Photo by Libby Rothfeld
“[on Wise Blood] somber and atmospheric, veering from unsettlingly clamorous to eerily serene. Though there are comic moments in the show, laughter dies quickly and may be replaced by tears; in its total effect, the piece is almost an American requiem.”
Brooklyn, New York native Anthony Gatto has developed a diverse body of music, often informed by literary and visual arts, exploring narrative modes and structures for opera, film, theater, and the concert hall. His cross-media works include the music and libretto for Wise Blood, after the novel Flannery O'Connor. Commissioned and produced by the Walker Art Center and The Soap Factory Exhibition Space, Wise Blood presents the shattered war veteran Hazel Motes preaching the Church Without Christ from the hood of his car. The immersive production featured second-line brass bands and singers moving through audiences, congregated in installations by Chris Larson referencing locations in the novel. Also commissioned by the Walker Art Center, The Making of Americans, based on the novel by Gertrude Stein, presents her spectacular, universalist language through personae that sketch three generations of American families.
Anthony studied music privately with Ornette Coleman in the 1980s, later founding The Festival Dancing in Your Head celebrating his ideas and influences. Since completing a doctorate in composition at the Yale School of Music, Anthony has composed works for film, theater, dance, opera and concert halls in the US, South America, Europe and Asia. His work has been presented by the Walker Art Center, Lincoln Center, Bang on a Can, M1 Singapore Festival, Staatsbank, Berlin, Tenri Cultural Center, Spectrum, Angel Orensanz Center, Egyptian Theater in LA, and many theaters throughout the US, music and film festivals including Bang on a Can Marathons, 15th Fantaspoa International Fantastic Film Festival, Porte Alegre, Brazil. Performers of his works include JACK Quartet, Mivos Quartet, Ethel String Quartet with guitarist Mark Stewart, Alarm Will Sound, Hutchins Consort, Iktus, Zeitgeist Ensemble, New Thread Sax Quartet, Minnesota Orchestra, and Minneapolis Guitar Quartet.
Family Heirloom, Anthony’s recent opera commissioned by Experiments in Opera, for six singers and chamber group, has a staged premiere at HERE Arts Center, NYC, June 28-30, 2024. Recent recording releases include Small Subversions, works for solo piano, recorded by Karl Larson, on Gold Bolus Recordings (2023), and two operas: The Making of Americans and Wise Blood, on New Focus Recordings (2020); Plastic Facts by New Thread Saxophone Quartet on New Focus Recordings (2019); klangfarbenmelodie (for Ornette Coleman), for alto saxophone and guitar, by Duo Montagnard (2021).
Anthony has received fellowships and awards from the Fulbright Foreign Scholar Program (Berlin, Germany), New York Foundation for the Arts, the Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Meet the Composer, Inc, ASCAP Grant to Young Composers; and several residency fellowships at Yaddo, The Millay Colony for the Arts, Aaron Copland House, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Willapa Bay Artist-in-Residence program. He is an Associate Professor of Music at City University of New York.