Peabody raised a champagne toast to Christopher
Theofanidis when he returned in triumph from London last
week. The composition faculty member's orchestral work
Rainbow Body had just won the world's largest
competition for new music, the Masterprize Competition. The
finals were held at the Barbican Center on Oct. 30, with
the London Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Daniel
Harding performing the works of the six finalists. The win
carries a cash award of 25,000 British pounds (about
The Masterprize Competition is unusual in that the
audience participates in the voting the night of the
finals, and 45 percent of the vote is determined in advance
by the readers of Gramophone and Classic FM
magazines, which have a total circulation of more than
100,000. These magazines made recordings of the works
available on their Web sites, as did the Masterprize Web
"It's a bit like the Oscars," Theofanidis said. "The
night of the finals, colored slips were distributed to the
audience with the names of the works. At the end, the emcee
opened an envelope on stage and said, 'And the winner is...
American audiences will have a chance to hear the
winning work on NPR's Performance Today program today, Nov.
10. Rainbow Body also has been recorded on the Telarc label
with the Atlanta Symphony, conducted by Robert Spano. It
was commissioned by "Meet the Composer" and the Houston
Symphony Orchestra in Theofanidis' home state. Rainbow Body
was performed at
Peabody in 2002, conducted by Robert Sirota.
Christopher Theofanidis, at only 35 years of age, has
had works performed by major ensembles on both sides of the
Atlantic. Earlier this year, the American Ballet Theatre
gave the first performance of his ballet Artemis at the
Metropolitan Opera in New York and will perform it again in
May/June 2004. His Viola Concerto was first heard this
summer at the Kronberg Academy in Frankfurt, with
Theofanidis conducting the Moscow Soloists and Peabody
alumna Kim Kashkashian as soloist.
Winning the Masterprize Competition is likely to
prompt a number of new performances and commissions. "I
have already been approached by an orchestra in Paris and
one in Beirut," Theofanidis said. "Rainbow Body also is
being performed again by a British youth orchestra on its
Theofanidis, who joined the faculty in September 2002,
will be composing a fanfare for Peabody's April 2004 Grand
Reopening Festival, which celebrates the end of the current
$26.8 million construction project.
Of Greek ethnic origin, Theofanidis said much of his
music takes its inspiration from Greek mythology and
history and is influenced by Greek modal harmonies.
The Masterprize Competition is only the latest in the
composer's many awards and honors, including a Fulbright
Fellowship, the Rome Prize and Composer-in-Residence at the
California Symphony in San Francisco.