Tobias Picker (b. New York City, 1954), called “our finest composer for the lyric stage” by The Wall Street Journal and “a genuine creator with a fertile unforced vein of invention” by The New Yorker, has drawn performances and commissions by the world’s leading musicians, orchestras and opera houses.
Picker’s operas have been commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera, (Emmeline), The LA Opera, (Fantastic Mr. Fox), The Dallas Opera, (Thérèse Raquin), San Francisco Opera (Dolores Claiborne), and The Metropolitan Opera (An American Tragedy). His operas have gone on to be produced by New York City Opera, San Diego Opera, L’Opera de Montreal, Chicago Opera Theater, Covent Garden, Opera Holland Park, English Touring Opera, the Glimmerglass Festival, and many other distinguished companies. In 2015, Opera Theatre of St. Louis mounted a major new production of Picker’s Emmeline, that garnered universal acclaim as “a work of gripping emotional intensity and extraordinary musical expressivity” (The Dallas Morning News) — “one of the best operas written in the past 25 years” (The Wall Street Journal) and “the greatest American opera of the 20th century” (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
In addition, Picker has composed numerous symphonic works, commissioned and performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, L’Orchestre de Paris, Munich Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Opéra de Montréal, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Vienna RSO, and Zurich Tonahalle among others. In addition to three symphonies, he has composed concertos for violin, viola, cello, oboe, and four piano concertos. His recent ballet, Awakenings, based on the book by Oliver Sacks, was commissioned by the Rambert Dance Company, which toured the work throughout the UK, performing it 80 times with live orchestra.
The extensive Picker discography includes such labels as Nonesuch, Sony Classics, Virgin Classics, Angel, Chandos, Ondine, and Albany Records. Most recently, Wergo and Tzadik have devoted complete albums to Picker’s chamber music spanning the years 1976 to 2011.
Mr. Picker has received numerous prestigious awards and prizes and was elected to lifetime membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2012. Picker served as the first composer-in-residence of the Houston Symphony from 1985-1990 and has served as composer-in-residence for the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and the Pacific Music Festival. In 2010, Mr. Picker founded Opera San Antonio and served as its Artistic Director until 2015. Since 2015, Picker serves as Artistic Consultant to the New York City Opera and was appointed Artistic Director of Tulsa Opera on June 1, 2016. His music is published exclusively by Schott Helicon Music Corporation.