Anna Thorvaldsdottir - Guest Composition Faculty
Anna Thorvaldsdottir is an Icelandic composer who frequently works with large sonic structures that tend to portray a flowing world of sounds with an enigmatic lyrical atmosphere. Anna’s music is frequently performed in Europe and in the US, and has been featured at major music festivals such as ISCM World Music Days, Nordic Music Days and Ultima Festival. Her works have been nominated and awarded on many occasions, including at the Icelandic Music Awards and at the International Music Prize for Excellence in Composition. Anna is the recipient of the Nordic Council Music Prize 2012 for her orchestral work Dreaming. The Iceland Symphony Orchestra has premiered and recorded a number of Anna's orchestra pieces, and the noted CAPUT Ensemble has also premiered and recorded major works by Anna. Other ensembles that Anna has worked with include e.g. BIT20, Musiques Nouvelles, Either/Or Ensemble and International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE).
Anna’s debut portrait album - Rhízōma - was released in 2011 through Innova Recordings and was very well received. In addition to being selected Classical/Contemporary Album of the Year at the Icelandic Music Awards 2012, the album also appeared on a number of “Best of 2011” lists, e.g. at TimeOut New York and TimeOut Chicago. Anna holds a PhD degree from the University of California in San Diego.
Christopher Adler - Composition Program Director
Christopher Adler is a composer, performer and improviser living in San Diego, California. His music draws upon fifteen years of research into the traditional musics of Thailand and Laos and a background in mathematics. He is internationally recognized as a foremost performer of new and traditional music for the khaen, a free-reed mouth organ from Laos and Northeast Thailand. As pianist and composer-in-residence with NOISE and co-founder of the soundON Festival of Modern Music he has promoted the works of emerging composers, and as an improviser on piano and as a conductor he has performed with many of the West coast’s finest improvisers.
Christopher Adler's compositions encompass cross-culturally hybrid forms drawn from contemporary concert music and traditional musics of Thailand and Laos, the application of mathematics to composition, and the integration of improvisation into structured composition. His works have been performed at Carnegie Hall, Chicago Symphony Center, Tanglewood, Merkin Hall, Sumida Triphony Hall in Tokyo and at new music festivals and universities across the U.S. and Canada by ensembles including the Silk Road Ensemble, red fish blue fish, Ensemble ACJW, the Da Capo Chamber Players, Ensemble 64.8, the Van Buren String Quartet, the Pangaea Quartet, pulsoptional, NOISE and the Seattle Creative Orchestra. His 2009 composition Pines Long Slept in Sunshine was commissioned by an international consortium of ten percussion ensembles led by the University of Kentucky. His compositions have been released on the 2008 CD Ecstatic Volutions in a Neon Haze (Innova) and the 2004 CD Epilogue for a Dark Day (Tzadik), and have been broadcast and webcast internationally on WGBH’s Art of the States, WNYC and BBC-3. His retrospective analysis of his first ten years of cross-cultural composition has been published in John Zorn’s Arcana II: Musicians on Music (Hips Road, 2007).
Christopher Adler is the world's leading innovator in contemporary concert music for the khaen. He has performed his own compositions and traditional repertoire at Carnegie Hall, the Bang on a Can Marathon, Merkin Hall, Music at the Anthology, the Cultural Center of Chicago, the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, and at many other universities in the U.S., Thailand and Singapore. He has further promoted the instrument by commissioning new solo works from composers such as Sidney Marquez Boquiren and Christopher Burns, and by recording multiple works by David Loeb for the Vienna Modern Masters label.
As a soloist and as pianist with the San Diego New Music resident ensemble, NOISE, he has appeared at the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, the University of California at Santa Cruz, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the University of California at San Diego, and the California Institute of the Arts. He has recorded compositions by Derek Keller (Tzadik) and Nathan Hubbard (Circumvention/Accretions), and by Stuart Saunders Smith and Christopher Burns for forthcoming releases. In 2007, he co-founded the soundON Festival of Modern Music, presented annually in La Jolla, California, and he is one of the only pianists in the world performing Tom Johnson’s Chord Catalogue.
He performs improvised music on piano and khaen and is a frequent collaborator with woodwind player Alan Lechusza and with drummer Vikas Srivastava as the Christopher Adler Trio. He has conducted large improvising ensemble projects by Alan Lechusza and Nathan Hubbard, and has performed with such prominent improvisers as Mark Dresser, George Lewis, Anthony Davis, Vinny Golia, Michael Vlatkovich, Christopher Garcia, and Gustavo Aguilar. His piano improvisations may be heard on Mineralia (pfMENTUM) and Pleistocene, by the Alan Lechusza/ Christopher Adler Duo, and on Transcontinental, by the Christopher Adler Trio (Nine Winds), and his improvisations on khaen have been released by Artship Recordings and Accretions.
Christopher Adler is currently a Professor at the University of San Diego where he teaches composition, sound art, theory, twentieth-century music, and world music. He received Ph.D. and Master’s degrees in composition from Duke University and Bachelor’s degrees in music composition and mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He studied composition with Scott Lindroth, Stephen Jaffe, Sidney Corbett, Evan Ziporyn, Thai music with Panya Roongruang, and pipe organ with James David Christie and Haig Mardirosian.