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Jessica Rudman

Hartford, CT            

Jessica Rudman’s recent music inspires empathy for contemporary social issues through stories of myth, magic, and sci-fi. Described as a “new music ninja” by the Hartford Advocate, she blends lyrical melodies and dramatic narrative structures with sensual harmony and vibrant color to draw the audience into the world she has created. Her works for the concert hall, dance, and opera often differ in musical language and approach, with the common thread always being expressivity. She believes that the ability to reach one’s audience is of extreme importance in our current social, economic, and political environment. 

Rudman’s compositions have been presented across the United States, Europe, and South America by ensembles including the International Contemporary Ensemble, the Cadillac Moon EnsembleThe Omaha Symphony’s Chamber Orchestra, the Yakima Symphony Orchestra, and the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra.   

Rudman also writes extensively for student and community ensembles, recently completing commissions for the Connecticut Region 14 Band program, the Connecticut Children’s Choir, the First Unitarian Church of Portland (OR), and the Astoria Choir. Many of these commissions involved collaborative residencies: for example, Masks for concert band is based on melodic fragments that the students composed, and Of Equality for children’s choir combines a text by Walt Whitman with responses by the students.

In 2018, Jessica’s chamber opera Marie Curie Learns to Swim (libretto by Kendra Preston Leonard) was premiered by Hartford Opera Theater. The work explores the life the notable scientist through flashbacks during a vacation with her daughter, and focuses on her experiences as a woman in a male-dominated field and an immigrant in her adopted country.

Other recent compositions focused on social justice themes include the mini-opera Trigger, which features a woman’s response to domestic violence; A Curious Incident with the Queen, which uses a children’s story to explore economic oppression and political powerlessness; and Gaslight Variations, a solo for microtonal flute with glissando head joint that treats thematic variation as an analogy for the phenomena of gaslighting. Upcoming projects include a song cycle inspired by Slavic mythology and an opera about the gorgons.

Jessica is currently the Head of Composition and Musicianship at the Hartt Community Division, where she also directs the Hartt Preparatory Academy. She has taught at The Hartt School, Central Connecticut State University, Eastern Connecticut State University, and Baruch College. Highly involved in the new music community as a concert organizer and music educator, Rudman volunteers with the Women Composers Festival of Hartford, where she runs the student workshop.

Jessica holds a B.A. with Distinction in Music from the University of Virginia, a M.M. in Music Composition from The Hartt School, and an A.D. in Music Composition, also from Hartt. In 2015, she completed her Ph.D. at the City University of New York, where she was awarded an Enhanced Chancellor’s Fellowship. Other honors include winning the Riot Ensemble’s Commissioning Competition, the Robert Starer Award, the Boston Metro Opera’s Advocacy Award, the College Music Society Student Composer Award, the NewMusic@ECU Orchestra Composition Competition, and IAWM’s Libby Larsen Prize.

Jessica is a 2019 Connecticut Artist Fellow, with support from the Connecticut Office of the Arts, which also receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

You, As You Were Before You Existed

This violin and cello duo was inspired by Pablo Neruda’s poem “Every Day You Play” from Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair. I was particularly fascinated with the line “Oh let me remember you as you were before you existed.” The words resonated with an idea for a piece that had been gestating in the back of my mind: a melody gradually emerges from chaos and is transformed over time, eventually reaching an emotional climax far removed from the tumult of the opening.

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Based on an actual incident in Nova Scotia in 2014, “Trigger” explores a woman’s reaction to a news story about domestic abuse. The work is in four sections, each focused on a different aspect of the protagonist’s thought process and emotions. At first, she expresses her outrage about the incident from the news story before considering different excuses abusers give. She later contemplates her own experiences and her despair at how society handles such acts.

For an excerpt, start at 5:07.

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Foundling began as an experiment where I listed all the things I normally do in a piece of music and then purposefully avoided them.Written for a solo vocalist accompanied by a flexible ensemble of performers, the music sets a found poem I created. The title Foundling is both one of the words in the text and a reflection of the process I undertook in creating poem. The music is an exploration of vocal and percussive color inspired by the sound and individual meaning of the words.

For an excerpt, start at 5:08.

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NewMusicBox Articles

Articles October 28 2019 | By Jessica Rudman
Sealing the Deal: Signing the Contract and Completing the Collaboration

Assuming you are setting a completed text in a transactional partnership, you’re now ready to write up your contract, get it signed, and start composing.

Articles October 21 2019 | By Jessica Rudman
What You Get and What You Give: Permission and Compensation for Setting a Text

Who owns what rights will depend on the nature of your collaboration and what you negotiate. For transactional partnerships involving pre-existing text, the author/publisher keeps the copyright of the words,...

Articles October 15 2019 | By Jessica Rudman
Transactional and Collaborative Approaches to Working with Authors

Informed consent is essential for successfully collaborating with writers. However, what each person must be informed about and consent to depends in part on whether the partnership will be transactional...

See more of Jessica Rudman's articles on NewMusicBox.