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Kirsten Volness


KIRSTEN VOLNESS is a composer, pianist and educator who grew up outside a small town in southern Minnesota — a place that fostered in her a keen interest in the outdoors and the wonders of nature.  The magic to be found in the natural world informs and inspires her creative work as do various spiritual philosophies, social and environmental issues. 

She has received commissions from the BMI FoundationASCAP/SEAMUSKansas City Electronic Music and Arts Alliance, and World Future Council Foundation and ensembles such as Hotel Elefant, NOW EnsembleTransient Canvas, Hub New Music, Colorado QuartetExperiential Orchestra, Charleston and Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestras. She was 2017 Composer-in-Residence at the Music Mansion and curated a monthly chamber music series called First Fridays. She collaborates often: as co-founder/director and pianist of new music ensemble/concert series Verdant Vibes (Providence), as pianist/multi-instrumentalist for Hotel Elefant (NYC), as co-director of homeless advocacy group Tenderloin Opera Company, as composer/performer in Meridian Project, a multimedia performance/lecture series exploring astrophysics and cosmology, and as an affiliated artist of Sleeping Weazel. She was awarded the 2017 MacColl Johnson Fellowship and received the Fellowship in Music Composition from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts three times (2018, 2014, 2010). Her electroacoustic work has been performed at numerous festivals including Illuminus Boston, BourgesSEAMUSNYCEMFElectronic Music Midwest, Noise FloorElectroacoustic Barn Dance, and Third Practice. Her acoustic work has been featured at festivals presented by the American Composers Alliance, Midwest Composers Symposia, and the Montréal and Edinburgh Fringe.

Kirsten teaches privately and at the University of Rhode Island. She serves as Secretary of Friends of the Music Mansion’s board of directors and is dedicated to fostering the creation, production, and promotion of new music and multimedia performance. With composition degrees from the University of Michigan (D.M.A., M.M.) and the University of Minnesota (B.A., summa cum laude), past teachers include Evan ChambersWilliam BolcomBetsy JolasBright ShengMichael DaughertyKaren Tanaka, and Judith Lang Zaimont. •kirstenvolness.com

Precious Nothing

commissioned and performed by Hotel Elefant (9/23/13 premiere)–
Megan Schubert, mezzo-soprano;
Domenica Fossati, flutes;
Christa Van Alstine, clarinets;
Andie Tanning Springer, violin;
Gillian Gallagher, viola;
Caroline Bean, cello;
Shawn Lovato, bass;
David Friend, piano;
Bill Solomon, percussion;
Meg Zervoulis, conductor

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Letters That You Will Not Get

A song cycle featuring texts by women from WWI that sparked the opera we seek to create.

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Year Without A Summer

Commissioned and performed by Transient Canvas
Amy Advocat, bass clarinet
Matt Sharrock, marimba

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