Composers Festival spotlight: Mary Kouyoumdjian

Although composer Mary Kouyoumdjian was born in the USA, her music definitely is informed by perspectives from beyond its’ borders.

As a first generation Armenian-American from a family directly affected by the Lebanese civil war and Armenian genocide, Kouyoumdjian uses a sonic palette that, in her words, “draws on her heritage, interest in music as documentary, and background in experimental composition to progressively blend the old with the new.”

Based in Brooklyn, New York, Kouyoumdjian (pictured) is one of the eight resident composers for the 2016 Mizzou International Composers Festival, for which she’s written a new work called “Paper Pianos” that will be premiered as part of the festival’s grand finale concert on Saturday, July 30 at the Missouri Theatre.

She currently is working on a doctoral degree in composition as a Dean’s Fellow at Columbia University, and previously earned her master’s in scoring for film and multimedia from New York University and a degree in composition from the University of California, San Diego.

Kouyoumdjian’s musical projects range from concert works to multimedia collaborations and film scores, and she has received commissions from the Kronos Quartet, Carnegie Hall, the American Composers Forum/JFund, and numerous others. As a composer, orchestrator, and music editor for film, she has worked on soundtracks for motion pictures including The Place Beyond the Pines (Focus Features) and Demonic (Dimension Films).

An organizer as well as a composer, Kouyoumdjian is a co-founder and executive director of the ensemble Hotel Elefant, and a co-founder of the annual new music conference New Music Gathering.

This spring, her work was presented by the 2016 New York Philharmonic Biennial, and she previously has had artist residencies with Roulette/The Jerome Foundation, Montalvo Arts Center, and Exploring the Metropolis.

You can hear Mary Kouyoumdjian’s music on her SoundCloud page, and listen to an interview she did recently on KMUC’s “Mizzou Music” program here. You also can see performances of three of her works in the embedded video windows below.

“Bombs Of Beirut” was performed by the Kronos Quartet as part of the celebration of their 40th anniversary at The Greene Space in NYC.

“Children of Conflict ‘Samar’s Song'” performed by Hotel Elefant, featuring Andie Tanning Springer (violin), Nick Gleason (percussion), Josh Perry (percussion), and Mary Kouyoumdjian (electronics).

“This Should Feel Like Home” performed by Hotel Elefant, featuring Katie Cox (flute), Domenica Fossati (alto flute), Isabel Kim (clarinet), Christa Van Alstine (bass clarinet), David Friend (piano), Hannis Brown (electric guitar), Josh Perry (percussion), Kirsten Volness (percussion), Caroline Bean (cello), Shawn Lovato (bass), and Peter Bussigel (electronics), conducted by Meg Zervoulis.

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