Judith Shatin (www.judithshatin.com) is a composer and sound artist whose musical practice engages our social, cultural, and physical environments. She draws on expanded instrumental palettes and a cornucopia of the sounding world, from machines in a deep coal mine, to the calls of animals, the shuttle of a wooden loom, a lawnmower racing up a lawn. She crosses genres routinely, making music that combines sounds as divergent as phase-vocoded recording of potato chips being chomped to the pure sounds of a children’s chorus.Timbral exploration as well as collaboration with musicians, artists and communities are central to her musical life. Her music reflects her multiple fascinations with literature and visual arts, with the sounding world, both natural and built; and with the social and communicative power of music.
Commissions include those from the Barlow Endowment and Fromm Foundation, the Cassatt and Kronos Quartets, the Dutch Hexagon Ensemble, the Peninsula Women’s Chorus, Scottish Voices, the National, Richmond and Illinois Symphonies and many more. Her music has been featured at festivals including Aspen, BAM Next Wave, Grand Teton, Havana in Spring, Moscow Autumn, Seal Bay, Ukraine, Soundways (St. Petersburg) and West Cork. Orchestras that have presented her music include the National, Houston, Illinois, Knoxville, Minnesota and Richmond Symphonies.
Sounds of the environment play an increasing role in Shatin’s music, as in her path-breaking Singing the Blue Ridge, scored for mezzo, baritone, orchestra and the calls of wild animals; and in For the Birds, for amplified cello and electronics from processed birdsong. In COAL, an evening-length folk oratorio for which she wrote both the music and the libretto, she also brought together divergent sounds with great power. Supported by the Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Arts Partners Program, COAL is scored for chorus, Appalachian ensemble, synthesizer and electronic playback. It’s grand scale and sweeping scope captures an entire way of life. And in both Singing the Blue Ridge and COAL, Shatin played an active role as a community partner, working with multiple civic and community organizations.
Examples of Shatin’s electroacoustic approach can also be heard in Sic Transit, for percussionist and 6 percussion robot arms, created by EMMI, and performed by the Figura Ensemble in Copenhagen while Shatin was the featured composer at the Sound and Computing Conference; Elijah’s Chariot, for string quartet and electronics, commissioned and toured world-wide by the Kronos Quartet; in Penelope’s Song, for with multiple versions for solo instruments with electronics made from weaving sounds; or in Three Summers Heat for soprano and electronics, recorded by the wonderful soprano Susan Narucki. Shatin also develops interactive technologies, as in; in Tree Music , an interactive computer installation; in Sea of Reeds for amplified clarinet with PVC tubing and live electronics, toured extensively by the outstanding clarinetist F. Gerard Errante; and in Kairos for flute and live electronics, recorded by noted flutist Patricia Spencer. Her multimedia piece Grito del Corazón (Cry of the Heart), inspired by Goya’s “Black Paintings,” and scored for chamber ensemble, electronics and optional video (by Kathy Aoki), was commissioned by Ensemble Barcelona Nova Musica and has had numerous performances in Europe, South America, and the US. She also composed music for Kevin J. Everson’s film, Cinnamon, shown at the Sundance, Munich and Rotterdam Film Festivals, among many others.
Shatin continues to create a wide variety of acoustic pieces as demonstrated in the following commissions: Trace Elements (Ensemble Berlin PianoPercussion) Why the Caged Bird Sings (Young People’s Chorus of New York City), The Jumblies (The Peninsula Women’s Chorus), Clave (the newEar Ensemble), Jabberwocky (the Virginia Glee Club, TTBB), and Teruah, for shofar, brass ensemble and tympani (the Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival).
A staunch advocate for her fellow composers, Shatin has served on the boards of the American Composers Alliance, the League/ISCM, and the International Alliance for Women in Music (IAWM) and as President of American Women Composers, Inc. (1989-93). Her teaching focuses on composition, computer music, songwriting and associated topics in contemporary music. She is in high demand as a master teacher. Examples include the BMI residency at Vanderbilt University, Senior Composer at the Wellesley Composers Conference, composer residencies at Wintergreen Performing Arts and the Chamber Music Conference of the East, and residency as Master Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts.
Shatin has been honored with four National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, as well as awards from the American Music Center, Meet the Composer, the New Jersey State Arts Council and the Virginia Commission for the Arts. She has held residencies at Bellagio (Italy), Brahmshaus (Germany), Stiftung Dr. Robert und Lina Thyll-Dürr, Casa Zia Lina (Italy), La Cité des Arts (France), Mishkan Omanim (Israel) and in the US at MacDowell, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Yaddo. Recorded on the Capstone, Centaur, CRI, Innova, Neuma, New World, Ravello and Sonora labels, Shatin’s music is published by Arsis Press, Colla Voce, E.C. Schirmer, Edition Peters, G. Schirmer, Hal Leonard and Wendigo Music.
Educated at Douglass College (AB, Phi Beta Kappa), The Juilliard School (MM, Abraham Ellstein Prize) and Princeton University (MFA, PhD),Shatin undertook additional studies, including two summers as a Crofts Composition Fellow at Tanglewood, and studies at the Aspen Music Festival. She is currently William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor at the University of Virginia, where she founded the Virginia Center for Computer Music.