Augusta Read Thomas (born in 1964 in New York) is a Professor on the composition faculty at Northwestern University, and is on the Board of Directors of the American Music Center. She previously taught at the Eastman School of Music, and she is currently Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (through May 2006). At the age of 33, she received tenure from the Eastman School. Her work is currently published by G. Schirmer Inc., with whom she has recently signed. She studied at Northwestern University, Yale University and at the Royal Academy of Music. Seven years after graduating from the Royal Academy of Music, she was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music (ARAM, honorary degree). In 1998 she received the Distinguished Alumni Association Award from St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire. In 1999, she received the Award of Merit from the President of Northwestern University.
Conductors including Daniel Barenboim, Christoph Eschenbach, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mstislav Rostropovich, Pierre Boulez, Seiji Ozawa, Hans Vonk, Gerard Schwarz, Dennis Russell Davies, Donald Hunsberger, Hugh Wolff, Cliff Colnot, Norman Scribner, John Nelson, Apo Hsu, Jahja Ling, Keith Lockhart, Lawrence Leighton Smith, George Manahan, Jac Van Steen, Gianpiero Taverna, David Gilbert, Bradley Lubman, and Grant Llewellyn have programmed her work.
Ms. Thomas' chamber-opera Ligeia, (Librettist: Leslie Dunton-Downer, based on a short story by Poe) won the prestigious International Orpheus Prize (for which Luciano Berio was president of the jury) and was performed in Spoleto, Italy, with Luca Ronconi directing. Ligeia, commissioned by Mstislav Rostropovich and Rencontres Musicales d'Evian, was premiered by Maestro Rostropovich in the 1994 Evian Festival. The American Premiere took place at the Aspen Music Festival in Aspen, Colorado, in July of 1995. Leslie Dunton-Downer and Augusta Thomas are continuing their work on a new opera entitled Dreams in the Cave of Eros.
Augusta Read Thomas studied with Jacob Druckman at Yale University, and with Alan Stout and Bill Karlins at Northwestern University.