Felipe Lara (b.1979) is hailed as a gifted Brazilian-American modernist by the New York Times, with his works being described as sensational, exuberant, vivid, brilliantly realized, excellent, technically formidable, wildly varied, and possessing voluptuous, elemental lyricism. He is known for creating unique musical contexts by reinterpreting and translating acoustical and extra-musical properties of familiar source sonorities into project-specific forces. His compositions aim to establish self-similar relationships between the macro and micro-articulation of the musical experience.
Lara has garnered numerous commissions from prestigious soloists, ensembles, and institutions, including the Arditti Quartet (with ExperimentalStudio Freiburg SWR), Brentano Quartet, Claire Chase, Conrad Tao, Donaueschinger Musiktage, Ensemble InterContemporain, Ensemble Modern, Helsinki Philharmonic, International Contemporary Ensemble, loadbang, Los Angeles Philharmonic, São Paulo Symphony, and Talea Ensemble. His works have been performed by acclaimed musicians and orchestras like the Ensemble Recherche, esperanza spalding, JACK Quartet, Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin, Mivos Quartet, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Hilversum, New York Philharmonic, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, and conductors David Fulmer, Dirk Kaftan, Ilan Volkov, James Baker, Peter Eötvös, Neil Thomson, Susanna Mälkki, Steven Schick, Thomas Adès, and Vimbayi Kaziboni.
His compositions have been featured in prestigious venues and festivals worldwide, including the Aspen Music Festival, Centre Acanthes, Acht Brücken, Aldeburgh Music Festival, Ars Musica, The Art Institute of Chicago, Aspekte Salzburg Festival, Bang on a Can Summer Festival, Berliner Festspiele’s MaerzMusik, Budapest Music Center, Burning Man, Centre Acanthes, Carnegie Hall, Darmstadt, David Geffen Hall, Domaine Forget, Donaueschinger Musiktage, Europalia, Festival de Cinema de Gramado, Fromm Players at Harvard, Heidelberger Frühling, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, June-in-Buffalo, King’s Place, The Kitchen, Luxembourg Philharmonie, Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, Miller Theatre Composer Portraits, Musikfest Frankfurt, New York Philharmonic Biennial, Philharmonie de Paris, Philip Glass Days and Nights Festival, Phillips Collection, Roulette, Sala São Paulo, Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, Tanglewood, Teatro Amazonas, Teatro La Fenice, TimeSpans Festival, and Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Lara’s accomplishments include a 2015 Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellowship from Harvard University. He has received several prestigious honors, such as the Nexus (2023) and Catalyst (2021) Awards from Johns Hopkins University, Prêmio Concerto (São Paulo, 2021), New Jersey Council for the Arts Fellowship (2020), an invitational fellowship from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation (2014), composition prize from Funarte (Brazilian Ministry of Culture, 2014), Master Artist Award from the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (2013), and the Staubach Prize (Darmstadt, 2008). He has also been commissioned by the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung (2022), Chamber Music America (2021), Koussevitzky Music Foundation at Library of Congress (2016), and Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University (2011). In 2014, he was a finalist for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.
Currently, Felipe Lara serves as Associate Professor and Chair of the Composition Department at the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University. He has previously held teaching positions at Boston Conservatory at Berklee and the Faculty of Arts and Science at New York University. He has also served as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago and Visiting Lecturer at Harvard’s Department of Music, where he was recognized with two Harvard Excellence in Teaching Awards (2017, 2019). Additionally, he has been a faculty member at New Music on the Point, Banff Evolution Quartet, and Valencia International Performance Academy (VIPA). He has been invited to present lectures on his music in dozens of peer institutions, including Berklee College of Music, Brandeis, Boston University, Harvard, New York University, Northwestern, Princeton, Sibelius Academy, Stanford, UC San Diego, University of Chicago, and University of Southern California. He holds a PhD in Music Composition from New York University (Graduate School of Arts and Science), where he was a distinguished Henry M. MacCracken Fellow, a Master’s of Music from Tufts University, and a Bachelor’s degree from Berklee College of Music.
One of Lara’s notable works is the Double Concerto for esperanza spalding, Claire Chase, and large symphony orchestra, which was recently praised by the Financial Times as “one of the freshest 21st-century works one has heard.” Zachary Woolfe of the New York Times described it as “a complex yet legible, lovable piece; a funky yet elegant ritual; thrilling and taut, if also fundamentally unhurried and unpressured. Spalding performed in a jumpsuit printed, in bold capital letters, with LIFE FORCE, and I felt that way about the music, too.”