Augusta Read Thomas, Visiting Scholar

By Kathy Navascues

Phi Beta Kappa is honored to include composer Augusta Read Thomas among our 2014-2015 Visiting Scholars. 

Thomas is University Professor of Composition at the University of Chicago and was Mead Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1997 to 2006. She was on the faculty at the Eastman School of Music and served as Wyatt Professor of Music at Northwestern; she also taught at Tanglewood and the Aspen Music Festival. In 2007, her Astral Canticle was one of two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Music. 

Her compositions comprise choral and chamber music, orchestral works, ballet, and concertos, which have been commissioned and performed by leading orchestras, among them the Berlin Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and the London Symphony Orchestra. 

A fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, she is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is the recipient of awards from the Siemens, Koussevitzky, and Guggenheim foundations. 

Our Visiting Scholars travel to colleges where Phi Beta Kappa chapters are located. They spend two days on each campus meeting informally with undergraduates, participating in classroom lectures and seminars, and giving one major lecture open to the academic community and the general public.

Read about all of our 2014-2015 ΦBK Visiting Scholars on the Phi Beta Kappa website. 

Lynn Harrell, Augusta Read Thomas, and Christoph Eschenbach acknowledge the applause after the world premiere of Thomas’s Cello Concerto No. 3 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Photo: Stu Rosner. 

Kathy Navascues is the director of the Visiting Scholar Program at Phi Beta Kappa. She can be reached at