Composer Peeks

Over the next few months, Intersection will take this time to introduce you to some new composers and some new music! You may know some of these folks, and some may be completely new to you! We'll share a little peek – with some interesting info about these composers, some music to listen to, reasons why we're sharing them, and places where you can learn more. Enjoy!  Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a weekly Composer Peek in your inbox.

Eleanor Alberga

With her 2015 Last Night of the Proms opener ARISE ATHENA! Eleanor Alberga cemented a reputation as a composer of international stature.  Performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Chorus and conducted by Marin Alsop, the work was heard and seen by millions.  The emotional range of her language, her structural clarity and a fabulously assured technique as an orchestrator have always drawn high praise.  Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Alberga decided at the age of five to be a concert pianist, though five years later she was already composing works for the piano. Alberga now lives in the Herefordshire countryside with her husband the violinist Thomas Bowes and together they have founded and nurtured an original festival – Arcadia. In 2019 a prestigious Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award was presented to Eleanor for composition. 

Why we love Eleanor: Like it says on her site:  "Her music is not easy to pigeon-hole.  The musical language of her opera LETTERS OF A LOVE BETRAYED (2009), premiered at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury stage, has drawn comparisons with Berg’s Wozzeck and Debussy’s Pelleas, while her lighter works draw more obviously on her Jamaican heritage and time as a singer with the Jamaican Folk Singers and as a member of an African Dance company."

Learn more at her website.

Courtney Bryan

A native of New Orleans, Courtney is “a pianist and composer of panoramic interests” (New York Times). Her music is in conversation with various musical genres, including jazz and other types of experimental music, as well as traditional gospel, spirituals, and hymns. Bryan has academic degrees from Oberlin Conservatory (BM), Rutgers University (MM), and Columbia University (DMA) with advisor George Lewis, and completed an appointment as Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. Bryan is currently an Assistant Professor of Music in the Newcomb Department of Music at Tulane University and the Mary Carr Patton Composer-in-Residence with the Jacksonville Symphony.

Why we love Courtney:

From Courtney's website - "Focusing on bridging the sacred and the secular, Bryan's compositions explore human emotions through sound, confronting the challenge of notating the feeling of improvisation."

Learn more at her website.

Chen Yi

As a Distinguished Professor at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, a prolific composer, and recipient of the Ives Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Dr. Chen Yi blends Chinese and Western traditions, transcending cultural and musical boundaries. Her music has reached a wide range of audiences and inspired peoples of different cultural backgrounds throughout the world. She holds a BA and MA in music composition from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and a DMA from Columbia University in New York City, studying composition with Wu Zuqiang, Chou Wen-chung and Mario Davidovsky. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2019.

Why we love Chen Yi:

Because of the brilliance and radiance that is so apparent in Chen Yi’s music, it is easy to understand the volume of prestigious awards and fellowships she has received through the years as a composer. In her composition “Suite for Cello and Chamber Winds: II,” Chen Yi demonstrates her mastery of the manipulation of tonality to create a hauntingly fitting work of art.  Chen Yi visited Nashville a few years back to work with Intersection on our program "Dragon Harmony" in collaboration with the Center for Chinese Music and Culture at MTSU. Chen Yi is a strong advocate for new music, supporting the next generation of composers. 

Learn more at this website.

TJ Cole

TJ Cole is a Curtis-educated composer based in Philadelphia. She composes orchestral and chamber music and has been commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Louisville Orchestra, and more. And Intersection has played and commissioned her music, too!

Why we love TJ:

TJ finds the unique capabilities of the ensembles for which she composes and uses them to her advantage. Her works are colorful and inventive. We worked with Nashville in Harmony last season to commission TJ to write "Those Moments." TJ truly intertwined the voices of our Nashville community into her own creative artistic expression. TJ is a collaborative, thoughtful artist with a strong voice.

Take a look back at photos from our world premiere of TJ's "Those Moments," jointly commissioned by Intersection and Nashville in Harmony.

Learn more at this website.

Valerie Coleman

Described as one of the "Top 35 Female Composers in Classical Music" by critic Anne Midgette of the Washington Post, Valerie Coleman (b. 1970), a native of Louisville, Kentucky, is among the world's most played composers living today. The Boston Globe describes Coleman as a having a “talent for delineating form and emotion with shifts between ingeniously varied instrumental combinations” and the New York Times observes her compositions as “skillfully wrought, buoyant music”. With works that range from flute sonatas that recount the stories of trafficked humans during Middle Passage and orchestral and chamber works based on nomadic Roma tribes, to scherzos about moonshine in the Mississippi Delta region and motifs based from Morse Code, her body of works have been highly regarded as a deeply relevant contribution to modern music. She is the founder, creator, and former flutist of the Grammy®-nominated Imani Winds, one of the world’s premier chamber music ensembles, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Performance, Chamber Music, and Entrepreneurship at the University of Miami.

