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Kurt Erickson

Composition Faculty

Kurt Erickson

Composer Kurt Erickson specializes in creating innovative large scale, multi-year projects for multi-artist commissioning consortiums. His 2023-2025 Each Moment Radiant will include some 20-25 global arts organizations, including those in the US, Sweden, and Finland. The multimedia vocal work will honor the lives of the thirty-five Syracuse University students who perished in the Pan Am Flight 103 Tragedy over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Erickson’s Seventeen Minutes and Twenty-Two Seconds for solo piano commemorates the 300th Anniversary of Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier and the memory of jazz great Chick Corea. The work was created from a 2020-2023 commissioning consortium led by the San Francisco International Piano Festival, including a consortium of 20 pianists performing the work over North and South America.

His 2018-2020 Here, Bullet song set achieved global success as work that was written for a global consortium of 30 singers from three different continents, won First Prize in the 2020 NATS Art Song competition, and was the subject of a published doctoral dissertation. In a version of the piece written for Sybarite5, Here, Bullet will be turned into a short film by Tonynominated actor/director Will Chase. The film and the new version of the piece will be toured during the 2024-2025 season, screened at international film festivals, presented in performances by military performing ensembles, and presented at veteran’s organizations and other civic events.

Erickson currently serves as Composer-in-Residence with San Francisco’s LIEDER ALIVE!, writing and premiering new commissioned works on their subscription concert series. He has been called “a composer at the height of his powers” and his music has been described as “haunting and poetic”, “gripping”, “genuinely moving”; with one author writing that a performance “moved this reviewer to tears”.

Noteworthy performances and commissions include those by the Minnesota Orchestra, Grammy Award winning San Francisco Girls Chorus at Davies Symphony Hall, violist Paul Yarbrough of the Alexander String Quartet, performances and radio interviews at the American Guild of Organists National Convention, and a commissioned work for soprano and orchestra celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra. His vocal music and song sets are performed on recitals across the United States.

Erickson’s association with the late countertenor Brian Asawa led to premiere performances in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Long Beach, and Seattle with critical acclaim in The Huffington “Erickson’s settings are simply gorgeous: the recording of the Los Angeles premiere (Here, Bullet)…moved this reviewer to tears.” Kathleen Roland Silverstein, Journal of Singing Post and San Francisco Classical Voice. Erickson has worked extensively with San Francisco Opera Ballet Master Lawrence Pech on a number of dance commission projects and festival teaching engagements.

Considered an entrepreneurial artist and thought leader, Erickson has implemented and designed over ten years of innovative multi-year composer residencies with performing arts organizations, cathedrals, dance companies, and national shrines. He is a frequent podcast guest and host, interviewing artists including soprano Karen Slack and Pulitzer Prize winning composer Anthony Davis. He designed the weekly CRC Music: In The Studio series at Sacramento’s Cosumnes River College, and frequently serves as a guest artist at colleges and universities across the country.

While in his twenties, Mr. Erickson created a series of unique sacred music residencies: a 1999-2000 Three Church Residency at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, St. Mary the Virgin, and Berkeley’s St. Mark’s Episcopal Church; then later a 2001-2003 composer residency at The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi. Erickson’s choral works appear on the professional choral ensemble Schola Cantorum’s release This Christmas Night.

A new music advocate, Mr. Erickson has premiered new compositions and commissioned 20 prominent composers as part of the Neue Lieder Commissioning Program, a biennial project on the LIEDER ALIVE! concert series. He Directed the Composers Workshop at the Napa Music Festival, mentoring young composers while arranging public performances of original compositions.

As a young composer Erickson participated in Yale University’s Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Banff Centre for the Arts, as well as festivals hosted by Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Brandeis University, and The University of Notre Dame.

Erickson is a frequent performer with his wife, acclaimed soprano/pedagogue/voice scientist Heidi Moss Erickson. Together they collaborate on new works and speak on topics ranging from composer-singer best practices to assorted pedagogy issues in educational and classical music forums. They are in demand as speakers at colleges, on recital series, and with podcasts.

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