Chamber Orchestra of New York,'Mountain Suite',  by Ezra Donner
Chamber Orchestra of New York, Salvatore Di Vittorio, Music Director & Conductor, ‘Mountain Suite’, (World Premiere), by Ezra Donner, winner The Respighi Prize 2012 Composition

Described as “energetic and good humored” (The Big City), “fun and uplifting” (Betsy’s View), and “dramatic” (Artsong Update), the music of Ezra Donner (b. 1986) has been performed in New York’s Carnegie Hall and throughout the world by ensembles including The Chamber Orchestra of New York, Pittsburgh Camerata, and Akropolis Quintet.  Awards and recognition have come from The American Prize Competition, the Respighi Prize Competition, and the Music Teachers’ National Association, the Boston New Music Initiative, the Midwest Graduate Music Consortium, ClefWorks, and the Tobenski-Algera Concert Series.

Ezra studied composition at the University of Michigan and Indiana University, earning his Doctor of Music Degree in 2015. He is also an alumnus of Interlochen Arts Camp, the John Duffy Institute for New Opera, and Brevard Music Center. His teachers have included Claude Baker, Don Freund, P.Q. Phan, Christopher Harding, Michael Colgrass, Bright Sheng, and William Bolcom.

Reviews of Ezra’s compositions:

“The score is Italian verismo, updated and made American through language, O’Neill’s inescapably stark New England and composer Donner’s own gift at establishing mood and tone. The music strongly hints of Puccini and his disciples. It draws one in, being melodic, lushly orchestrated and dramatic, eminently suited to O’Neill’s tragic material.”
Herald Times Online

The final work was the most dramatic: Ezra Donner’s operatic adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s Ile, about a ship and crew at sea for two years searching for a full cargo of whale oil. The impressive Kenneth Weber was the obsessed Captain Keeney, who puts down a mutiny (“I’m the law on this ship!”) by crewmen who want to turn the ship for home. As his wife, Signe Mortensen brought out the intense loneliness of a woman on a ship, hungry for the sound of a woman’s voice; she begged her husband to turn around or she’ll go mad. He promised to — and then reneged. She snapped, laughing crazily and, on the organ he brought aboard for her comfort, playing an insane mishmash of hymn tunes — including a brief snatch of the hymn tune known as the Navy Hymn — “for those in peril on the sea.” Both Weber and Mortensen had the power and skill to make every word count.
from a review by M.D. Ridge in Artsong Update, June 2012

The standout pieces on the program were two works by Donner….His Sonata No. 1 for Piano and Sonata Judaica for clarinet and piano performed the vital action of setting their own premises and then attacking them a little bit. The duo was energetic and good humored, incorporating the flavor of Jewish melodies into Modernist structures with just enough touches of popular culture and craziness to also try and break out of them. It offered…a very open-hearted and human approach to music making. The piano sonata, played by Donner, was an exciting, impressive work…tossing off interesting, jazzy and often intensely energetic phrases, abandoning them and bringing them back just at the moment one thinks he’s forgotten about them.  It seems random but is actually continuous. The material is dense but the writing is always clear, even in the inner voices.
from a review by George Grella in The Big City, March 10, 2010

To inquire about obtaining scores, please use the Contact page.

Ezra’s list of works:

Opera | Orchestra | Wind Band | Choral | Solo Voice and Instruments  | Chamber Music


Ile (2013)
a sung drama in one act based on the play by Eugene O’Neill

produced by Thompson Street Opera Company

The story of an obsessed sea captain on an 1890’s whaling ship, and his relentless pursuit of the thing he holds most dear.

Antigone (2010)
a sung drama in one act based on the tragedy by Sophocles

produced by Thompson Street Opera Company

An ancient story of gender, civil disobedience, and family ties.


Mountain Suite (2011)
for string orchestra

studio recording by the Budapest Chamber Orchestra
Peter Pejtsik, conductor

Rustic and lively music for strings blending the lyricism of Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances with the traditional music of Appalachia.

