamber Singers and Lyrica Chamber Music in Chatham, New Jersey.

The Harvard Glee Club and Radcliffe Choral Society recently commissioned Winter Songs, which they will premiere at a joint Christmas concert this year in Cambridge, MA.

piano and organ

Composer Galbraith is also an accomplished pianist and organist, and has written and performed a number of works for those instruments. She performed the premiere of her first professional work, Haunted Fantasy (1979), in a concert with the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. At Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Arts Festival she played the premiere of her Prelude for Piano (1986). In her earlier years at Carnegie Mellon University she performed in numerous recitals as an accompanist and soloist.

Her virtuosic and inspired Piano Sonata No. 1 (1997) is a familiar fixture in contemporary piano music literature. Coincidentally, pianists Nancy Boston and Leslie Spotz included the sonata on their programs for tours of the US and Europe in 2006. Pittsburgh Symphony principle pianist Patricia Prattis Jennings has played the sonata on a number of occasions, and recorded it for Albany Records' Nancy Galbraith: Atacama (2003). The sonata recently received its Asian premiere in Seoul by pianist Sangjung Lee, who premiered Galbraith's Three Preludes for Piano in Seoul in 2013.

Galbraith frequently performs her own organ works, and has concertized on several of the finest instruments in the Pittsburgh area, and on the chapel organ at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. Her Gloria Te Deum was performed by Thomas Weisflog at the University of Chicago's Rockefeller Chapel. Organist Carson Cooman has performed a number of Galbraith's works in concerts throughout the US, including a Harvard University Halloween Recital.

sacred music

In addition to her epic works Missa Mysteriorum (1999), Requiem (2004), and Lumen Christi (2009), which set traditional Latin Christian texts, Galbraith has composed several concert vocal works with inter-faith themes. God of Justice (2004) and Novena (2006) combine sacred texts from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Sacred Songs and Interludes (2006) celebrates texts from the world's seven major religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Tao, Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Concurrent with her concert music career, Galbraith has enjoyed great success as a composer of music for church choirs and congregations. Drawing upon her experience as music director and organist at Christ Lutheran Church in Pittsburgh, she has produced a sizeable collection of anthems, canons, liturgical settings, and organ works. Her most popular sacred anthems include In Unity and Love (1997), Christ By Whose Death (1999), and O Magnum Mysterium (2006), which was premiered by the Beit Benedict Festival Choir at St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, Illinois. In 2010, Christ By Whose Death was sung by an 800-voice choir at the 56th Annual Ocean Grove Choir Festival in New Jersey.

Since 1997 she has enjoyed a special relationship with the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. During this time she has composed several commissioned works, has appeared as Artist-in-Residence, and has performed and conducted her own works. In 2001 the seminary presented a concert of Galbraith's sacred works to celebrate the seminary's 175th Anniversary. The concert concluded with a performance of Missa Mysteriorum, presented by the combined forces of the Schola Cantorum of Gettysburg, the Seminary Motet Choir, and the Music Gettysburg! Wind Band. A performance of her In Unity and Love is an annual event at the seminary's graduation ceremonies.

et cetera

Galbraith is in frequent demand as a guest lecturer and clinician. Past engagements include appearances at the Women's Composer Festival of Hartford, the National Collegiate Choral Organization Condference, UCLA, California State University at Northridge, Julliard, the University of Chicago, Vassar College, Northwestern College (Minnesota), Washington and Jefferson College, the Patabsco High School & Center for the Arts (Baltimore), and the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts. Most recently, she served on a 3-composer panel for the McKnight Artists Fellowships Program in St. Paul, and presented a lecture on "Women in Music" at the Kent Place School in Summit, New Jersey.

In 2004 she was engaged as the featured Artist-in-Residence at the 7th Festival of Women Composers International sponsored by Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The event included numerous performances of her works along with those of other prominent writers, including Libby Larson and Katherine Hoover. She also delivered the keynote address and participated in several preconcert lectures.

Galbraith has worked as a recording producer on many of her own albums, and was engaged to help produce the Mendelssohn Choir/River City Brass CD, Christmas!, which was the declared favorite of astronaut John Glenn on his 1998 Space Shuttle mission.

A prolific and obsessive composer, Galbraith devotes the same amount of time and energy to her students at Carnegie Mellon University, where she is highly respected as a teacher of composition, orchestration, and theory.

early years

Nancy Galbraith was born into a musical family on January 27, 1951 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began piano studies at the age of four with her mother, pianist/organist Alverta Hoffman Riddle, who passed her along to pianist Fredrick Schiefelbein. She also enjoyed the encouragement and support of her uncle, Pittsburgh Symphony violinist Freeman Hoffman. During her teen years she studied piano with Father Ignatius Purda at St. Vincent's College, and music theory and piano at the Carnegie Mellon Preparatory School of Music. She also studied clarinet with the Pittsburgh Symphony's Jerry Levine, and was first chair clarinet of the Allegheny Valley Honors Band for four years. Galbraith earned degrees in composition from Ohio University (BM, 1972) and West Virginia University (MM, 1978), and continued studies in composition, piano, and organ at Carnegie Mellon University.