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Kristin Kuster

Ann Arbor, MI      

Composer Kristin Kuster “writes commandingly for the orchestra,” and her music “has an invitingly tart edge” (The New York Times). Kristin’s compositions take inspiration from architectural space, the weather, and mythology. Her orchestral music “unquestionably demonstrates her expertise in crafting unique timbres” (Steve Smith, Night after Night).

When she is not writing or teaching you can often find Kristin fiercely advocating for the marginalized and underrepresented groups of composers in our classical music culture, hanging out with her son with special needs, or on her deck with locally-brewed Sweetwaters and/or Comet coffee. Kristin loves camping, hiking, kayaking, and riding her mountain bike around town. Based in Ann Arbor, she is an associate professor and chair of composition at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

Upcoming premieres include: Dune Acres with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, in February 2019; and When There Are Nine with mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, Roomful of Teeth, and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Orchestra, featuring poetry by Megan Levad, about the life of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in August 2019.

Kristin recently received an OPERA America Discovery Grant for female composers, made possible through The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. The grant supported Kristin’s work Kept: a ghost story, a 75-minute chamber opera drawn from the haunting of northern Michigan’s Old Presque Isle Lighthouse. Featuring a libretto by poet Megan Levad, Kept was premiered at the Virginia Arts Festival with support from the John Duffy Institute for New Opera in May 2017.

Recent premieres of Kristin’s music include works for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the United States Air Force Heritage Brass Ensemble, Philadelphia-based Network for New Music, the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, the Lisbon Summerfest Chamber Choir, multi-percussionist Joseph Gramley, and the Donald Sinta Saxophone Quartet.

Kristin’s music has received support from such organizations as Opera America, the American Academy of Arts and Letters (Charles Ives Fellowship), the Sons of Norway, American Composers Orchestra, League of American Orchestras, New Music USA, American Opera Projects, the Jerome Foundation, and the Jack L. Adams Foundation.

Born in 1973, Kristin grew up in Boulder, Colorado. She often misses the daily-gazing at the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains of her youth; yet she loves that Ann Arbor is blanketed in deciduous trees. Follow her on Twitter: @KristinKuster, or visit kristinkuster.com

Articles by Kristin Kuster:

Articles January 18 2017 | By Kristin Kuster
Speak Now: Turning Around, Turning Away, and Turning Over

Staying in a place of worry is reliable because it feels real, it comes naturally, it’s not something we have to work at. But when the worry creeps in, composer...

Headlines August 5 2014 | By Kristin Kuster
Richard Toensing (1940-2014)—“The Oak Doesn’t Grow as Fast as the Squash”

As in his music, Richard Toensing (1940–2014) embraced the challenges of teaching with his simplicity inside complexity. He had an indelible ability to be engaging, stringent, rigorous, and nurturing all...

Articles September 24 2013 | By Kristin Kuster
Notes From the Other Side of the Desk

There is a deep, reverberating echo of history in composer higher education, and a palpable unspoken dialogue between current and past students, faculty, and guest artists. Today I continue to...

Articles June 20 2012 | By Kristin Kuster
Why Do We Write Where & When We Write?

Apart from the time we take for performances, networking, promoting our work, etc., I am fascinated by how we composers inhabit our composer-clocks. Writing time: where is it, when is...