Eric Whitacre (born January 2, 1970 in Reno, Nevada) is an American composer, conductor and lecturer. He is one of the most popular and performed composers of his generation. The Los Angeles Times described his work as evoking "unearthly beauty and imagination" and the American Record Guide noted its "emotional directness and intensity". In 2008, the all-Whitacre choral CD Cloudburst (released by the British ensemble Polyphony on Hyperion Records became an international best-seller, topping the classical charts and earning a Grammy nomination. The BBC noted: "what hits you straight between the eyes is the honesty, optimism and sheer belief that passes any pretension. This is music that can actually make you smile." Whitacre's Virtual Choir projects on YouTube exposed his music to a new audience.  Whitacre signed a long-term recording deal with Decca in 2010 and continues to develop his award winning musical Paradise Lost. 2010 saw a semi-staged, sold out performance at Carnegie Hall.  Plans for the stage show and soundtrack extend into 2011.
Whitacre began his musical training while an undergraduate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he studied composition with avant garde Ukrainian composer Virko Baley and choral conducting with David Weiller. He wrote his setting of Go, Lovely Rose for his college choir and presented the composition as a gift to David Weiller. Eric went on to earn his Master's degree in composition at the Juilliard School, where he studied with John Corigliano. Since then, Whitacre has received many commissioning awards and honors, with sheet music sales of over 1,000,000 copies worldwide. His works Water Night, Cloudburst, Sleep, Lux Aurumque, and A Boy and a Girl are among the most popular choral works of the last decade, and his Ghost Train, Godzilla Eats Las Vegas and October have achieved success in the symphonic wind community. His cutting edge musical Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings, which combines influences including trance, electronica, and anime with choral, cinematic, and operatic traditions, won the ASCAP Harold Arlen Award, the Richard Rogers award, and 10 Ovation Award nominations. He has received composition awards from the Barlow International Composition Competition, the American Choral Directors Association and the American Composers Forum. In 2001, Whitacre became the youngest recipient ever awarded the coveted Raymond C. Brock commission by the American Choral Directors Association.
He is currently completing his first full-length oratorio for chorus, soprano soloist, and orchestra; a commission for the Berlin Rundfunkchor  and a major commission for the London Symphony Chorus which will be performed with the London Symphony Orchestra in October 2010. Since 2000, he has conducted concerts of his choral and symphonic music in Japan, Australia, China, Singapore, South America and much of Europe, as well as in American Universities and colleges where he regularly conducts seminars and lectures with young musicians. 2010-11 commissions include works for Chanticleer, The King's Singers and Conspirare.
Whitacre's first recording, The Music of Eric Whitacre, was named by the American Record Guide as one of the top ten classical albums of 1997. In 2006, a full collection of his a cappella music, Cloudburst and Other Choral Works, was released on the renowned British label Hyperion Records. The album became an international best seller, appearing in the top ten of both Billboard's and iTunes Top Classical Albums charts. Two years after its release, it continues to be a top-seller and won a 2007 Grammy nomination for Best Choral Performance. In 2010, Whitacre signed to Decca as a performer, conducting the first album of his music Light & Gold, which will be released in late 2010.
Whitacre writes music that incorporates contemporary sounds and influences while demanding precision, intonation and ensemble. Eric Whitacre divides his time between conducting and teaching throughout the world and the demands of his composing. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Grammy-award winning soprano Hila Plitmann and their son.
Whitacre is probably best known for his choral works; however, both his choral and instrumental styles use his signature "Whitacre chords," or pan-diatonic clusters usually arranged in successive increasing or decreasing density. Whitacre achieves this growth and decay by splitting voices divisi—sometimes into up to four or five parts. These sonorities can often be read as seventh or ninth chords, with or without suspended seconds and fourths. Perhaps his most famous chord is a root-position major triad with an added major second and/or perfect fourth. Whitacre makes frequent use of quartal, quintal and secundal harmonies, and is also known for his use of unconventional chord progressions. His use of rhythm often involves mixed, complex, and/or compound meters. His pieces sometimes include frequent meter changes and unusual rhythmic patterns. Another trademark of Whitacre's pieces is the use of aleatoric and indeterminate sections, as well as unusual score instructions involving, in some cases, hand actions and/or props. 
Whitacre's Virtual Choir projects began with Sleep in 2009  and was followed by Lux Aurumque in 2010  Combining 185 voices from 12 countries, the virtual choir has been described as a "musical experience that works better than anyone might have expected" (Gramophone, August 2010) Not only did it receive 1,000,000 hits in the first two months captured the attention of entrepreneurs and decision makers worldwide, from the United Nations to Google.
Whitacre's first album with Decca, Light & Gold will be released in October 2010. From October to December 2010, Whitacre will be a visiting Fellow at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge during Michaelmas (Autumn) Term, and will compose a piece for the college choir, as well as work with students in masterclasses and workshops. The concert version of his musical Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings was performed to a sold out audience at Carnegie Hall in June 2010
Eric's had worked collaboratively with Distinguished Concerts International New York  (DCINY) and will collaborate with them again in 2011 in New York, Vancouver and Los Angeles.. He was described by the New York Times as a "younger, hipper Andrew Lloyd Webber, with fleeting hints of Bernstein and Sondheim". 
On 24 October 2010, he will conduct an all-American programme with the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus at the Barbican  London, in a performance that will feature his commission for the London Symphony Chorus entitled Songs of Immortality. On 28 November 2010, he will sit on the panel of judges for the final of Choir of the Year, broadcast on BBC Four and BBC Radio 3. In December 2010, Whitacre will conduct the I Vocalisti choir in Hamburg, and will be guest conductor of the Christmas performance of the Berlin Rundfunkchor 
On 6 November 2010, Whitacre will conduct Côrdydd, a Cardiff-based mixed choir, and friends in a concert of his work at the BBC Hoddinott Hall in the Wales Millennium Centre
Whitacre is a founding member of The Consortium, a quartet of composers consisting of himself, Steven Bryant, Jonathan Newman and James Bonney, which aspires to "enrich the wind ensemble repertoire with music unbound by traditional thought or idiomatic cliché."