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Greg Bartholomew

Listen to "On the ground where we live"
from the CD: Masterworks of the New Era

One of my clearest childhood memories is the sense of joy and excitement I felt at summer band when I was eleven years old, taking my trombone every day on the city bus downtown to transfer to another part of Seattle where I spent all day, every day, immersed in music: singing in a choir for the first time, learning rudimentary music theory, and playing in the concert band. It was magical. When I was even younger, my sister had taught me to play piano, and before I entered high school I started writing songs as naturally as I painted, sang and wrote poems. My life has been rich in many forms of artistic expression, but music has always been the most rewarding when music works it touches me more deeply than any other medium. All forms of art address the loneliness of human existence, providing connection to the artist and assurance that we are not alone on this vast and bewildering planet, but for me music has the most power to reach us, to heal us, and to bring us together. This is why I have always considered the composer to be one of my key identities.

In my work, I have been inspired by the pop music of the 1960's, especially the literate singer-songwriters (Dylan, Cohen, and later Springsteen), the creators of the Broadway musicals (Richard Rogers, Frederick Loewe, Lionel Bart), the big orchestral composers (Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Barber), opera composers (Puccini, Britten, Daniel Catn) and innumerous choral composers (Monteverdi, Gesualdo, Britten, William Hawley, Morten Lauridsen). Of these, the biggest influence has probably been Leonard Bernstein, who not only composed in a wide variety of genres, but was also a brilliant conductor and articulate speaker his Harvard lectures call me back time and again.

Having spent my young adulthood focused primarily on earning a living (with a "job," not a "career"), I have been fortunate to be able to devote an increasing amount of my time over the past fifteen years to music, and I now compose full time. I am immensely grateful that we have emerged from the bleak dark ages of the mid-twentieth-century, when music with any beauty or dramatic arc was sneered upon as dated and without merit. The greatest challenge I face in my creative process is to make something new and interesting while giving the work a coherent shape and emotional resonance. The greatest gratification I feel from performances of my work is when listeners tell me that my music has touched their hearts.


Greg Bartholomew's music is frequently performed across the United States and in Canada, Australia and Europe by such highly regarded instrumental ensembles as Third Angle New Music Ensemble, the Alaska Brass, and the Aeolian Winds of Pittsburgh, as well as such acclaimed choral ensembles as Seattle Pro Musica, the Oratorio Society of Minnesota, Connecticut Choral Artists (CONCORA) and Austin Vocal Arts.

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1957, Bartholomew earned degrees from the College of William & Mary and the University of Washington. His music is published by ARS NOVA PRESS, ART OF SOUND MUSIC, ORPHEUS MUSIC and BURKE & BAGLEY.

Tom Manoff, classical music reviewer for National Public Radio, wrote:

Greg Bartholomew, a fine composer not afraid of accessibility, set Walt Whitman's To a Locomotive in Winter in a sturdy, lyrical style. Tuneful and diatonic, the music seemed appropriately Whitman-esque.

Awards and prizes

  • First Place in the 2006 Orpheus Music Composition Competition for Beneath the Apple Tree for viola da gamba and recorder.

  • Masterworks Prize from ERM Media for On the Ground Where We Live in 2006.

  • Masterworks Prize in 2005 for the First Suite from Razumov.

  • Finalist in the 2007 Cincinnati Camerata Composition Competition for Leo, an a cappella choral work commissioned by the Esoterics.

  • Commendation in the 2007 Heritage Singers Composers Competition for From the Odes of Solomon.

  • Finalist in the inaugural New Choral Music Competition at Briar Cliff University (2003) for The 21st Century (A Girl Born in Afghanistan).

  • The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Standard Award in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 & 2008.

Commercial recordings

  • Commissioned by the Oregon Bach Festival Composer's Symposium in commemoration of George Crumbs 75th birthday, the String Trio for George Crumb is available on the Langroise Trios CD Volante. MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL says, "You will enjoy this work immensely and want to hear more by this "youthful" (50 years old!) composer."

  • On the Ground Where We Live, for full orchestra, was recorded by the Czech Philharmonic for the Masterworks of the New Era CD series (volume ten). Musician Jose Varela of Madrid, Spain, writes: "On the Ground Where We Live is a real classic with wonderful melodies and masterly composition."

  • The First Suite from Razumov for clarinet and string quartet, recorded by members of the Kiev Philharmonic, has been released on the Masterworks of the New Era CD series (volume six). James Maclean says on The Suite "manages to capture the complexity of the setting in a way that is fresh, portraying a sense of sorrow and, at the end of each movement, a soaring sense of hope that is somehow fitting and certainly fulfilling."

  • Bartholomew's choral setting of excerpts from Kofi Annan's Nobel Peace Prize Lecture, The 21st Century (A Girl Born in Afghanistan), is available on CD from Connecticut Choral Artists (CONCORA).

  • The Ars Brunensis Chorus recording of Bartholomew's three choral settings From the Odes of Solomon is available from Capstone Records.

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