Maurice Wright was born in 1949 in Front Royal, Virginia, a small town situated between the forks of the Shenandoah River and near the Blue Ridge Mountains; he began composing at age 10. He attended Duke University and Columbia University, where he explored diverse interests that included music composition, computer science and film.
He has been commissioned by outstanding ensembles and soloists across the United States, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Emerson String Quartet, the American Brass Quintet, the Riverside Symphony, and the Berkshire Music Festival at Tanglewood. The American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Fromm Music Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts have recognized and supported his work. Six CD recordings on New World, Innova and CRI include his compositions.
Wright has taught at Boston University, Columbia University, and the University of Pennsylvania. He is Laura H. Carnell Professor of Music Composition at Temple University's Boyer College Of Music and Dance, where he co-founded the Interactive Arts and Technology Laboratory and the Presser Center for Creative Music Technology. He recently served as Interim Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, Financial Aid and Technology.
Described by the New Grove Dictionary as "extremely prolific", Wright's work is a synthesis of his diverse interests: vocal and instrumental music (new and old); technology and acoustics; and drama and film. Critics note elements of lyricism and wit in Wright's work: "Maurice Wright composed half of the concert's six pieces with a level of wit and invention that makes you wonder why the music isn't better known (Philadelphia Inquirer)"; "modern and fresh and completely natural...a genuinely successful piece of new music. More from Mr. Wright, please. Much more!" (New York Concert Reviews.)
Wright was introduced to the craft and technology of film when he met Director Gene Searchinger in 1976 and contributed an electronic score for an unusual film about recycled aluminum, "Metallic Tales: The Social Life of a Non-Ferrous Metal," which received a Golden Eagle Award. Over the next two decades Wright continued to work with Searchinger, most recently contributing music and special sound for the three-program series about linguistics, "The Human Language," broadcast in the United States and Japan.
His interests in image were incorporated into two electronic operas: The Trojan Conflict (1989), and Dr. Franklin, an opera about Benjamin Franklin, produced in Philadelphia in 1990 as part of the Electrical Matter Festival. In both works a video screen was embedded in the set, and short scenes written and directed by Wright were integrated into the operatic fabric. Since then he has experimented with visualization of musical sound and with digital animation, making his first professional presentation as an animator in March, 1996. Shortly thereafter he was commissioned by the Network for New Music to create a work for computer animation and computer sound for their 1996-1997 season in Philadelphia. The resulting work, "Taylor Series," was described in the Philadelphia Inquirer as "visionary" and "lyric."
Wright is currently setting the poetry of the late William F. Van Wert, a Temple colleague whose work Wright first incorporated in The Lyric's Tale, "an entertainment" for baritone voice, actress, chamber orchestra and projected video, that plays themes of religion, existentialism and science against one another in a fast-paced, 45 minute work featuring dozens of characters, including Galileo, Sigmund Freud and Martin Luther.