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.

She has received commissions from the BMI Foundation, ASCAP/SEAMUS, the Kansas City Electronic Music and Arts Alliance, and World Future Council Foundation, REDSHIFT Ensemble, and Hotel Elefant; and has written for NOW Ensemble, Colorado Quartet, Cambridge Philharmonic, and Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra. She collaborates often—as a pianist with Hotel Elefant, writing songs for Exilkabarett and Erik Ehn’s Tenderloin Opera Company, as a founding member of the interdisciplinary performance group Awesome Collective, and as an affiliated artist of Sleeping Weazel. A twice recipient of the Fellowship in Music Composition from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (2014 and 2010) and she was awarded a 2011 grant from New Music USA's Composer Assistance Program. Her electroacoustic work has been performed at numerous festivals including Bourges, SEAMUS, NYCEMF, Electronic Music Midwest, NoiseFloor, 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. Recent collaborations include Meridian Project, a multimedia performance/lecture series exploring astrophysics and cosmology.

Volness teaches privately and at the University of Rhode Island. She is on the board of directors for the non-profit Boston New Music Initiative and produces new music/multimedia concerts in New York and New England. She has composition degrees from the University of Michigan (D.M.A., M.M.) and the University of Minnesota (B.A., summa cum laude) and her past teachers include Evan Chambers, William Bolcom, Betsy Jolas, Bright Sheng, Michael Daugherty, Karen Tanaka, and Judith Lang Zaimont.




Kirsten Volness not only plays piano with Hotel Elefant (with the occassional appearance on accordion and percussion), but she is also a composer. Watch a rehearsal of Volness' song cycle Precious Nothing where she shares her interest in setting text and integrating sounds and influences of nature into an electronic component that blends fluidly with the ensemble.