Emmy Award-‐winning composer Steve Heitzeg (b. 1959) is known for evocative and lyrical scores frequently including naturally-‐found instruments, such as stones, driftwood, Joshua Tree branches, manatee and Beluga whale bones, and sea glass. Heitzeg has written more than 150 works for orchestra, chorus, chamber ensemble, ballet and PBS films.
Heitzeg’s body of compositions address social and environmental issues with vision and compassion, including works such as Aqua, Blessed Are the Peacemakers, Blue Liberty, Ecology Symphony, Long Walk to Freedom, Nobel Symphony, Wild Songs and Wounded Fields.
Heitzeg’s music has been commissioned and performed by the Atlanta Symphony, Chanticleer, Chamber Music Society of Minnesota, Des Moines Symphony, Dale Warland Singers, James Sewell Ballet, Minnesota Orchestra, members of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, VocalEssence and Zeitgeist, among others. Marin Alsop, Philip Brunelle, William Eddins, JoAnn Falletta, Joseph Giunta, Giancarlo Guerrero, Osmo Vänskä and Dale Warland are among the conductors who have led his works.
Among his recent works is American Nomad, a trumpet concerto written for Charles Lazarus and premiered in 2015 by the Minnesota Orchestra that was described by the Star Tribune as “a rumination on the American spirit” that is “so good that one is led to predict it will be played by numerous orchestras across the country.” He wrote Symphony in Sculpture (2012) and Symphony in Sculpture II (2015), both premiered by Joseph Giunta and the Des Moines Symphony, to celebrate the Pappajohn Sculpture Park.
In 2008, Heitzeg’s Social Movements was premiered by James Sewell Ballet and his string quartet Song Without Borders by the Daedalus Quartet at the United Nations. Four months later, the work was performed by the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra String Quartet in Baghdad. In 2014 the Minnesota Orchestra and Minnesota Chorale premiered his Now We Start the Great Round.
Heitzeg attracted attention with his score for PBS’ A Marriage: Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz (starring Jane Alexander) in 1991 and for the award-‐winning children’s video On the Day You Were Born, released by the Minnesota Orchestra in 1996. His debut recording earthworks: music in honor of nature was released in 1998. In 2000, he received a regional Emmy for his score for documentary Death of the Dream: Farmhouses in the Heartland and was named “Composer of the Year” at the Minnesota Music Awards. The recipient of a McKnight Composer Fellowship, Heitzeg has also received grants from the American Composers Forum, Archibald Bush Foundation, Meet the Composer and the Jerome Foundation.