Nathan Shields’s music has been praised for its “elusive luminance” (Washington Post). The New York Times’s Anthony Tommasini called Commedia, at Tanglewood’s 2019 Festival of Contemporary Music, “the affecting work on the program…alternately kinetic and reflective.” A 2022 Guggenheim Fellow, Shields’s works have been commissioned by Tanglewood, the Mendelssohn-Orchesterakademie of the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Fromm Foundation, JACK Quartet, New York New Music Ensemble, BMI, Concert Artists’ Guild, and Greenwood Music Camp, and by soloists Bridget Kibbey, Jay Campbell, and Michael Brown. Other performances include the Jupiter String Quartet, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, Mendelssohn Academy Orchestra, New Fromm Players, Charlottesville Symphony, Chamber Music Northwest, Metropolis Ensemble, Music from Copland House, Decoda, and the Horszowski Trio. He’s currently working on Medusa, a new work for the Jupiter Quartet.
Shields has received the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Aaron Copland Award, Presser Music Award, BMI and ASCAP awards, Juillard’s Richard F. French Doctoral Prize, and fellowships from Tanglewood, Yaddo, Copland House, Ucross, Brush Creek, the Wellesley Composers Conference, and the Japan Society of Boston. His writing has been published in the Baffler, Mosaic, Commentary, Perspectives of New Music, and elsewhere.
Shields is associate faculty at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, and previously taught at Juilliard and St. Olaf College. He received his doctorate and masters from Juilliard and his bachelors from New England Conservatory of Music, studying with Milton Babbitt, Samuel Adler, Lee Hyla, and David Rakowski. He has attended summer festivals and other programs including the Tanglewood Music Center, Bowdoin International Music Festival, Freie Universität Berlin, EAMA, Copland House CULTIVATE Institute, and June in Buffalo, participating in lessons and masterclasses with Michael Gandolfi, John Harbison, Hans Abrahamsen, Derek Bermel, Julian Anderson, Augusta Read Thomas, Robert Beaser, and others.