Niccolo Athens (b. 1988) was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. He began his musical life as a violist, and started studying composition privately with Timothy Kramer in 2004. In 2010 he received his bachelor of music in composition from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Samuel Adler. He is currently enrolled in the DMA program at Cornell University, where his primary teachers are Steven Stucky and Roberto Sierra. Ensembles which have performed his work include the Juilliard Orchestra, the New Juilliard Ensemble, the Momenta Quartet, the Villiers Quartet, the Olmos Ensemble, the Talea Ensemble, the East Coast Contemporary Ensemble, the Longfellow Chorus, the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio, and the San Antonio Symphony. Upcoming projects include a new work for violin and piano for Sean Chen and Betty Zhou, and a symphony in two parts.
During the summer, Niccolo has attended the Interlochen Center for the Arts, the Eastern Music Festival, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, the Aspen Music Festival, the Staunton Music Festival, and the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau. He has received two BMI Student Composer awards, in 2006 and in 2009, and in 2012 he received a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Other awards include first prize in the emerging composer category of the American Art Song Competition for Composers, and first prize in choral music from the Longfellow Chorus Competition for New Works.
Niccolo received scholastic distinction from Juilliard in recognition of his research on the music of American composer Alan Hovhaness, whose work is a special passion and area of interest for him. This work, “The Walls Between the Worlds Grow Thin,” was cited in a 2011 article about Hovhaness which appeared in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. In 2009 he began studying Mandarin at Columbia University, and has pursued this interest up to the present, spending the summer of 2011 studying in Beijing at Minzu University. In 2009 he also scored new network ID’s for WNET 13, a public television station based in New York.