Bryce Dessner is a vital and rare force in new music. He has won Grammy Awards as a classical composer and with the band The National, of which he is founding member, guitarist, arranger and co-principal song-writer. He is commissioned to write for the world’s leading ensembles, from Orchestre de Paris to the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Meanwhile he is a high-profile presence in film score composition, with credits including Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant – for which he was Grammy and Golden Globe nominated as well as his latest music score for the triple Oscar-nominated The Two Popes (Netflix), released in November 2019 and featuring revered legendary actors Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce. The breadth and level of Dessner’s creative output is remarkable.
Dessner collaborates with some of today’s most creative and respected artists, including Philip Glass, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Paul Simon, Sufjan Stevens, Johnny Greenwood, Bon Iver, Kelley O’Connor, Nico Muhly and Steve Reich, who named Dessner “a major voice of his generation.” His orchestrations can be heard on the new albums of Paul Simon and Bon Iver. In 2015, Rafael Bonachela choreographed his work Frame of Mind to Dessner’s dramatic contemporary classical album Aheym recorded by Kronos Quartet. Frame of Mind went on to win four Helpmann Awards, has toured internationally and was performed live by the Australian String Quartet in Sydney Dance Company’s 2018 reprise of the work.
Bryce Dessner was named one of a collective of eight “extraordinary artists, thinkers and doers” to help steer the artistic leadership of Esa-Pekka Salonen as San Francisco Symphony Orchestra’s new Music Director from September 2020.
Recent major works include Concerto for Two Pianos for Katia and Marielle Labèque, premiered by London Philharmonic Orchestra and recorded for Deutsche Grammophon; Voy a Dormir for Kelley O’Connor and St. Luke’s Orchestra; Skrik Trio for Steve Reich and Carnegie Hall; the ballet No Tomorrow co-written with Ragnar Kjartansson; and Wires for Ensemble Intercontemporain. In 2019, Gautier Capuçon premiered a new work by Dessner commissioned by Fondation Louis Vuitton, and Los Angeles Philharmonic premiered Triptych (Eyes for One on Another), a major theatre piece integrating the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe. New York’s Metropolitan Museum featured a song by Dessner in one of its first contemporary installations.
Dessner’s albums include St. Carolyn by the Sea on Deutsche Grammophon; Aheym commissioned by Kronos Quartet; Tenebre performed by Ensemble Resonanz (2019); plus When we are inhuman by Dessner, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Eighth Blackbird (2019).
His new composition, Impermanence, commissioned by Sydney Dance Company and the Australian String Quartet for Rafael Bonachela’s homonymous work, will premiere in Sydney on 17 February 2021