Since 1972, Joan Tower has taught at Bard College, where she is Asher B. Edelman Professor in the Arts. She is regarded as one of the most important living American composers. During a career spanning more than 50 years, Tower has made lasting contributions as composer, performer, conductor, and educator.
She has received commissions from the New York Philharmonic, St. Louis, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Houston Symphonies, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center Chamber Society, among many other major ensembles, soloists, and orchestras. She was the first composer chosen for a Ford Made in America consortium commission for 65 orchestras. Leonard Slatkin and the Nashville Symphony recorded her composition Made in America
in 2008; the album collected three Grammy awards. In 1990, she became the first woman to win the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Silver Ladders
. Other accolades include an honorary degree from the New England Conservatory (2006), the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Composer of the Year (2010–11), and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Guggenheim Foundation, and New York State Council on the Arts. She received her B.A. at Bennington College and her M.A. and D.M.A. at Columbia University. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2004) and the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1998). Photo by Noah Sheldon