Billy Childs was born in Los Angeles on March 8th, 1957. In 1975, he entered USC as a composition major, graduating four years later with a bachelor of music in composition under the tutelage of Robert Linn.
Since then Mr. Childs has received a number of orchestral and chamber commissions from, among others: Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Leonard Slatkin, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, The Kronos Quartet, the Dorian Wind Quintet, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the American Brass Quintet, the Ying Quartet, Anne Akiko Meyers, and Rachel Barton Pine.
Thus far, in his career, Childs has garnered fourteen Grammy nominations and four Grammy awards: two for best instrumental composition (Into the Light from Lyric and The Path Among The Trees from Autumn: In Moving Pictures) and two for best arrangement accompanying a vocalist (including New York Tendaberry from Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro, featuring Renee Fleming and Yo-Yo Ma). In 2006, Childs was awarded a Chamber Music America composer’s grant, and in 2009 was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2013 he was awarded the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. Most recently, he has been awarded a composers award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Childs has also been named “Outstanding Alumnus” of the Thornton School of Music (sharing that honor with, among others, Morton Lauridsen, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Marilyn Horne). Childs is currently serving as president of Chamber Music America.
Childs’ solo jazz recording career began in 1988, when he released four critically acclaimed albums on the Windham Hill Jazz label. Mr. Childs has also recorded two volumes of “jazz/chamber music” (an amalgam of jazz and classical music) – Lyric, Vol. 1 (2006) and Autumn: In Moving Pictures, Vol. 2 (2010); both recordings have collectively been nominated for five Grammy awards (winning twice). Recently, Childs recorded a collection of re-imagined Laura Nyro compositions for Sony Masterworks, released in September 2014. Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro, was produced by Larry Klein and features as guest artists, among others: Renee Fleming, Yo-Yo Ma, Wayne Shorter, Alison Krauss, Dianne Reeves, Chris Botti, Esperanza Spalding, and Lisa Fischer.
As a pianist Childs has recently performed with, among others, Yo-Yo Ma, Sting, Renee Fleming, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Detroit Symphony, Chick Corea, the Kronos Quartet, Wynton Marsalis, Jack DeJohnette, the Dorian Wind Quintet, Ying Quartet, the American Brass Quintet, and Dave Holland.
Past commissions include, among others: three works for the LA Philharmonic (Tone Poem, 1993 and If, to The Color of Midnight, 2003) two pieces for the LA Master Chorale (The Voices of Angels, 2005 and In Gratitude, 2017), a piece for wind quintet and piano for the Dorian Wind Quintet (A Day in the Forest of Dreams, 1996), a piano quintet for Childs and the Ying Quartet, and a violin concerto for Regina Carter and the Detroit Symphony. Recently completed commissions include: Four Portraits for Violin, commissioned by Rachel Barton Pine, and In Gratitude for the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Childs has also recently released a new jazz quartet recording (Rebirth) in spring 2017, on the Mack Avenue label.