She is a
composer born in Plainfield,
New Jersey who took piano studies under scholarship
at the Eastman School of Music followed by the Wellesley College in 1952. She then went on to take compositional
studies for her Master of Music at the University of Mississippi,
graduating in 1958 and 10 years later was awarded her doctorate by Florida
State University. In 1972 she
went on to take even further studies in electronic music studies at the University of New Hampshire and Dartmouth College.
In 1964 she
wrote her Sonata for Viola and Piano and a further chamber work in 1969 was
her 6 Etudes for Solo Viola.
In 1975 she
wrote her Suite for Solo Viola and that same year she established the
International League of Women’s Composers. The following year she published her
Music for Viola, Percussion and Piano.
In the early
1980s she lived in Indonesia and in 1984 was commissioned and
premiered by the Jakarta Symphony to write her “Gema
Jawa” (Echoes of Jawa).
In 1985 she
relocated to Vienna in Austria and became the co-founder, with her late
husband Clyde Smith, of the Vienna Modern Masters CD Company.
1987 saw her
orchestral work Chernobyl being released on CD and the piece has
been performed by orchestras throughout Europe, by the Portland (Maine) Symphony Orchestra and at the Chatauqua Festival. In 2006 it was specially performed
by the Yale Symphony Orchestra on the 20th anniversary of the
In 1991 her
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra was written and in 1994 her chamber opera In
the Shadow of the Glen was completed.
In 1995 the
International League of Women’s Composers joined up with another two
organisations that champion women’s music and became the
International Alliance for Women in Music. That same year saw the completion of
the opera Nemo: Jenseits
von Vulkania and the premiere of her children’s
musical Der Herrscher
und das Madchen in Vienna which was later put on CD in 1998.
Also in 1998
she completed the chamber opera The Death of the Hired Man which was
recorded at Illinois State University and the German version premiered in Vienna as Der
Tod des Tagelohners
decade of the new millennium saw her opera All Quiet on the Western
Front (Im Western Nichts
Neues) having it’s 2003 premier
performed to much acclaim in Osnabruck, Germany. The same year it was performed by the
New York City Opera.
In 2004 the
authors Laurdella Foulkes-Levy
and Burt Levy published the biographical work Journeys Through the Life
and Music of Nancy Van de Vate.
later in 2005 she was commissioned by the University of Mississippi to
write Brass Quintet No. 2: Variations on the “Streets” of
Laredo” for a festival performance and later received a further
commission for Vienna Mozart Year 2006 to write her String Quartet No. 2. She was also a winner of the 2005 National
Opera Association chamber opera composition for Where the Cross is Made,
which is based on the play of the same name by Eugene O’Neill.
In 2007 her
Suite for Solo Viola and String Quartet entitled A Long Road Travelled
several recordings of her works with a few of these including Cocaine Lil by The Belcanto
Ensemble, Six Etudes for Solo Saxophone by Bill Perconti,
A Night in the Royal Ontario Museum by Michelle Vought,
Hamlet, an Opera in Five Acts, A Peacock Southeast Flew and Nancy
Van de Vate, Chamber Music..
In the field
of musical education she has been on the faculties of the Jakarta
Conservatory and eleven universities and colleges within the United States.
She has also held master classes in China and worked with musicians in Tibet.
She was given
the position of Composer-in-Residence by the Institute for European Studies
that is based in Vienna in 2010. She also holds
a position on the faculty there as Professor of Composition.
To date she
has composed in excess of 130 works which include operas, musical theatre
works, orchestral and chamber works and solo pieces which have been
performed by many international orchestras and at many international music festivals.