Cosmos (2012)
for orchestra

Reading session by the Indiana University Symphony

A musical journey through the history of the Universe, combining contemporary techniques with the drama of the Romantic period.

Symphonic Idyll (2006)
for orchestra

Performed by the University of Michigan University Symphony Orchestra

Heroic, yet tender melodic writing with open string harmonies and intimate chamber-like woodwind passages.

Hymn (2013)
for band

Reading session by Indiana University Concert Band

An exploration of the band’s potential for lyrical melody, melding lush chorale textures with Sacred Harp-inspired polyphony. Suitable for young college-level and advanced high school band.

Rambunctious and exciting music pulsing with the rhythms of rock and blues. Suitable for second-year middle school band.

From the Depths (2011)
SATB a cappella

First Readings Project, St. Paul, Minn.
J. David Moore, conductor

Complex, passionate, and heartfelt setting of three texts from the Psalms of David. Suitable for advanced college choir.

A Clear Midnight (2012)
SATB a cappella

Gentle, introspective music inspired by Walt Whitman’s famous words. Suitable for college choir.

A Requiem (2011)
SATB and piano

Passionate, dark, and tender music inspired by feelings associated with old age and death. Suitable for large advanced college and professional choirs.

¡Cigarra! (2010)
soprano voice, violin, clarinet, percussion, and piano

Recorded live March 3, 2011 at Indiana University Auer Concert Hall

Performers: Claire DiVizio, soprano; Zoe Aqua, violin; Mark Dover, clarinet; William Zuckerman, percussion; Ezra Donner, piano

Poem by Federico Garcia Lorca.

Sinuous, expressive melodic writing, pungent harmonies built from perfect fourths and tritones, and a recurring ritual-like rhythmic ostinato.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (2007)
soprano voice and piano

Claire DiVizio, soprano; Ezra Donner, piano

At times gentle and sensuous, then suddenly vigorous and frantic–an emotional rollercoaster in an extremely distilled presentation.

To Wait for Birds (2006)
soprano voice and piano

Claire DiVizio, soprano; Ezra Donner, piano

Sparse and atmospheric music drawing on a modal musical pallette with a sprinkling of chromaticism.

High Octane (2010)
for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion

Recorded from a live performance, July 18, 2010

Town Hall, Sombor, Serbia

Ksenija Mijatović, flute; Jovan Anđelković, clarinet; Ivan Burka, percussion; Mina Mladenović, violin; Kristina Sabo – Tokodi, cello

Non-stop energy blending the traditions of 90′s Rock and Eastern European folk music.

Occupy (2012)
tenor saxophone and 2 percussionists

Recorded live at Brevard Music Center: Casey Grev, saxophone, Bilinda Lou & Kelsey Tamayo, percussion

Jazzy and rebellious music inspired in part by the Occupy movement and the early post-minimalists.

Four Nights in Kapadokya (2011)
for violin and guitar

Giorgos Panagiotidis, violin; Aysegul Koca guitar

Rambunctious and exciting music pulsing with the rhythms of rock and blues. Suitable for second-year middle school band.

Sonata Judaica (2006)
for clarinet and piano

Mark Dover, clarinet; Ezra Donner, piano

Cerebral, revelatory, and fanatical music inspired by the experience of being Jewish in America.

Tchotchkes (2012)
for violin and piano

Zoe Aqua, violin; Ezra Donner, piano

Serious and dour music in the tradition of the early Moderns, with a thread of wackiness and wit running through and eventually winning the day.

Preludes (2011)
for piano solo

Ezra Donner, piano

A dozen short pieces drawing on a variety of influences and techniques, evoking a wide range of expressive characters – from the silly and ironic to the tender and heartfelt.

Variations (2011)
for piano solo

Solid, granitic, and sardonic music inspired by the Early Modernists.

Piano Sonata (2009)
for piano solo

Music often aggressive in character, but with moments of lyrical melody coming through in places, with influence of the Modernist tradition, incorporating elements of Jazz, Blues, and Latin styles.