The award-winning composer Margaret Brouwer has earned critical accolades for her music's lyricism, musical imagery and emotional power. Lawson Taitte of The Dallas Morning News praised Brouwer saying, “Ms. Brouwer has one of the most delicate ears and inventive imaginations among contemporary American composers.” In May 2014, Naxos released a CD on its American Classics Series featuring the chamber music of Brouwer titled “Shattered.” Jordan Borg from NewMusicBox wrote, "From the relentless, primal energy of 'Shattered Glass' to the naked beauty of 'Whom do you call angel now?'...Brouwer’s music represents just how uniquely diverse the output and voice of a single composer can be." The Classical Reviewer states, “"Margaret Brouwer has an ear for creating some exquisite sounds and textures that listeners will find beguiling. The performances are first rate, as is the recording." ClevelandClassical declares: "(Brouwer) has a talent for taking the simplest melody and through her expansive array of compositional techniques, develop it into a polished musical gem. And even when employing a twelve-tone row, Brouwer never ventures into the realm of compositional gimmickry. Every note she writes has musical purpose."
In 2015, the Music Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center began the creation of a Margaret Brouwer Collection. Brouwer's scores, manuscripts, papers, and recordings will be available for research by scholars, composers and performers. Brouwer’s honors include an Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Meet The Composer Commissioning/USA award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ohio Council for the Arts Individual Fellowship, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, New Music USA, the Cleveland Foundation, the Gund Foundation, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, the Ford Foundation and the John S. Knight Foundation.
Brouwer devoted 2016 to 2018 to composing her 80-minute oratorio, Voice of the Lake hoping to encourage people’s interest and concern for Lake Erie and other threatened bodies of water. Reviewing the October 2018 performance, Mike Telin wrote in ClevelandClassical “…Instrumental bird and lake sounds introduce Part Three, in which the soprano sings about the thoughts and fears for the lake…A stunning oboe solo introduces Part Four...”
Performances since 2016 include those by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Maryland Symphony, Toledo Symphony, Saratoga Symphony American Modern Ensemble, counter)induction, National Gallery in D.C., Composers Now at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, Bowdoin’s Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music, the National Opera Center and Symphony Space in NYC, as well as throughout Taiwan and Germany.
Notable commissions and premieres since 2010 came from the Dallas Symphony for Concerto for Viola and Orchestra; from the Detroit Symphony for Rhapsody for Orchestra; from the Rochester Philharmonic for Caution Ahead - Guard Rail Out; from the American Pianists Association for a competition finalist work, Prelude and Toccata; from CityMusic Cleveland Chamber Orchestra for her Children’s Symphonic Drama, Daniel and Snakeman; and from the American Composer's Orchestra for Breakdown!
Brouwer’s chamber ensemble, Blue Streak, which performs on the Naxos CD, is in its seventh season touring throughout the country performing innovative and eclectic programs. Cleveland Classical raves, “The...players were superb individually and collectively. They’re onto something good here and chamber music presenters who have difficulty programming new music on their series should pay attention to what Blue Streak is doing so successfully.”
Brouwer was a composer-in-residence at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in 2011 where Marin Alsop led the Festival Orchestra in a performance of her Pulse on the opening night concert. Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle wrote “’Pulse’...proved to be a brilliant and witty play of motor rhythms with a sinuously melodic middle section – a piece far too lovely to be so short.” In the Dallas Morning News, Scott Cantrell wrote after the premiere of her Concerto for Viola and Orchestra by the Dallas Symphony with Ellen Rose, "She has written skillfully and imaginatively for both viola and orchestra, and the music engages from start to finish."
Many of the country’s most distinguished ensembles in New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Boston, and Cleveland regularly program her music. Brouwer’s music has been performed at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, the Cutting Room, Symphony Space, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Orchestra of St. Luke’s “Second Helping,” the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, the Kennedy Center, the Concoran Gallery, and the Philips Gallery. Other orchestral performances include those played by the Seattle, Liverpool, Akron, Canton, Columbus and South Carolina Symphonies.
Dr. Brouwer served as head of the composition department and holder of the Vincent K. and Edith H. Smith Chair in Composition at the Cleveland Institute of Music from 1996 to 2008. Residencies include those at the MacDowell Colony where she has been a Norton Stevens Fellow and at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center. Recordings of Brouwer’s music can be found on the Naxos, New World, CRI, Crystal, Centaur, and Opus One labels. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin Conservatory of Music (1962), a Master of Music degree from Michigan State University (1963), and a DMA from Indiana University (1988).