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Helena Michelson


Helena Michelson is  a composer based in the San Francisco-Bay Area.  She completed her undergraduate studies in Music at the University of California, Berkeley and a doctorate in composition and theory from the University of California, Davis. She has studied piano with Mack McCray at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and, in masterlasses, with Richard Goode and Awadagin Pratt. Helena Michelson has studied composition, among others, with Olly Wilson, Cindy Cox, Jeffrey Miller, Pablo Ortiz, and, in masterclasses, with Louis Andriessen, Martin Bresnick, Mario Davidovsky, Eric Chasalow, Philippe Leroux, Bernard Rands, Judith Shatin, and Joel Hoffman. She has been a fellow at numerous festivals including Composers Conference, MusicX, June in Buffalo, and Domaine Forget in Québec.  In addition, she has been a participating composer in Antico Moderno Ensemble’s and the 2017 International Trombone Festival’s (University of Redlands) Composers Workshops, and in the 2018 Opera From Scratch program (Halifax, Canada).  She was one of the finalists in the 2017 HGOco Song of Houston Composer Call.

This Quilt of Life (2018)

“This Quilt of Life” is a mini-opera for soprano and piano. It is inspired by the special events held in 2017 commemorating the deadly Halifax Explosion explosion of 1917, such as a special exhibition at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. This mini-opera portrays a fictional woman named Charlotte who comes to the exhibit and becomes transfixed by what she sees, establishing a bond between her own past life and those affected by the tragedy.

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The Morning Watch (2014) for choir a capella

Henry Vaughan (1621 ‐ 1695) was a Welsh metaphysical poet and medical doctor. Inspired by the natural beauty of his native Wales, much of his poetry is focused on engaging with the spiritual world as opposed to the physical.
“The Morning Watch” has struck me with its emotional intensity, its atmosphere of mystery, and its elaborate imagery. In my setting, I treat the poem as a psychological drama, placing special emphasis on certain words and phrases. My intention is to capture the poet’s pristine vision and his quest for meaning of life.

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