Ellen Reid is one of the most innovative artists of her generation. A composer and sound artist whose breadth of work spans opera, sound design, film scoring, ensemble and choral writing, she was awarded the the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her opera, p r i s m.
Along with composer Missy Mazzoli, Ellen co-founded the Luna Composition Lab. Luna Lab is a mentorship program for young, female-identifying, non-binary, and gender non-conforming composers. Since the fall of 2019, she has served as Creative Advisor and Composer-in-Residence for Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.
Ellen received her BFA from Columbia University and her MA from California Institute of the Arts. She is inspired by music from all over the globe, and she splits her time between her two favorite cities – Los Angeles and New York. Her music is released on Decca Gold.
Composer and sound artist Ellen Reid announces the release of her Pulitzer Prize-winning work, p r i s m, out on August 23 via Decca Gold. With a libretto by Roxie Perkins, the unflinching, genre-defying opera takes on the topic of sexual assault and recovery and was commissioned and produced by Beth Morrison Projects in association with Trinity Church Wall Street.
p r i s m premiered in November 2018 to universal acclaim in sold-out runs on both the east and west coasts, as a part of New York's Prototype Festival and the LA Opera's Off Grand series. Tackling subject matter that is currently front and center across news media, Reid's work uses haunting vocals and sonically daring instrumentation to bring to light the psychological struggles of sexual and emotional abuse.
Masked pedestrians enjoy Central Park earlier this year. The New York destination now has a site-specific soundtrack courtesy of composer Ellen Reid's Soundwalk app.
Even this spring, when New York City was at the center of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S, the city's public parks never closed. Instead, they became a place where people went for a socially distanced refuge, often escaping into music with their headphones. Ellen Reid has taken that experience one step further: The Pulitzer Prize-winning composer has written new music for a GPS-enabled app called Soundwalk, specifically designed to accompany walks around Central Park.
Reid had the idea for the app several years ago, but it wasn't until the pandemic hit that she went into her studio and got to work. When I met her at the park to test-drive the app myself, the artist said she was "thinking about creating beauty for people to be inspired by and a place to find joy and a way to connect with our phones, actually in a way that connects us to something larger than ourselves."
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Filmmaker Carole Ann Wright's profile of Ellen Reid - the third composer whose work the Orchestra is premiering as part of Project 19, the New York Philharmonic's celebration of the centennial of the 19th Amendment through 19 commissions by women composers
Reid talks about the physicality of her writing process and the images - a golden arrow and momentum - she had in mind for her Philharmonic commission. "I'm a five-foot tall woman, so the fact that I think my emotions belong on that stage is a political statement," she says. "I went very personal and wrote about my emotional landscape for the past year."
The New York Philharmonic will premiere Ellen Reid's When the World as You've Known It Doesn't Exist, led by Music Director Jaap van Zweden, February 20-22.
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Traditions worth saving still need need practitioners and advocates who are willing to propel them forward. Classical music boasts a long, rich history - about 1000 years - of transformation, adaptation, tumult and triumph. From radical, boundary-bashing composers to brave and bold interpreters, the music has remained vibrantly alive even as prognosticators routinely forecast its demise.
The list below offers tip-of-the-iceberg evidence that those who compose and perform this music have, in the past year, been thinking about the future. Here are 10 amazing albums from 2019 that ask - sometimes demand - that we look inward to ourselves and outward to humanity as we listen.
If the recent success of small-scale, intimate operas is pointing us toward the form's future, this year's Pulitzer-winning p r i s m, from the 36-year-old Ellen Reid with a text by Roxie Perkins, is an extraordinary sign of what's to come. The surreal and harrowing tale of a woman's sexual assault and struggle to survive offers one of the most luminous, sumptuous theatrical scores in years. Both Reid and Perkins know the subject matter firsthand: "I wanted to feel like the rug got pulled out from under you," Reid told NPR. After a close listen to the score, filled with glistening colors, bright lights and jagged gear-shifts, you feel exactly that.
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