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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. 

She has received commissions from the BMI Foundation, ASCAP/SEAMUS, the Kansas City Electronic Music and Arts Alliance, and REDSHIFT Ensemble and has written for various performers such as the NOW Ensemble, Colorado Quartet, Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra. She has written songs in collaboration with Exilkabarett and Erik Ehn’s Tenderloin Opera Company and is a member of the interdisciplinary performance group Awesome Collective. She was recipient of the 2010 Fellowship in Music Composition from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and a 2011 grant from the Composer Assistance Program of the American Music Center. Her electroacoustic work has been performed at numerous festivals including Bourges, SEAMUS, NYCEMF, Electronic Music Midwest, NoiseFloor, 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 earned composition degrees from the University of Michigan (DMA, MM) and the University of Minnesota (BA, summa cum laude). Some of her past teachers include Evan Chambers, William Bolcom, Betsy Jolas, Bright Sheng, Michael Daugherty, Karen Tanaka, and Judith Lang Zaimont. She currently resides and teaches privately in Providence, RI and produces new music/multimedia concerts in New York and New England. She is on the board of directors for the non-profit Boston New Music Initiative for which she also serves as Director of Publicity and Marketing.



for piano quartet. Kolot Ensemble, recorded live at Symphony Space, American Composers Alliance Summer Festival, 6/19/09.

The title (pronounced /ker'fa/) means "disappear" or "vanish" in Icelandic, but the word also has connotations of revolution, spiraling, and change. I had this image of a long winter's journey in my mind, as well as the theme so commonly found in Scandinavian short stories that the forest and sea are places of (super)natural danger. If one chooses to go venturing, one may or may not return (and who knows what mischief one may meet along the way).


for 8-channel tape (stereo version)

Gaia is the theory that the earth is essentially a living thing, all of whose components have a dynamic relationship with other life systems. Present in both spiritual and scientific realms, a constant across the many different views of Gaia is that balance must be maintained for life to continue. Inspired by this concept of interrelated change, the piece seeks to explore a similar evolutionary dynamic, highlighting the repercussions that arise when human actions threaten the earth's balance.


Lisa Raschiatore, clarinets

Ultraviolet was originally conceived as a work exploring ultraviolet rays of light and the concept of radiation from a strong source, namely the sun, highlighting its singeing and nuclear qualities. Sounds used in the piece attempt to reflect these aggressive attributes by maintaining a sense of intensity in the notes, a grating and straining movement pushing and pulling against a feeling of gravity. All sounds were derived from samples of Lisa Raschiatore on Bb clarinet and bass clarinet, and a bit of string bass played by Jacob Richman. This piece was commissioned by SEAMUS/ASCAP and Lisa Raschiatore.