Alvin Singleton was born in Brooklyn, New York and attended New York University and Yale. As a Fulbright Scholar, he studied with Goffredo Petrassi at Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Italy. After living and working in Europe for fourteen years, Singleton returned to the United States to become Composer-in-Residence with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (1985-88). He subsequently served as Resident Composer at Spelman College in Atlanta (1988-91), as UNISYS Composer-in-Residence with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (1996-97), and was the 2002–03 Composer-in-Residence with the Ritz Chamber Players of Jacksonville, Florida. In addition, he has served as Visiting Professor of Composition at the Yale University School of Music.
Singleton has amassed numerous awards throughout his compositional life. He is the recipient of a 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship and was commissioned by The Serge Koussevitsky Music Foundation and American Composers Orchestra for the orchestral work When Given a Choice, which premiered at Carnegie Hall in April 2004. His other awards include the Kranichsteiner Musikpreis by the City of Darmstadt, Germany, twice the Musikprotokoll Kompositionpreis by the Austrian Radio, the Mayor’s Fellowship in the Arts Award by the City of Atlanta, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Also in Spring 2004, Singleton joined the American Composers Orchestra as “Music Alive” Composer-in-Residence and Artistic Advisor for the IMPROVISE! Festival.
Singleton has composed music for theatre, orchestra, solo instruments, and a variety of chamber ensembles. TRUTH, a work for chorus, ensemble and dance based on the life of Sojourner Truth, was premiered in 2006 at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota by the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers and TU Dance. His music is published by Schott Music Corporation, and is recorded on the Albany Records, Elektra/Nonesuch, First Edition, Tzadik, and Innova labels. Singleton’s latest CD “Sing to the Sun” was released in February 2007 on Albany Records and is the fourth all-Singleton disc. His recent work, Through It All, was commissioned by The ASCAP Foundation and Spivey Hall, and was premiered by the Grammy-nominated ensemble Imani Winds in February 2008.
In October, 2008, Singleton served as Composer-in-Residence in Tirana, Albania. He was invited by the cultural organization Eurynome Corp., who presented the Albanian premieres of selected works performed by the Orchestra of Albanian Radio and Television conducted by Oleg Arapi. Singleton also conducted a Masterclass at the Fine Arts Academy in Tirana. In November, 2008 Singleton's Brooklyn Bones, written in commemoration of the Fort Greene Park Prison Ship Martyrs Monument and setting an original text by Patricia Hampl, received its world premiere at the Brooklyn Technical High School in New York City, performed by the Monmouth Civic Chorus and Orchestra, tenor Cameron Smith, and conducted by Mark Shapiro.
His compositions have been performed by the symphony orchestras of Boston, Pittsburgh, Houston, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Detroit, Oregon, Baltimore, Syracuse, Louisville, and Florida, the American Composers Orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, l’Orchestre de Paris, das Guerzenich-Orchester Koelner Philharmoniker and also the Kronos Quartet, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Nash Ensemble of London, the Asko Ensemble of Amsterdam, Ensemble des 20. Jahrhunderts of Vienna, the London Sinfonietta, Trio Basso of Cologne and the Bremer Tanztheater.
Important international festivals have also programmed Singleton’s music. They include Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, OR, Tanglewood, Aspen, Bravo! Colorado, Music from Angel Fire in New Mexico, Cincinnati May Festival, Cabrillo Music Festival, Bang On A Can, the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, Other Minds in San Francisco, Festival Miami, the Vienna Summer Festival, Pro Musica Nova in Bremen, the Styrian Autumn Festival in Graz, Nuova Consonanza Festival in Rome, the Brussels ISCM World music Days, and IRCAM in Paris.