selected Quotes

 For reviews and quotes on individual pieces, see works pages.


In three acts, the composer and librettist explore a trio of carnal situations, often with surprisingly touching—and funny—results… Paterson’s score is tonal but eclectic … his writing showcases the voice naturally. If Three Way perhaps brings up more questions than it answers – about sex, love, death, fear, and the need to connect with other humans – it does so with wit and sophistication…
— Musical America a chamber musical. You can see why the composing duo write opera together... Paterson takes Cote’s texts and bakes into the words a new and often surprising energy... bundled with wit and a good sense of humor.
— Luke Quinton, Austin American-Statesman
The libretto was provocative and relevant to the 21st century. The music was interesting and accessible with real arias. The libretto was brilliant. What a pleasure to hear music that is accessible and lined up well with the libretto, a feature missing from most contemporary American opera … Major props to composer Robert Paterson… a delightful evening.
— Voce di Meche



[Dark Mountains] is richly crafted, tonal but with knotty contemporary harmonic language and rhythms , proved largely pastoral, including reflections on the craggy Vermont mountainside. The VSO exudes a sense of joy - smiles included - when it performs under Laredo, and this time was no exception.
— Jim Lowe, Times Argus
The audience just roared. Never has a new work [Symphony in Three Movements] been given such an ecstatic reception. Robert Paterson is a highly gifted composer, and a few years will no doubt suffice to establish him as one of the major contenders in American music.
— Mark G. Simon, Ithaca Times



Eternal Reflections, which gives the disc its title, reveals Paterson’s ability to treat words with utmost clarity and send them soaring or engaging in deft choral conversation.
— Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone
Some of the most compelling moments on this recording occur in Choral Suite from a New Eaarth, from a work originally scored for orchestra, chorus, and narrator but recorded here with piano alone. This set speaks powerfully to modern sensibilities, referencing environmentalist Bill McKibben’s assertion that climate change has already permanently altered the planet; the choir delivers Paterson’s evocative music with passion, from the depiction of violent sounds of nature to a more reflective, hymn like texture.”
— Laura Wiehe, ACDA Choral Journal
The program opened with Robert Paterson’s gorgeous “Lux Aeterna,” a setting of excerpts from the Requiem Mass and featured on a new disc of the composer’s choral works. Tautly scored with vivid contrasts and soaring lines, the work proved a highlight of the program.
— The New York Times



While making use of specific ornaments and different tuning systems, Paterson provides a vast timbral playground.... As earthy as folk music, as rhythmic as dance tunes, Paterson’s suite nonetheless unfolds in the satisfying arc of a well-conceived structure.
— Ken Smith, Gramophone Magazine
Freya’s Tears is a triptych building from pensive spaciousness, to mysterious ripples, to echoes of a baroque minuet and then delicate Middle Eastern allusions... clearly, Paterson listens widely and has a passion for the global styles he’s so enthusiastically embraced. Play this loud and it becomes party music: play it softly and it makes for good late-night ambience.
— Alan Young, Lucid Culture
Subtle and intricate musical settings that truly define the words “art songs” [Eating Variations] ... intricate, idiomatic to the text, very colorful, and brilliantly wedded to the subtle nuances of vocal expression. A fine release. (4 Stars).
— Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition

quotes from peers: Composers


What a delight to hear Paterson’s recent music—a most impressive body of work. I find it exuberant and rhythmically vital music marked by energy and a wonderful sense of color.
— Joseph Schwantner, Composer, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Music
[Paterson’s music] is both musically and emotionally effective. The variety of expression is most noteworthy and he really cares about the pitches. It is a pleasure to listen to his music...
— Samuel Adler, Composer, Professor Emeritus, The Eastman School of Music and The Juilliard School
What I find most characteristic in your music is the energy... the stop and go motive cells and the great storytelling ability behind the music. ”Sextet” & “Quintus” kept me hanging on to my chair for their unrelenting drive. “The Thin Ice....” has some very beautiful melodies and timbres. You communicated the icy objective (color) of the piece very well. “Embracing the Wind” is very attractive music and very French. The solemnity of “Elegy” makes it stand out as a unique piece in this collection. The recording quality of the CD and the musicians are excellent.
— William Ortiz Alvarado, Composer, Professor, Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico
Throughout all your work, there is such genuine feeling; a cheeky humor at times and then again, moments of deep and profound beauty. Your ability to write so very, very well for every instrument you choose is an ability I envy... I can write vocal music, but I have so often through the years wished I could write such a wide variety of music as you appear to write with such great skill and such apparent ease. Your dramatic sensibilities, the ability to so directly incorporate humor, such a wide palette of color and texture, and a sure sense of rhythmic momentum... your ability to adopt moments of everyday or “popular” musical styles while presenting them in ways that feel natural, heartfelt, and sincere... I am really impressed as I rarely am.
— Juliana Hall, American Composer of Vocal Music

quotes from peers: performers


Robert Paterson is the consummate musician and is fast establishing a position of excellence for himself in the music world.
— John H. Beck, Professor of Percussion Emeritus, Eastman School of Music
Vivid, imaginative, and with a direct, intelligent style. Rob Paterson is a composer that connects!
— Rebecca Gilbert, Principal Flute, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra
Out of most six mallet music I have heard, yours seems to be the most musical, in the sense that it really concentrates on the music aspect, rather than the fact there are six mallets being used, and that is how it should be. I can’t wait to start playing them... the music is fantastic.
— Gillian Maitland, Marimba Soloist based in the United Kingdom