photo Karen Pearson

photo Karen Pearson

GILDA LYONS, (b. 1975), composer, vocalist, and visual artist, combines elements of renaissance, neo-baroque, spectral, folk, agitprop Music Theater, and extended vocalism to create works of uncompromising emotional honesty and melodic beauty. 

The premiere of A New Kind of Fallout—Lyons’ mainstage opera inspired by the life and work of environmentalist Rachel Carson, written with librettist Tammy Ryan, and commissioned by Opera Theater of Pittsburgh—was described as “powerfully effective” (Pittsburgh Stage Magazine), “haunting” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) and “spot-on at re-creating the atmosphere of the early '60s” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review).

As composer and vocalist Lyons’ works and performances are available on the Clarion, GPR, Naxos, New Dynamic, New Focus, and Roven Records labels. Current recording projects as composer include spring 2018 releases of Lyons’ works by Quince (Motherland) and entelechron (The Folk Tune Project). Gilda Lyons’ fall 2017 vocal collaboration with Laura Ward was released on the Naxos label on Lyric Fest’s all-Hagen CD 21st Century Song CyclesOpera News writes of Lyons’ “winning delivery, full of character.” Other recent recording projects include Lindsey Goodman's tour de force performance of Lyons' Chrysalis (reach through the sky) and Sing for Hope’s release of Lyons' Hold On (An AIDS Quilt Songbook). 

Lyons serves on the Board of Advisors of Composers Now and teaches composition at The Hartt School, University of Hartford, CT, and Wintergreen Summer Music Academy, VA. She is Artistic and Executive Director of The Phoenix Concerts, New York's "intrepid" and "plucky Upper West Side new-music series" (The New Yorker). Composer-in-Residencies include Connecticut Summerfest, New Music on the Point, Seasons Music Festival in Washington State, and Hartford Women Composers Festival.

Premieres in Ann Arbor, Beijing, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Seattle, Tokyo and beyond include: Summoning Fire (Panic Duo, Los Angeles); Alice Awakens (Wintergreen Festival Orchestra, Erin Freeman, conductor / Foot in the Door Ensemble, Edward Cumming, conductor / University of Pittsburgh Orchestra, Roger Zahab, conductor); Alignment Failed (Blythe Gaissert & Louis Levitt, New York City / Gilda Lyons & Robert Black, Hartford, CT); Scales and Tales (Mirror Visions Ensemble: Musée des arts Decoratifs, Paris / Performing Arts Library of Lincoln Center, New York City / Kerrytown Concert House, Ann Arbor, MI); walk, run, fly for pre-recorded sound & voice (Lyons, Flea Theater, New York City); Lady Beetle for koto (Yumi Kurosawa, Tokyo); La Novia de Tola (Beijing New Music Ensemble, Beijing / Finisterra Trio, Seattle / entelechron, New York City); Invocations for shakuhachi & voice (Kyo-Shin-An Arts, New York City); and rapid transit (5 Borough Music Festival, New York City, available on iTunes and GPR Records).

Her music is hair-raising, yet elegant [with] slides, dips, yips and yelps amid ceremonial intensity.
— Tom Strini, Milwaukee Journal Sentinal
It’s fresh and fun and sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard before.
— Gregory Berg, Journal of Singing

Commissions include works for The ASCAP Foundation / Charles Kingsford Fund, American Opera Projects, Amy Pivar Dances, Beijing New Music Ensemble, Carrie Koffman, ComposersCollaborative Inc., Lara Downes, Lyric Fest, entelechron, Fort Greene Park Conservancy, Yumi Korosawa, Kyo-Shin-An Arts, Mirror Visions Ensemble, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Panic Duo, Paul Sperry, Quince, Seraphim, Sweet Plantain String Quartet, The Walt Whitman Project, Wintergreen Summer Music Academy, and 5 Borough Music Festival, among many others.  

Lyons’ command of varied musical textures is masterly.
— Mark Kanny, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

An active vocalist and fierce advocate of contemporary music, Lyons has commissioned, premiered, and workshopped new vocal works by dozens of composers. Of her performance in Daron Hagen's Shining Brow (Buffalo Philharmonic/Falletta) (Naxos) David Shengold of Opera, UK writes "Gilda Lyons's clear soprano compels admiration."

Lyons’ music is published by Schott, E.C. Schirmer, and Burning Sled. She received her Ph.D. in Music Composition from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and Bard College. Lyons made her professional debut as composer and vocalist with the American Symphony Chamber Orchestra in 1997, performing the world premiere of her orchestral song cycle Feis.