and often requires musicians to play, vocalize, act, and move simultaneously. Her work is distinguished by an intense physicality that pushes players to extremes by making their bodies and voices instruments of artistic expression. Ms. Kirsten’s non-theatrical concert music has been programmed throughout the U.S. and the U.K. Most notable is World Under Glass No. 1 (2011) for five bassoons, which is her most regularly programmed chamber work to date.
A composer, librettist, and vocalist, Ms. Kirsten begins the 2017-18 season in collaboration with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW series to create Savior, an evening-length work of composed theatre for three singers, flute, cello, percussion, lighting, and sound design. The work, a mystical re-telling of the life and trial of Joan of Arc, brings together musicians and artists from HOWL (Ms. Kirsten’s own ensemble) and players from the Chicago Symphony. Savior premieres April 2, 2018 at the Harris Theatre in Chicago.
World premiere performances in 2017 of her most recent staged work, QUIXOTE, were the culmination of a 2-year residency at Montclair State University (NJ) with HOWL. This evening-length theatrical work inspired by Cervantes’ epic novel and performed by vocal trio and vocalizing percussion quartet, was described as “wildly inventive” by the New York Times. QUIXOTE was directed by Mark DeChiazza, a frequent collaborator who also directed her critically acclaimed Colombine’s Paradise Theatre - produced, premiered, and toured by the multi-Grammy-winning chamber ensemble eighth blackbird in 2013 and 2014.
In 2014 Ms. Kirsten made her Carnegie Hall debut with strange pilgrims, a concert work for chorus, orchestra, and film commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra. She was also the inaugural Composer-in-Residence for London’s Riot Ensemble which gave the world premiere of she is a myth as well as the U.K. premieres of several of her solo and chamber works.
She has been recognized with artist fellowships from the John S. Guggenheim Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. Most recently she received the Leonard Bernstein Award from ASCAP.
Educated at Roosevelt University (MM) and the Peabody Institute (DMA), Ms. Kirsten is co-founder and director of HOWL, a modular new music ensemble that specializes in instrumental and vocal theatre. In 2014, HOWL's record label, Bad Wolf Music, released its first recording, If this world could stop… Upcoming releases include paper and ink, the first CD of Ms. Kirsten's solo and chamber works. Her music is also recorded on the Parlour Tapes+ label.
Ms. Kirsten grew up in the suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri and Chicago, Illinois. After living for seven years in Baltimore, MD she now lives with her husband, Christopher Theofanidis (also a composer), in New Haven, Connecticut and teaches music composition privately and, for the past seven years, at the HighSCORE summer festival in Pavia, Italy. In fall of 2017, she joins the faculty of the Longy School of Music of Bard College in Cambridge, MA, and previously served on the composition faculty at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University during the 2015-17 academic years.
Amy has received commissions from the following ensembles and presenters:
Chicago Symphony Orchestra (2017), Riot Ensemble, U.K. (2017), New World Symphony (2016), Peak Performances (2016), Volti (2015), HOWL (2015), Nadia Spachenko, piano (2015), Jasmine Hogan, harp (2015), Riot Ensemble, U.K. (2014), American Composers Orchestra (2014), Kristin Elgersma, piano (2014), eighth blackbird (2013), Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, as librettist (2013), TwoSense (2012), the Calyx Piano Trio (2012), Tim Munro, flute (2011), Vicki Ray, piano (2009), Jamestown University Wind Ensemble (2009), Dark in the Song bassoon collective (2010), Lindsay Kesselman, soprano (2012), Robin Kesselman, contrabass (2012), Emerging Voices Project, alto saxophone and soprano (2011), and Missouri Verses and Voices (2010).
These commissions have been funded by Arts Council England, the Presser Foundation, Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), the MAP Fund, The National Endowment for the Arts, the Fromm Foundation at Harvard University, University of Richmond, the Leonard Bernstein Family, ASCAP Foundation, Chamber Music America, Piano Spheres, California Institute for the Arts, New Music USA Composer Assistance Grant, Elizabeth Liebman, the Walters Art Museum (Baltimore), the State of Connecticut, and YOU via Kickstarter.
Bad Wolf Music Group, Inc., PO Box 204504, New Haven, CT 06520
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