Year Without a Summer — On April 10, 1815, Mount Tambora in Indonesia erupted, sending acplume of ash into the atmosphere that created a climate disaster the following year: temperatures fluctuated wildly, snow fell as far south as Virginia through August, and frost killed crops planting after planting in New England and Europe, leading to the most recent widespread food shortage experienced in the Western hemisphere. As climate change and conflict continue to cause hunger, will we tap our toes in the little cantina at the end of the world? Commissioned by Transient Canvas with generous support from the Boston Foundation.           

            - Kirsten Volness



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, social and environmental issues. 

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She has received commissions from the BMI Foundation, ASCAP/SEAMUS, the Kansas City Electronic Music and Arts Alliance, and World Future Council Foundation and ensembles such as Hotel Elefant, NOW Ensemble, REDSHIFT Ensemble, Colorado Quartet, Cambridge Philharmonic, and Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra. She is 2017 Composer-in-Residence at the Music Mansion and curates a monthly chamber music series called First Fridays. She collaborates often: as co-director and pianist of new music ensemble/concert series Verdant Vibes (Providence), as pianist/multi-instrumentalist for Hotel Elefant (NYC), as co-music director of homeless advocacy group Tenderloin Opera Company, as composer/performer in Meridian Project, a multimedia performance/lecture series exploring astrophysics and cosmology, and as an affiliated artist of Sleeping Weazel. She was twice recipient of the Fellowship in Music Composition from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (2014 and 2010) and was awarded a 2011 grant from the New Music USA's Composer Assistance Program. Her electroacoustic work has been performed at numerous festivals including Illuminus Boston, Bourges, SEAMUS, NYCEMF, Electronic Music Midwest, Noise Floor, Electroacoustic Barn Dance, 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 teaches privately and at the University of Rhode Island. She served on the board of directors for the non-profit Boston New Music Initiative and is dedicated to fostering the creation, production, and promotion of new music and multimedia performance. With composition degrees from the University of Michigan (D.M.A., M.M.) and the University of Minnesota (B.A., summa cum laude), past teachers include Evan Chambers, William Bolcom, Betsy Jolas, Bright Sheng, Michael Daugherty, Karen Tanaka, and Judith Lang Zaimont.

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