From our Oxingale Music founder, Luna Pearl Woolf:
Last Thursday [February 9, 2023], we lost a major figure in the compositional world when composer Lewis Spratlan passed away… and I’m still processing. When I was 16 years old, my local high school sent me over to Amherst College for private composition lessons and a group seminar class once a week. By this accident of proximity, Professor Spratlan became my first composition teacher. It was a strange and very grown-up feeling, to be surrounded by college students, to be discussing the text and arc of my very first art song, and later to have my chamber music premiered at a midnight concert alongside the works of senior colleagues.
Connecting again years later, I began to appreciate Lewis’s music in a new way. His joy in being a musical storyteller, and the courage he brought to it, were apparent in every bar. Bald humor, wry wit, unabashed pathos and simple truths pour out of his music in a language that is both unique to him, and at the same time universally human and almost tactile.
When I founded Oxingale Music in 2010, I brought Lew on as one of the few – and now growing – number of composers we would publish. Over the years we have worked tirelessly to bring out the vast number of new works Lew has written since his retirement from teaching. From collaborations with The Crossing, Nadia Shpachenko, Cellist Matt Haimovitz to many, many others, his work has been on fire with imagination, engagement, and emotion, frequently responding to global events with a swift, deft hand.
Lew has been a friend, a mentor, a colleague and an inspiration – not only for his music, but for the way he lived his life: with respect and love for those around him, with excitement, glee, and discernment for the joys of life, and above all, with humor, self-awareness and a lightness that transcended the difficulties he faced, even to the end.
Let’s raise a glass to Lew – you will be missed!
Lewis Spratlan (September 5, 1940 – February 9, 2023)
Oxingale Music offers our deepest condolences to the friends and family of Lewis Spratlan. Please see the official obituary for Lewis Spratlan here.