Featured Presenter: Abbie Betinis

Composer Abbie Betinis (b. 1980) writes music called “inventive, richly melodic” (The New York Times), “superb… whirling, soaring” (Tacoma News Tribune), and – of her recent partner piece to Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms – “the highlight” of the program (Boston Globe).  Praised for its unfolding form and dramatic impulse, her music is also characterized by patterns of rhythmic vigor and playfulness. Included in her catalog of over fifty commissioned works are pieces written for Cantus, Dale Warland Singers, Minnesota Music Educators Association, New England Philharmonic, soprano Carrie Henneman Shaw, and The Rose Ensemble.

Abbie BentinisAbbie loves language and often delves into ancient and modern texts in the hopes of inspiring greater cultural literacy and exchange. She has set texts in Gaelic, ancient Greek, Latin, Norwegian, medieval Persian, Spanish, Tang-era Chinese, and gibberish. Her text setting has been called imaginative and sensitive, even while pushing performers to explore extended vocal techniques such as yodeling, crying, spitting, whistling, glottal grunts, or bird-calling. Her recent projects investigate topics as varied as ancient Greek binding spells, pre-Christian Gaelic keening, Newton’s laws of motion, Chinese compassion mantras, early American shape-note singing, and – in an extended work for women’s voices with cello, Oud, and Persian hand drums – the mystical imagery of 14th century Sufism.

A 2009 McKnight Composer Fellow, she has also been awarded a Jerome Composers Commissioning Grant, the Esoterics’ Polyphonos Young Composer Prize, Craig and Janet Swan Composer Prize, American Composers Forum Subito grants, and awards from ASCAP, Donne in Musica, MMEA, New York’s Sorel Organization, and the Young New Yorker’s Chorus. She is featured in the Twin Cities Public Television documentary “Never Stop Singing,” which won an Upper Midwest Regional Emmy Award.

Since 2001, Minnesota Public Radio has partnered with American Public Media to record and premiere Abbie’s annual Christmas carol (composed in the tradition of her great uncle Alfred Burt) to an estimated audience of 800,000 listeners each year. National Public Radio and Public Radio International have aired her performances by the Dale Warland Singers, Philadelphia Singers and The Rose Ensemble in national broadcasts. In 2011, Abbie’s song cycle “Nattsager (Nightsongs)” was featured by NPR Music and New York’s WQXR Public Radio as an example of 21st century music being written by the top 100 Composers Under 40.

Abbie’s music is represented on 25 commercially-available recordings, and is published by G. Schirmer, Graphite Publishing, and Kjos, among others. A strong proponent of small business and cooperative models, she is President of the Independent Music Publishers Cooperative and runs her own company, Abbie Betinis Music Co. LLC, which publishes and distributes her sheet music internationally.

Abbie holds a B.A. in music with a linguistics concentration from St. Olaf College, and M.A. in music composition from the University of Minnesota where her primary teacher was Judith Lang Zaimont. She has also done post-graduate work on scholarship from the European American Musical Alliance in Paris, France, studying harmony and counterpoint in the tradition of Nadia Boulanger with faculty from The Juilliard School and the École Normale de Musique de Paris.

Abbie lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she is adjunct professor of composition at Concordia University and Composer-in-Residence for The Schubert Club. She is a three-time cancer survivor.

More information is available on her website at www.abbiebetinis.com.


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