Kevin Puts – Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University
Eight years ago, Kevin Puts won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for his opera Silent Night. Since then, he has continued to be among the most in-demand composers today.
His most famous works are large-scale in structure, including his opera as well as his symphonies and concerti.
In his younger years, Kevin Puts was among the most decorated student composers, winning multiple BMI and ASCAP Student composer awards. Today, he is among America’s most important living composers.
Recommended Listening: His Symphony No. 2 is an excellent orchestral work.
Bright Sheng – University of Michigan School of Music
Like Chen Yi, Bright Sheng represents a composer famous for his crossover of two disparate genres – Chinese Folk and Contemporary Western Classical Music.
In the 90s, Bright Sheng was one of the nation’s most popular composers, with work programmed by nearly every major orchestra in the country.
Today, he maintains a small studio of young composers in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan.
Recommended Listening: His 1991 Four Movements for Piano Trio was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist and is a masterpiece of modern chamber music repertoire.
Morten Lauridsen – University of Southern California Thornton School of Music
Forty years at a school is a long time, which is about the length of Morten Lauridsen’s tenure at USC Thornton School of Music, one of the nation’s most eminent music schools.
Lauridsen is best known for his contemporary choral music repertoire that has been performed by thousands of choirs across the world. Alongside Eric Whitacre, he is one of the most popular choral music composers of our time.
His music is characterized by simple, triadic harmonies usually arranged for a cappella choirs.
Recommended Listening: One of his most well-known works is his setting of O Magnum Mysterium for Choir.
Missy Mazzoli – Mannes College of Music
The youngest composer on this list, Missy’s addition to the Mannes faculty is recent – within the last 5 years.
Missy’s music is unlike that of other composers in academia; her work, although labeled as contemporary classical, is very much influenced by popular, electronic, and minimalist styles.
Some of her music was featured in the popular Amazon series Mozart In the Jungle.
Recommended Listening: Check out her album with her own group Victoire Vespers for a New Dark Age.