Through more than a hundred published works and many recordings, Bernard Rands is established as a major figure in contemporary music. His work Canti del Sole, premiered by Paul Sperry, Zubin Mehta, and the New York Philharmonic, won the 1984 Pulitzer Prize in Music. His large orchestral suites Le Tambourin won the 1986 Kennedy Center Friedheim Award.
Conductors including Barenboim, Boulez, Berio, Maazel, Maderna, Marriner, Mehta, Muti, Ozawa, Rilling, Salonen, Sawallisch, Schiff, Schuller, Schwarz, Silverstein, Sinopoli, Slatkin, von Dohnanyi, and Zinman, among many others, have programmed his music.
Rands served as Composer in Residence with the Philadelphia Orchestra for seven years. The first three years were funded by the Meet The Composer Residency Program, with four years continued funding by The Philadelphia Orchestra. Through this residency Rands made a wonderful and dedicated contribution to the music of our time.
Rands’ works are widely performed and frequently commercially recorded. His work Canti d’Amor, recorded by Chanticleer, won a Grammy Award in 2000.
Born in England, Rands emigrated to the United States in 1975, becoming an American citizen in 1983. He has been honored by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters; Broadcast Music, Inc.; the Guggenheim Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; Meet The Composer; the Barlow, Fromm, and Koussevitzky Foundations, among many others. In 2004, Rands was inducted to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Recent commissions have come from the Suntory Concert Hall in Tokyo, the New York Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Internationale Bach Akademie, the Eastman Wind Ensemble, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Many chamber works have resulted from commissions from major ensembles and festivals from around the world. His chamber opera, Belladonna, was commissioned by the Aspen Music Festival and School for its fiftieth anniversary in 1999.
Rands is currently composing a full-scale opera, Vincent, based on the life and work of Van Gogh, with poet J.D. McClatchy.
A dedicated and passionate teacher, Rands has been guest composer at many international festivals and Composer in Residence at the Aspen and Tanglewood festivals. Rands is the Walter Bigelow Rosen Research Professor of Music at Harvard. He has received honorary degrees from several American and European universities.
The originality and distinctive character of his music have been variously described as 'plangent lyricism' with a 'dramatic intensity' and a 'musicality and clarity of idea allied to a sophisticated and elegant technical mastery' – qualities developed from his studies with Dallapiccola and Berio.
Musical America has referred to Rands as "a composer with a poet’s sensibility and a painterly love of color and line."