Background & Education

Originally from Flint, MI, Jonathan Bailey Holland began studying composition while a student at the Interlochen Arts Academy, where he received a school-wide award for his very first composition.  Upon graduation from Interlochen, he continued his composition studies with Ned Rorem at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he received a Bachelor of Music degree.  He went on to receive a Ph.D. in Music from Harvard University, where his primary teachers were Bernard Rands and Mario Davidovsky.  He has also studied with Andrew Imbrie, Yehudi Wyner, Robert Saxton and Robert Sirota. 

Currently, he is Chair of Composition, Theory and History at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and Faculty Chair of the Music Composition Low Residency MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Previously he served as Professor of Composition at the Berklee College of Music.

Commissions & Performances

Composer Jonathan Bailey Holland’s works have been performed and commissioned by numerous performing organizations.  Highlights include:

• Stories from Home, commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, to celebrate the reopening of Music Hall

Forged Sanctuaries (String Quartet No. 2), commissioned by the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival and the Curtis Institute of Music for Curtis on Tour, in celebration of the Cape Cod National Seashore, as part of the 2016 Centennial Anniversary of the U.S. National Parks Service.

• Equality, commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony, featuring the poetry of Dr. Maya Angelou 

Synchrony, commissioned by the Radius Ensemble, which is now available on their new recording, titled Fresh Paint

• Primary Movements, a ballet commissioned by the Dallas Symphony and the Dallas Black Dance Theater in celebration of DBDT’s 30th Anniversary

• Halcyon Sun, commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, in celebration of the opening of the Freedom Center National Underground Railroad Museum

• Motor City Dance Mix, commissioned by the Detroit Symphony, in celebration of the opening of the Max M. Fischer Music Center

• Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock, commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, for their educational concert series

• Signals, commissioned by the National Symphony in honor of the 25th Anniversary of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

• House of Dreams, commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, in memory of James Rouse

These works and others have also been performed by the Alabama, Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago Civic, Chicago Sinfonietta, Chicago Youth, Cleveland, Georgia, Minnesota, Nashville, Richmond, San Antonio Symphony Orchestras, the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Florida Philharmonic, Greater Twin Cities Youth Orchestras, Alea III, Auros Group for New Music, Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia (currently Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia), DaCapo Chamber Players, Orchestra 2001, Orchestra Society of Philadelphia, and soloists Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Demarre McGill and others. Jonathan has worked with such conductors as Robert Spano, Roger Norrington, Neeme Jarvi, Paavo Jarvi, Michael Morgan, Leslie Dunner and Davis Zinman, among others.

 Compositions for Youth/Family/Educational Concerts

An advocate for music education, Jonathan has written several works for educational concerts, and has given lectures and presentations at over 50 institutions.  His composition It's About Time, which introduces the audience to the idea of musical meter, was commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra, in consortium with the Cleveland Orchestra and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, specifically for their youth concerts.  Four Sections, was commissioned by South Bend Symphony Orchestra, and features each section of the orchestra.  He has also written educational works for the Baltimore Symphony and WAMSO - the Volunteer Association of the Minnesota Orchestra.


Jonathan served as Composer-in-Residence with the Boston-based Radius Ensemble for the 2008-2009 season.  He was Composer-in-Residence with the Ritz Chamber Players (RCP) for the 2006-2007 season.  The RCP premiered and perform several of Holland's compositions on various concerts in Jacksonville, Miami, Baltimore, and more, and continues to perform his works.  In March of 2003, Jonathan served as Composer-in-Residence with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra, as part of the Music Alive program sponsored by Meet the Composer and the American Symphony Orchestra League.   He has also been Composer-in-Residence with the Plymouth Music Series of Minnesota (currently Vocal Essence) as part of their WITNESS program, and with the Detroit Symphony, through the Unisys African-American Composer Residency and National Symposium program, which included the premiere of his composition Fanfares and Flourishes on an Ostinato.

 Awards & Honors

A recipient of a 2015 Fromm Foundation Commission, Jonathan is a two time winner of the Indianapolis Symphony's Marian K. Glick Young Composer's Showcase, which led to performances of his compositions Martha's Waltz and Summer Frenzy.  He has received the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was a two-time finalist for an Artist Grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.  He has received several Composer Assistance Grants from the American Music Center, as well as other awards from ASCAP, the Presser Foundation, Boston Conservatory, Austin Peay State University, and Harvard University.  His composition Visit to St. Elizabeth's was awarded first prize in the treble division of the Roger Wagner Contemporary Choral Composition Competition.

 Recent & Upcoming Projects

Recent concert seasons have included such highlights as the premiere of I, Too, Sing, commissioned by the Intersection ensemble, and featuring the MET Singers; Stories from Home, commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to celebrate the newly renovated Music Hall; as well as Equality, also commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, using poetry by Maya Angelou, with narration by actor Regina Taylor and rapper/actor Common; several performances by Curtis on Tour of String Quartet No. 2: Forged Sanctuaries, an NEA-funded commission by the Curtis Institute of Music, written to celebrate the National Park Service centennial as well as the 50th anniversary of the NEA; and the release of Fresh Paint, a new recording by the Radius Ensemble, featuring Synchrony, which is a response to many of the events that have sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.