Discipline: Interdisciplinary Art

Peter Foley

Discipline: Interdisciplinary Art
Region: Nyack, NY
MacDowell fellowships: 1995

Peter Foley (1967-2021) was a composer, lyricist, arranger, and music director who developed his musical talent early. He studied piano with Roy Bogas and in middle school played in the storied Berkeley Public Schools jazz program. In high school, he played piano and percussion with the Bay Area Wind Symphony and at age 16 was the piano soloist for Rhapsody in Blue in Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley. At Berkeley High School, he developed a love of theater, accompanying and performing as an actor in several plays and musicals. His fascination with the shows of Stephen Sondheim inspired him to become a composer and lyricist, and Sondheim became one of his early mentors.

He graduated cum laude with honors in music from Yale in 1989. He was a resident artist at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Music Theater Conference, Millay Arts, and MacDowell, and participated in the BMI Lehman Engle Musical Theatre Workshop in New York.

Musical theater works include The Hidden Sky (based on a short story by acclaimed author Ursula K. Le Guin, co-written with Kate Chisolm, Foley’s wife, it won a Richard Rodgers Award, and was nominated for six Barrymore Awards), The Names We Gave Him (commissioned by the Public Theater), I Capture the Castle (commissioned by Signature Theatre), Bloom, an original musical comedy, and The Bear, a short operetta. In addition to the Richard Rodgers Award, Foley received the Stephen Sondheim Award, Jonathan Larson Foundation Award, and an NEA grant for his music and lyrics to The Hidden Sky. The Names We Gave Him was a Richard Rodgers Award finalist.

Other stage works include music for “To Sing,” part of Mark Campbell’s Songs from an Unmade Bed (New York Theatre Workshop, original cast album on Sh-K-Boom Records) and scores for several plays, including Newton’s Universe (St. Ann’s Warehouse), Much Ado About Nothing and Henry V (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey), and Andre Gregory’s Alice in Wonderland (Berkeley Theater Project). As lyricist, he created the official English translation of Kurt Weill’s Magic Night, published by European American Music Corporation. Peter’s songs have been performed at Lincoln Center’s American Songbook, Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, the New York Festival of Song, Symphony Space, Town Hall, Joe’s Pub, and many other venues.

Peter composed scores and themes for numerous television documentaries, including Listening to America with Bill Moyers and seven seasons of the Emmy-nominated, Peabody Award- winning PBS series, Art21. He served as musical director/keyboardist for the premieres of Rinde Eckert’s Highway Ulysses (American Repertory Theater, dir. Robert Woodruff), Kenneth Vega’s Heartfield (Baltimore Theater Project), and was the music assistant for the Broadway production of Sting’s The Last Ship. Most recently he was associate music director for the recent workshop of Elvis Costello’s Broadway-bound musical, A Face in the Crowd, and music preparation supervisor for the Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical The Band's Visit


Irving Fine

Peter Foley worked in the Irving Fine studio.

Youngstown Studio was given to MacDowell by friends of Miss Myra McKeown in Youngstown, OH, where she promoted both art and music. It was renamed Irving Fine Studio in 1972 in honor of Irving Fine, a distinguished composer, conductor, and teacher who was a MacDowell Fellow during the 1940s and 1950s. The simple interior of the studio…

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