Dr. Andrew A. Watts (b. 1989) is a composer of chamber, symphonic, multimedia, and electro-acoustic works regularly performed throughout North America and Europe. His compositions have been premiered at world-renowned venues such as Ravinia, the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Boston's famed Jordan Hall and the Museum of Fine Arts; The Kitchen in New York City; the Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt; and the Holywell Music Room, the oldest custom-built concert hall in Europe. He has written works for a number of top musicians and ensembles including Ekmeles Vocal Ensemble, Proton Bern, Distractfold Ensemble, RAGE Thormbones, Splinter Reeds, Quince Vocal Ensemble, Line Upon Line Percussion, soprano Tony Arnold, and cellist Séverine Ballon. His recent work, A Dialogue, In Absentia for electronically augmented trombone duo, was presented at IRCAM's Music and Hacking conference. In 2018-2019 he wrote a new large-scale work for chamber orchestra with dual soprano soloists for Ensemble Dal Niente.
He completed his doctorate at Stanford University, studying with Brian Ferneyhough, Chris Chafe, and Jaroslaw Kapuscinski. Watts received his master's with distinction from Oxford University and his bachelor's with academic honors from the New England Conservatory. He has also studied composition and theory at the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University, as well as additional courses in literature and economics through IU's Hutton Honors College and Brown University. He researches the compositional applications of language desemanticization, focusing on the ability to convey expression through the voice even when specific meaning is lost, augmented, or otherwise unintelligible. His writing also actively explores musical extremes through gradients of freedom and restriction, ambiguity and detail, purity and distortion, along with sound and noise. Often, he includes invented instruments to broaden the palette of what a performer can do. The treatment of microtonality in his pitch language focuses on the evolution of material under tightly constrained circumstances. For the past few years, Watts has sought to create highly precise surface gestures to serve as the impetus in his music. These can be thought of as cells; whereby, when taken individually, he exercises a great degree of control over nuanced parameters, but when taken together the texture sounds more spontaneous.
Dr. Watts teaches a summer workshop entitled “Algorithmic Composition with Max/MSP and OpenMusic” at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). In 2018-2019 he was a fellow at the impuls International Composers Academy (Austria) and Rainy Days Festival (Luxembourg). In previous years he also participated as a featured composer at the MATA Festival (USA), Young Composers Meeting (Netherlands), Delian Academy (Greece), Cheltenham Music Festival (England), the 48th International Summer Course for New Music at Darmstadt (Germany), the Composit Festival (Italy), the Biennial Ostrava Days Institute (Czech Republic), the highSCORE Festival (Italy), the Wellesley Composers Conference (USA), the Etchings Festival (France), Fresh Inc. Festival (USA), New Music on the Point (USA), and the Atlantic Music Festival (USA). Furthermore, he has given guest lectures on his compositional practice at Harvard, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, CalArts, Ithaca College, and other leading music programs.