Alex Burtzos is an American composer and conductor based in New York City and Orlando, FL. His music has been performed across four continents by some of the world's foremost contemporary musicians and ensembles, including JACK Quartet, Yarn/Wire, loadbang, Contemporaneous, ETHEL, Jenny Lin, RighteousGIRLS, Decoda, and many others. Alex is the founder and artistic director of ICEBERG New Music, a New York-based composers' collective, and conductor of the hip-hop/classical chamber orchestra ShoutHouse.
As a composer, Alex is committed to pursuing artistic expression unconstrained by boundaries of school or style. His work often incorporates elements of the 20th Century avant-garde, jazz, rock, metal, and hip-hop alongside or against classical/preclassical structures and sounds, justifying these juxtapositions with a great depth of musical ideas and extra-musical knowledge. Alex’s music takes as its basis and provides commentary on a diverse array of subject matter, from early colonial history to recent events, from Shakespeare’s tragedies to naughty text messages. His unique approach has earned him accolades and awards from organizations around the world.
As Artistic Director of ICEBERG New Music, Alex leads one of the most adventurous and dynamic composers’ collectives active today. Since 2016, the ten members of ICEBERG have produced concerts and delivered lectures across North America and engaged in educational outreach in schools in New York and Tennessee. ICEBERG’s debut album, with Pianist Jenny Lin, has been praised by Gramophone and I Care If You Listen. ICEBERG also awards scholarships to young composers from under-represented backgrounds and, in 2020, debuted a Summer composition Institute in Vienna, Austria. Learn more here.
Alex exclusively conducts contemporary repertoire, and has given over 40 world and regional premieres by emerging and established composers. As conductor of ShoutHouse, he blends elements of jazz and classical conducting styles to cultivate a unified, engaging sound that's "incomparable to anything existing." Watch a video here.
Alex holds a DMA from Manhattan School of Music, where his primary teachers were Reiko Fueting and Mark Stambaugh. He is the Endowed Chair of Composition Studies at the University of Central Florida, where he teaches composition, orchestration, film scoring, video game scoring, and music technology. His music is published by Just a Theory Press, NewMusicShelf, and others.
“[T]he whimsical scales and ambidextrous back-and-forth of Alex Burtzos’s… Should the Wide World Roll Away makes for an odd, yet ultimately convincing lead-in to Chopin’s bravura Op 10 No 4 Étude.”
- Jed Distler, Gramophone (Article)
“Excellent project with some fantastic playing by Cicchillitti & Cowan. Great orchestration in the composition by Burtzos. Despite all the amazing electronics, devices, and coding involved, the guitar comes out very nicely and interacts well with media part.”
- Bradford Werner, This Is Classical Guitar (Article)
“The Hourglass Equation is Burtzos’s second new piece for Aston Magna, and the third world premiere that the festival has sponsored. It’s based on a poem that the composer wrote a few years ago. Burtzos, who also writes fiction and makes visual art, doesn’t see clear-cut boundaries between his disciplines.”
- Zoë Madonna, Boston Globe (Article)
“Alex Burtzos’ Perforation gives [the album] some of its most accessible, traditionally tonal moments, as the rhythmic chord clusters are followed by more flowery, sustained passages. Goldberg-Baldwin’s execution of this utterly captivating composition speaks volumes about her ability to work within various modern compositional styles.”
- Chris Ingalls, PopMatters (Article)
“Alex Burtzos’s mini-cycle Sky, for soprano and baritone, evocatively set three poems by Nathan Kernan: Blumberg soared in long lines over Wenaus’s burbling piano in ‘Joie de Vivre’; a metaphorical train clacked in the piano as Blumberg and Asselin traded lines in ‘Urn Burial’; and the singers described an enigmatic encounter with a poet in ‘Sky.’”
- David Wright, New York Classical Review (Article)
“Burtzos’s rather free-tonal Perforations (2018) is the most lyrical work here, making a nice contrast to Carrick’s spikier Miniatures.”
- Guy Rickards, Gramophone (Article)
“The premiere was The Hourglass Equation, the second work commissioned for Aston Magna from Alex Burtzos, 32. It is expressly scored for baroque violin, flute, bassoon and harpsichord. And you know what? Its unmistakable 2018 tripping, including bits of jazz, rock and who knows what else, sounded utterly natural and clever in this medium.”
- Andrew Pincus, Bennington Banner (Article)
“Then… came the work of Alex Burtzos, called pOwer trIo for piano, saxophone, and percussion. I liked this music very much, giving it in my mind the first prize among all the other works, as it appeared well-rooted in a broader field of jazz-related productions.”
- Giorgio Koukl, EarRelevant (Article)
“Sonata/Sonare, hyperkinetic, owed little besides instrumentation to its forebears (sonare: to sound). The movements were marked "Finding," "Losing" and "Searching," but on first hearing it was hard to track a progression of moods or ideas. The manic energy of rock was not difficult to find. The fast outer movements, with the harpsichord pinging away motorically on a different track from the alternately swooping, plucked strings, barreled along like a car doing 90 over a rough road, slowing only for a curve in ‘Losing.’ …The rhythmic complexity seemed to defy performance, but performed the music was, feverishly. The audience gave it an enthusiastic ovation.”
- Andrew Pincus, Berkshire Eagle (Article)
“Football in Marja, written in 2011, is a musical portrait of Marja, a town in Afghanistan. The “football” is, of course, soccer, and is represented musically by hyper-energetic tritone motifs. The difficulties of everyday life are depicted with cluster chords. Ms. Suehiro championed this work with passionate commitment. With driving energy in the motoric sections, cascades of jagged clusters, and the final blast of sound, it was riveting from start to finish.”
- Jeffrey Williams, NY Concert Review (Article)
“Happily, the album closes with an excellent etude by Alex Burtzos, Should the Wide World Roll Away, followed in turn by one of Chopin’s better pieces, the étude Op. 10 No. 4.”
- Lynn René Bayley, Art Music Lounge (Article)
“Curious listeners will be in luck next week, when Crosstown Arts once again sponsors a brief residency for ICEBERG composers, with a concert and two composers' discussions. The beauty of New Music for the inquisitive fan is that it serves the curiosities of many kinds of listeners. As Burtzos says, ‘What's happening in music right now, and what ICEBERG is striving to embrace, is a greater democratization of style. There is no dogma anymore. The wide variety of media has enabled us as listeners to pick and choose, regardless of school or style.’”
- Alex Greene, Memphis Flyer (Article)
“Burtzos led the audience through the concert with charm, irony, and insight… I went home after the concert feeling happy and intellectually sated.”
- Stephanie Ann Boyd, I Care if You Listen (Article)
“…Ziss returned to the stage to share the story of the traumatic injury that derailed her dance career; composer Alex Burtzos joined her at the piano to help perform his appropriately painful pizzicato-heavy score.”
- Seth Kubersky, Orlando Weekly (Article)