Billy Childs

Gernot Wolfgang Composer
October 1, 2020

Billy Childs has emerged as one of the foremost American composers of he era, perhaps the most distinctly American composer since Aaron Copland – for like Copland, he has successfully married the musical products of his heritage with the Western neoclassical traditions of the 20th century in a powerful symbiosis of style, range and dynamism.

A native of Los Angeles, Childs grew up immersed in jazz, classical and popular music influences. A prodigious talent at the piano earned him public performances at age 6, and at 16 he was admitted to the USC Community School for the Performing Arts, going on to earn a Bachelor of Music degree in Composition under the tutelage of Robert Linn and Morten Lauridsen.

By the time of his graduation from USC, Childs was already an in-demand performer in the L.A. jazz scene. Soon thereafter he was discovered by trumpet legend Freddie Hubbard, with whom he embarked on a successful performing and recording tour. He has recorded and performed with countless other well-known and influential jazz musicians, including J.J. Johnson, Joe Henderson and Wynton Marsalis.

Along with his recording career, Childs has occupied a parallel niche as an in-demand composer. His orchestral and chamber music commission credits include the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Detroit Symphony, the Kronos Quartet, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the American Brass Quintet, the Ying Quartet and the Dorian Wind Quintet. He is also the recipient of many awards, including an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Doris Duke Performing Artist award, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Chamber Music America Composer's Grant.

Childs has garnered fourteen GRAMMY nominations and five awards, most recently in 2018 for Best Jazz Instrumental Album for his album Rebirth.   His newest album, Acceptance, was released in August 2020, and focuses on his return to his roots as a jazz player.  In the classical realm, Childs has recently completed his second violin concerto, commissioned for violinist Rachel Barton Pine.  The premiere, originally scheduled for July of 2020 at Grant Park in Chicago, has been postponed until 2021.  The four-orchestra commission includes performances with the Boulder Philharmonic, the Anchorage Symphony and the Interlochen Orchestra.