Joined the RPO in 1973
A native of California, Cary Ratcliffe settled in Rochester after attending the Eastman School of Music, where he studied composition with Joseph Schwantner and Samuel Adler, contemporary piano with David Burge, and accompanied in the voice studio of Jan DeGaetani. He served for three seasons as conductor for Eastman’s Musica Nova program and Graduate Chamber Orchestra. For 10 years, he served as Composer-in-Residence at the Strasenburgh Planetarium, where he created orchestral soundtracks for the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum.
Ratcliffe’s original compositions include the opera Eleni (selected by New York City Opera for the 2008 VOX concert showcase) and Mice and Beans (an opera for children’s chorus). Recordings include Kathryn Lewek sings Cary Ratcliff (an album of artsongs), and Mitzie Collins’ widely-selling album Rejoice, Virtuosic Carols for Flute, Harp, and Hammer Dulcimer.
His oratorio Ode to Common Things (set to poetry by Pablo Neruda) is currently in recording for the harmonia mundi label. Chamber works include Gitanjali Dances for Flute and Piano, and Grasshopper Dances for Saxophone and Strings. His Viola Concerto won the ASCAP Nissim Prize for Best New American Orchestral work.
Ratcliff is Artistic Director of Madrigalia chamber choir, based in Rochester NY, and currently serves as Music Director for Bethany Presbyterian Church. In 2014, he released two albums with the Madrigalia chamber choir which will include his new EE Cummings Madrigals.
He and his wife Marjorie Relin enjoy biking, folk dancing, gardening, traveling, and spending time with their seven grandchildren.