Composer Andy Teirstein's work is inspired by the rich and diverse folk roots of modern culture. His music has been described by The New York Times and The Village Voice as "magical," "ingenious," and "superbly crafted."
A student of Leonard Bernstein, Henry Brant, Bruce Saylor and David Del Tredici, Teirstein writes music for the concert hall, film, theater, and dance. He is the recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the American Composers Forum, among others. Currently, he is Director of Translucent Borders, an exploration of the role of dance and music at borders.
Teirstein has composed several film scores, including "Men," for BBC and "Margaret Sanger," for PBS, and was a music consultant/composer for the critically acclaimed documentary series "The West," produced by Ken Burns and Insignia Films, which also aired on PBS.
A prolific writer for the theater, Teirstein has scored, arranged, and directed a number of musical theater pieces, including "A Blessing on the Moon," presented in concert at New York's Le Poisson Rouge Club and at the Chutzpah! Festival of Performing Arts in Vancouver; "Papushko," which won a Richard Rodgers Development Award; "Winter Man," recipient of two NEA Opera/Musical Theater Awards (1993,1991), which he scored, arranged, and co-wrote with Cheyenne poet Lance Henson and which was presented by La Mama Experimental Theater Company in February 1995, and "Skels," which also received an NEA Opera/Musical Theater Award in 1994. "The Wild," a music/theater/dance work written, composed, and directed by Teirstein, premiered at La Mama in June, 1996.
Teirstein's eclectic background, which includes acting, clown work, and performance art in addition to musical composition and performance, has led him to successful collaborations with a number of choreographers. These include Donald Byrd, Stephen Petronio, Phyllis Lamhut, Liz Lerman, Sara Pearson, Nina Wiener, Patricia Nanon, and Randy Warshaw. Teirstein performs as an Actor and Musician in the show, Woody Sez, with successful runs in London's West End, at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, the Edinburgh Festival, and in Germany and cities across the U.S . He is also a touring musician with the world music/dance troupe The Vanaver Caravan.
The Village Voice has said that Teirstein's music "seems to speak in celestial accents of some utopia whose chief industry is dancing."
His work has been heard at The Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Joyce Theater, Dance Theater Workshop, Lincoln Center, and P.S. 122, as well as abroad in France, Italy, Holland and Belgium.
Teirstein received a BA in music from Bennington College, where he studied composition with Henry Brant. In 1984 he received an MFA as a member of the first class of the New York University Musical Theater Program, where he studied with Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Laurents and others, and he received a Ph.D from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in 2010. As part of the fulfillment of that degree, he composed a viola concert, Maramures, inspired by songs and tunes he collected in the Carpathian mountains of Romania. His dissertation was entitled, Theater Without Words: Music for Movement Theater by Bartók and Milhaud. He has expanded his musical background and instrumental expertise by learning Irish fiddle tunes in the pubs of Ireland, performing as a musical clown with a Mexican circus, and journeying to the Balkans on an Artslink Fellowship to collect traditional music.
Teirstein's first orchestral work, Scarecrow, was performed by the Sage City Symphony. His CD Mannahatta, a collection of chamber works and music for dance, has been featured several times on National Public Radio's New Sounds program. His viola concerto, Maramures, was recorded by the Czech Radio Symphony in Prague with soloist Karen Dreyfus, ( Masterworks Recordings), and by soloist Danelle Farina with the Kiev Philharmonic Orchestra (Naxos of America). Andy's music was recently featured along with Meredith Monk and others on the CD The NYFA Collection: 25 Years of New York New Music.
Teirstein has received numerous grants, awards and honors, including Meet the Composer Choreographer/Composer Commissions; three NEA Opera/Musical Theater Awards; Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust Awards; two New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships; a MacDowell Fellowship; and numerous ASCAP awards. Most recently, he was selected for an opera composer fellowship with the American Lyric Theater. He is currently an Arts Professor at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts Teirstein's newest CD, Open Crossings was released by Naxos Records in August, 2009.