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Kala Pierson

Philadelphia, PA         

Kala Pierson is an American composer and sound artist. Vivid, expressive, and rhythmically free, her pieces have been performed in more than 30 countries on six continents, widely awarded, and published by Universal Edition.  

Her music’s "seductive textures and angular harmonies" (Washington Post) are "intricately structured, both mathematical and lyrical" (Dnevnik), and her focus on setting texts of cultural and political significance leads to works of "marvelous political power" (Louis Andriessen). 

She has completed season-long composer residencies with American Opera Projects, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, and San Francisco Choral Artists. She has founded or co-founded many cross-cultural projects and collaborations, and she’s taught and lectured in Germany, Serbia, and the U.S.  

Her music has been performed in festivals including Musica Viva (Portugal), Contemporanea/Citta di Udine (Italy), Tanglewood (USA), International Congress of Art and Technology (Brazil), Vienna Days of Contemporary Piano Music (Austria), Canaan Downs (New Zealand), Art Basel Miami Beach (USA), International Computer Music Conference (USA), SEAMUS National (USA), Ars Musica (Belgium), and the 2012 National Symposium on American Choral Music (ACDA/U.S. Library of Congress).  Her awards include those from Mauricio Kagel International Composition Competition; New Music USA; American Composers Forum; ASCAP; the Austrian, German, Serbian, and Swedish ministries of Arts/Culture; the Gregg Smith Biennial Choral Composition Prize; VocalEssence’s Essentially Choral; Dale Warland’s Choral adVentures, and prizes from individual choruses and ensembles. 

She studied at Eastman School of Music (with Joseph Schwantner, Augusta Read Thomas, David Liptak, and Robert Morris) and Bard College at Simon’s Rock. She’s played in gamelan, drum, and laptop ensembles, and she is a self-taught santur (Persian hammered dulcimer) player.  She lives in Philadelphia with her spouses and son.