Alarm Will Sound has established a reputation for performing demanding music with energetic skill. ASCAP recognized their contributions to new music with a 2006 Concert Music Award for "the virtuosity, passion and commitment with which they perform and champion the repertory for the 21st century." Their performances have been described as "equal parts exuberance, nonchalance, and virtuosity" by the London Financial Times and as "a triumph of ensemble playing" by the San Francisco Chronicle. The New York Times says Alarm Will Sound is "the future of classical music" and "the very model of a modern music chamber band."
The versatility of Alarm Will Sound allows it to take on music from a wide variety of styles, with a repertoire that ranges from European to American works, from the arch-modernist to the pop-influenced. The group fosters close relationships with contemporary composers, and has commissioned and premiered pieces by Steve Reich, David Lang, Anthony Gatto, Cenk Ergün, Aaron Jay Kernis, Michael Gordon, Augusta Read Thomas, Stefan Freund, Wolfgang Rihm, Payton MacDonald, John Orfe, Gavin Chuck, Dennis DeSantis and Caleb Burhans. They are the resident ensemble at the annual Mizzou International Composers Festival, held each July in Columbia, Missouri and focusing on world premiere performances of music by emerging composers. The group itself includes many composer-performers, which allows for an unusual degree of insight into the creation and performance of new work.
Canzonas Americanas is Alarm Will Sound's most recent Cantaloupe release, and features music by composer Derek Bermel, whose eclectic approach draws on the musical traditions of Europe, the Americas and Africa. Other AWS projects include the genre-bending, critically acclaimed Acoustica, which features live-performance arrangements of music by electronica guru Aphex Twin. This unique project taps the diverse talents within the group, from the many composers who arranged the original tracks to the experimental approaches of the musicians.
In 2010, AWS developed and performed the Dirty Projectors' "glitch opera" The Getty Address, in its new identity as a live performance piece, at Lincoln Center, Disney Hall and London's Barbican Centre. Dirty Projectors frontman David Longstreth created the music on a computer through meticulous and complicated sampling, looping and layering, which was then translated and arranged by Matt Marks, Alan Pierson, and Chris Thompson for the 23 musicians of both groups.
Members of Alarm Will Sound began playing together while studying at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. With diverse experience in composition, improvisation, jazz and popular styles, early music, and world musics, they bring intelligence and a sense of adventure to all their performances.