Why we love Valerie:
Valerie's music is vibrant and colorful, often with wind instruments taking center stage. In addition to the exciting, playful musical palette, we also love the relevant, varied sources of inspiration in Valerie's music. Whether it is "Phenomenal Women," celebrating women's efforts to overcome adversity, or "Umoja," exploring the Swahili word for "unity," her work connects with the varied facets of our human experience.

Learn more about Valerie at her website.

Marti Epstein

Marti Epstein (November 25, 1959) started studying composition in 1977 with Professor Robert Beadell at the University of Nebraska. She has degrees from the University of Colorado and Boston University, and her principal teachers were Cecil Effinger, Charles Eakin, Joyce Mekeel, Bunita Marcus, and Bernard Rands. Marti was a fellow in composition at the Tanglewood Music Center in 1986 and 1988 and worked with Oliver Knussen and Hans Werner Henze.  Marti is an active pianist and a devoted teacher. She plays prepared piano with guitarist David Tronzo in the Epstein/Tronzo Duo. She is Professor of Composition at Berklee College of Music, where she has taught harmony, counterpoint, and composition since 1991, and is also on the faculty of Boston Conservatory. Marti is a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow in Music Composition.

Why we love Marti: In addition to loving Marti's music, we love that she is a mentor to the next generation of composers! Check out these short, amazing videos below from career girls, where Marti shares valuable music career guidance and life advice with girls: How to Get Commissions
A Favorite Composition Story, Composing My Opera

Learn more at her website.

Erin Graham

Erin Graham is a composer of contemporary classical music and an active percussionist.  A second-year PhD student in Composition at UC San Diego, Erin has worked with highly-regarded artists such as King Britt, Amy Williams, Robert Black, Nunc, Deviant Septet, Escape Ten percussion duo, and members of the Houston Symphony.  Erin holds a Master of Music in Composition from Rice University and a Bachelor of Music with distinction in both Composition and Percussion as well as a Performer’s Certificate from Eastman School of Music.

Why we love Erin:

Like it says on her site:  "Erin seeks to explore concepts of visceral energy, unconventional forms, and elements of humor by incorporating abstractions of familiar rhythmic idioms into her music."

Learn more at her website.

Rachel Grimes

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, composer, pianist, and arranger Rachel Grimes is internationally recognized by her compositions and her career as a soloist. Her works for collaborative live performances, films, and traditional ensemble settings have gained much attention over the expanse of her career. Notably, Rachel’s recordings and scoring have been utilized in several multi-media platforms, such as the Academy Award winning work La Grande Bellezza. Rachel has performed at some of the world’s most diverse music festivals including Big Ears, Ecstatic Music Festival, Substrata, All Tomorrow’s Parties, P Festival, and CrossLinx.

Why we love Rachel:

The Way Forth displays Rachel’s rich passion for giving a voice to the untold stories in Kentucky’s history. Her deep sense of justice and humanity is exemplified in her music and compels the listener to pay attention to the depth that exists even in the most transparent, or calm soundscapes.

Learn more at her website.

Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh

Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh is a Taiwanese-Australian composer currently based in the United States. Her compositional interest focuses on immersive physical experiences and she often articulates sonic expressions in terms of choreography, phenomenology, and musical-social interactivity. Hsieh’s latest works delve into examinations of bodily presence, borders, and proximities through the lens of power dynamic, control, and gender politics. Annie completed her bachelor and master degrees from the University of Melbourne and doctorate degree from the University of California, San Diego. She is currently an Assistant Teaching Professor of music at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA.

Why we love Annie:

Annie is an explorer, integrating unexpected soundscapes and elements into her musical work.   For example, her work Pixercise, a collaboration with flutist Kathryn Williams, explores the intersection of the female body, physical exercise and the virtuosity of contemporary music.

Learn more at her website.

Hannah Kendall

Hannah Kendall is a British composer of orchestral and chamber works. She studied at the Royal College of Music and has had works performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC Singers, and the Philharmonia Orchestra. Her chamber opera The Knife of Dawn was broadcast by the BBC in 2016 and received wide acclaim. Born in London in 1984, Hannah is currently based in New York City as a Doctoral Fellow in composition at Columbia University.

Why we love Hannah:

Hannah is a true collaborator. She’s worked closely with poets, choreographers, and librettists to create works that are greater than the sum of their parts. This is a value close to the heart of Intersection. You can read more about Hannah's one-man chamber opera, The Knife of Dawn, here.

Learn more at her website.

Tania León

Tania León, born in Cuba, a vital personality on today's music scene, is highly regarded as a composer and conductor recognized for her accomplishments as an educator and advisor to arts organizations.

Why we love Tania:

For our next big concert, Musica Nueva, we'll be performing works by Tania León. Her music is rhythmic, inventive, original and offers a deep complexity. We love her voice and can't wait to perform her music on April 24th (our tentative date for Musica Nueva).

Learn more at her website.