Biography, Awards and Press


California-born, British-educated Christopher Tin is a two-time Grammy-winning composer of concert and media music. Time Magazine calls his music 'rousing, anthemic' while The Guardian calls it 'joyful' and 'an intelligent meeting of melody and theme'. His output is strikingly diverse: ranging from lush symphonic works, to world-music infused choral anthems, to electro-acoustic hybrid film and video game scores. He is also an in-demand collaborator, working with artists across a wide-range of musical genres: Lang Lang, Alan Menken, BT, and Danny Elfman, to name a few.

His music has been performed and premiered in many of the world's most prestigious venues: the Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Hollywood Bowl, United Nations General Assembly Hall and Carnegie Hall, where he had an entire concert devoted to his music. He has also been performed by ensembles diverse as the Philharmonia Orchestra, Metropole Orchestra, and US Navy Band, and has also conducted full concerts of his own music with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Welsh National Opera Orchestra.

His song 'Baba Yetu', a Swahili setting of The Lord's Prayer, is a modern choral standard, fusing together infectious melody and gospel rhythms with complex modulations and soaring orchestration. It was the winner of the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals, and is one of the all-time best selling choral octavos for Alfred Publishing, as well as being one of the most frequently performed contemporary choral pieces. Originally written as the theme song for the video game 'Civilization IV', it cemented its place in history when the Guinness Book of World Records recognized it as the first piece of music written for a video game ever to win a Grammy.

Tin's self-released albums have also achieved considerable acclaim. His debut album, the multi-lingual song cycle Calling All Dawns, won him a second Grammy in 2011 for Best Classical Crossover Album, and his follow-up release The Drop That Contained the Sea debuted at #1 on Billboard's classical charts, and premiered to a sold out audience at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium.

His film work includes scores for feature films Suddenly Seventeen, Tess, Dante's Inferno and Dead Space: Aftermath, as well as additional music for X2: X-Men United, Sausage Party, and Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs Evil. His game work includes his critically acclaimed music for Civilization IV and Civilization VI, Offworld Trading Company and Karateka. He also co-created the startup sound for the original Microsoft Surface computing platform.

Born to immigrant parents from Hong Kong, Tin grew up in northern California, firmly grounded in classical music, but heavily influenced by jazz, musical theatre, and the underground rave scene of '90s San Francisco. He did his undergraduate work at Stanford and Oxford, graduating with honors with a BA in Music and English, and an MA in Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities. He then received an MMus with Distinction from the Royal College of Music in London, where he graduated at the top of his class and won the Joseph Horovitz Composition Prize. He is the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, Sundance Institute Fellowship, and BMI Conducting Fellowship. He is composer-in-residence with DCINY, and has received commissions by the US Embassy in the United Kingdom, Stratus Chamber Orchestra, Bangor Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra at St. Matthews, and ISCMS Festival. He is also Honorary Artistic Director of the United Nations Chamber Music Society, Honorary President of the International Choral Festival Wales, and a patron of El Sistema France.

He works out of his own custom-built studio at the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica, where he's resident composer.

Classical Album
Grammy Awards
YouTube Views


"When I first heard about an unusual classical album — devoted to a droplet of water moving from snow to a mountain stream to the ocean and back to the clouds — performed in 10 languages, I thought it might be a bit much. Then I heard the music. I was hooked." - Jason Margolis, PRI's The World
"This year's Grammy Awards will be remembered as a musical milestone for the video game industry and Christopher Tin. The 34-year-old composer from Santa Monica, Calif. won two Grammys for "Baba Yetu", a song he composed for 2K Games' Civilization IV and for a follow-up album that was inspired by the game. It's the first time that video game music has ever been awarded a Grammy." - Wall Street Journal
"What good is global domination without a great soundtrack? The 2005 hit Civilization IV got "Baba Yetu," as its rousing, anthemic theme song, courtesy of composer Christopher Tin." - Time Magazine
"Commissioning and performing one of the pieces in the project gave me a fresh perspective on how a gifted composer like Tin finds his voice as an artist and hones his vision for a project even in the face of challenging circumstances and multiple revisions... the experience of being inside Tin’s compelling and unpretentious creative process was exhilarating." - David Rutherford, Colorado Public Radio
"His piece, Baba Yetu, for Civilization IV, combined orchestral elements with strong African vocals, joyfully suggesting the cradle of life itself, instead of the more militaristic sounds one might associate with a strategy game about conquering... The sound is of a burgeoning, evolving civilisation itself, peaking in imperial crescendo before, appropriately enough, dying out." - Lucy Prebble, The Guardian
"Tin knows his craft. He certainly knows all the tropes that make those blockbuster soundtracks succeed... This was my first contact with what I would later discover was the prodigious breadth of Tin’s interests in different forms of music, not only on a global scale but also on a commercial one, since he was just as capable of writing music for video games as turning out this delightfully intimate little song..." - Stephen Smoliar, Examiner
"if you haven't kept up with game music, you might wonder how it evolved from that to Tin's "Baba Yetu," a rousing choral work written as a Swahili version of the Lord's Prayer." - The Atlantic
"But beyond the massive success of his Civilization IV theme “Baba Yetu,” Tin’s career in classical composition has earned him equal — if not more — praise from the recording industry. His 2009 classical crossover album Calling All Dawns also won a Grammy the same year as “Baba Yetu.” His newest album, The Drop That Contained the Sea, premiered at Carnegie Hall this past April before releasing at No. 1 on the Billboard Classical charts in May." - VentureBeat
"The opening theme to Civilization IV took home videogame music’s first ever Grammy award last night… “Baba Yetu” is a standout piece of music — always one of the highlights of [the Video Games Live] concerts, for me — and richly deserving of the award." - Wired