Jonathan Bailey Holland

Jonathan Bailey Holland (b. 1974), a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music (BM) and Harvard University (PhD), currently serves as the Chair of Composition, Contemporary Music, and Core Studies at Boston Conservatory at Berklee.

Photo of Holland by Robert Torres via

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    Jonathan Bailey Holland was born in Flint, Michigan in 1974. He attended the Interlochen Arts Academy where he first began studying composition. Upon graduating from Interlochen, Holland entered the Bachelor of Music program at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied composition under Ned Rorem. In 2000, he received a Ph.D. in Music from Harvard University, where he studied with Bernard Rands, Mario Davidovsky, Andrew Imbrie, and Yehudi Wyner. 

    Holland is a two-time winner of the Indianapolis Symphony’s Marian K. Flick Young Composer’s Showcase in 1997 and 1999. He also received the prestigious Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1995. He has won multiple other awards in composition from ASCAP, Harvard University, Boston Conservatory, and Austin Peay State University. In 2015, he was a recipient of a Fromm Foundation Commission from Harvard University. In 2019, he was granted a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship. Most recently, Holland was a winner of the 2021 Live Arts Boston award from the Boston Foundation.

    Holland’s compositional voice has also contributed greatly to the way in which the performing arts is used as a medium for social change and racial justice. In 2003, his work Halcyon Sun was commissioned to celebrate the opening of the Freedom Center National Underground Railroad Museum. His work Synchrony, written for violin, cello, oboe, bassoon, and piano, was commissioned by the Radius Ensemble and underlines the struggles of Black America under police brutality and systemic oppression, specifically during the nation’s first Black presidency. Currently, he is composing a new opera that endeavors to illustrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his journey to the national spotlight in the 1950s and 60s. The opera is commissioned by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project.

    Holland’s significant compositional output is frequently displayed by some of the world’s leading orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Detroit Symphony. In recent seasons, his works including The Party Starter, Sonata Variation, Shards of Serenity, The Clarity of Cold Air, and His House is Not of this Land have been commissioned, premiered, and/or performed by some of America’s most prestigious orchestras, chamber ensembles, and concert artists. He has collaborated with conductors such as Leonard Slatkin, Robert Spano, Paavo Järvi, and Louis Langrée among others. In 2019, Holland worked as the Classical Roots Composer-in-Residence at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

    As a music educator, several of Holland’s compositions are tailored towards educational and youth concerts. He is an active lecturer and presenter across the nation’s public schools and institutions, and has collaborated with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra in the development of their youth concert programs. Other educational collaborations include commissions by the Baltimore Symphony and the Volunteer Association of the Minnesota Orchestra.

    Jonathan Bailey Holland joined the faculty at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee in 2014, where he currently serves as the Chair of Composition, Contemporary Music, and Core Studies. 

    Helen Bryant

    This profile was created in 2022 as part of the Song of America Fellowship Program, a project of the Classic Song Research Initiative between the Hampsong Foundation and the University of Michigan, School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.


    Further Reading: 

    -“Jonathan Bailey Holland”. 2022. Jonathan Bailey Holland.

    -McFarland Flint, Jennifer. 2022. “A Composed Response”. Harvardmagazine.Com.


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