Composers Festival spotlight: Chelsea Komschlies

Fittingly for an international festival located in the heartland of the USA, 2019 MICF resident composer Chelsea Komschlies is a native Midwesterner whose music has been performed in eleven countries on four continents around the world.

The daughter of an artist, Komschlies grew up in Appleton, WI creating and loving all sorts of visual art, and still enjoys drawing, digital painting, and creating hand-sculpted jewelry. She often uses real or imagined images as inspiration for her works, hoping that listeners will “make deep, instinctual associations with her music, be they emotional, visual, or otherwise abstract.”

She recently completed a post-graduate artist diploma at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and this fall will begin studies for a doctoral degree in composition at McGill University.

Komschlies (pictured) previously earned her master of music degree in composition from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and her bachelor’s degree from Wartburg College in Waverly, IA.

For the Mizzou International Composers Festival,  she has written a new work called “Hexactinellida,” which will be performed along with world premieres from the other seven resident composers by Alarm Will Sound as part of the festival’s grand finale concert on Saturday, July 27 at the Missouri Theatre.

In addition to the piece she’s written for the MICF, her recent projects include a work for organ, harpsichord, and orchestra, premiered by the Curtis Institute in 2018; an extended-reality collaboration with Drexel University game design and software engineer students using the Microsoft Hololens; and “Nunc Dimittis,” an oratorio for voices and period instruments commissioned by the Bach Festival of Philadelphia and premiered in February of this year.

Komschlies’ other commissions include creating works for Rock School for Dance Education and One Book, One Philadelphia, and a distinguished composition fellow commission from the Cortona Sessions for New Music.

Her music has been performed at events such as the Ravinia Festival and the finale concert of Make Music Chicago, and she has received fellowships from programs including the Aspen Music Festival, Copland House, the Fontainebleau School (where Nadia Boulanger once taught), the Fresh Inc Festival, the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival, and a number of other festivals in the U.S. and abroad.

For more about Chelsea Komschlies, listen to her interview broadcast a few weeks back on KMUC’s “Mizzou Music” program.  You can hear some of her music in the embedded players below.

“Steam,” recorded November 4, 2017 at Bread & Salt in San Diego, CA, featuring Beth Ross Buckley (flute) and Sheryl Renk (clarinet)

“Borealis”, world premiere performance recorded April 6, 2018 at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, PA, featuring Emma Resmini (flute), Julian Tello (viola), and Lena Goodson (bass)