When we think of orchestral music, most people recall the age of classical music and the works of composers like Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Chopin written in the 18th and 19th centuries. We envision compositions like Für Elise and The Moonlight Sonata, with mention of contemporary music turning our thoughts to pop and rock music. However, whether or not you’re familiar with them, there are still composers who are writing classical music today. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my Katy Perry who is “like a Lion” and Maroon 5 who are simply “Sugar,” but classical music is always a favorite of this still-dancing ballerina. Here are just a few of my favorite modern composers.

  • Eric Whitacre
    • It’s likely that, of the names on this list, Eric Whitacre will be the most familiar. He is a Grammy-winning composer whose classic-yet-modern style has won over the hearts of many. While a good number of his compositions highlight musical instruments, the pieces of his that I find most astounding are his choral arrangements. His pieces Sleep and The Seal Lullaby both gave me goosebumps the first time I heard them. He also spearheaded a revolutionary musical experience through his virtual choirs, where artists from around the world recorded themselves singing one of the choral parts; Whitacre then compiled all of the videos to create a performance of one of his pieces by an international choir.  What a cool use of tech and art to bring our worldwide community together.
  • Yiruma
    • Born Lee Ru-Ma in Seoul, South Korea, the artist Yiruma truly takes my breath away. He’s known primarily for his piano pieces, and they have this mysticism about them that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s almost like he as the ability to capture real life within the notes of his compositions. My favorite piece of his, Kiss the Rain, somehow manages to recreate the sounds of a soft rainfall within the 88 keys of the piano.
  • David Lang
    • Another amazing musician, David Lang is one of the most performed composers in America. His work has been nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award, and it’s not difficult to see why; his music pulls tones and moods from classical works while reinvigorating them with a new twist. He is also one of the co-founders of New York’s Bang on a Can, which began as a music marathon and has morphed into an international community and organization for celebrating music on a worldwide scale.