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.
A composer, librettist, and vocalist, Ms. Kirsten begins the 2017-18 season with a collaboration between the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and her ensemble HOWL to develop Savior - an evening length work for three vocalists, flute, clarinet, cello, percussion, lighting, and sound design inspired by the politics and relationships of Joan of Arc - the 16 year old heretic turned saint.
Her most recent staged work, QUIXOTE (called "wildly imaginative" by the New York Times) was commissioned and produced by Peak Performances @ Montclair State University (NJ) and premiered March 23-26, 2017 in the Alexander Kasser Theatre. QUIXOTE was developed as part of PeARL - a two-year performing arts research laboratory sponsored by Montclair State University. A 90-minute theatrical work composed for HOWL (actor, four vocalizing percussionists, soprano, mezzo-soprano, and contralto), QUIXOTE was directed and designed by Ms. Kirsten's frequent collaborator, Mark DeChiazza, who also played the role of Alonso Quixano.
Kirsten and DeChiazza previously collaborated on the critically acclaimed Colombine’s Paradise Theatre which opened the 2014-15 seasons of Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art and New York’s Miller Theatre selling out both venues. The Washington Post called it a “tour de force” and said it has “a beguiling element of the grotesque throughout, and the music is complex and multilayered, rich in allusions, and often extraordinarily beautiful.” Anthony Tommasini at the New York Times found it “dark, wild and engrossing” with a “wondrously eclectic score, which combines spiky modernism, breezy pop, hints of Indian music, percussion wildness and more.” The evening-length, fully-staged work was commissioned and produced by the multi-Grammy-winning eighth blackbird.
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.
Recipient of fellowships and awards from the John S. Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, ASCAP, among others, she 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. Recent works were commissioned and supported by the Harvard University Fromm Foundation, Chamber Music America, The MAP Fund, New Music USA, and The National Endowment for the Arts. She was educated at Roosevelt University (MM) and the Peabody Institute (DMA).
Ms. Kirsten lives and works in New Haven, CT and teaches music composition privately and at the HighSCORE summer festival in Pavia, Italy. During the 2015-17 academic years, she'll be teaching Music Composition at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.
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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