Laura Kaminsky, New York-based composer of contemporary chamber, vocal, and orchestral music, with social-political topics like environment and war

Laura Kaminsky, long biography

Laura Kaminsky is a composer with “an ear for the new and interesting” (The New York Times) whose “music is full of fire as well as ice, written in an idiom that contrasts dissonance and violence with tonal beauty and meditative reflection. It is strong stuff.” (American Record Guide). Social and political themes are common in her work, as is an abiding respect for and connection to the natural world. Her opera, As One (co-librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed), debuted in 2014 at BAM to unanimously positive reviews, including: “[As One] is a piece that haunts and challenges its audience with questions about identity, authenticity, compassion, and the human desire for self-love and peace” (Opera News) and “… musically, (this seasoned, socially-aware composer’s) dramatically charged music has a tonal ambiguity that allows each scene to go where it needs to, and in a clear dramatic trajectory.”(Operavore) Subsequent As One productions include Utah State University/Caine School of the Arts, West Edge Opera (Oakland, CA), Urban Arias (Washington DC), and Opera Colorado (2017). According to the Washington Post, “this is effective, direct music … Kaminsky writes well for the voice.”

The As One team has since been commissioned twice – by Houston Grand Opera for a new work, Some Light Emerges, that will premiere in 2017, and by San Francisco’s Opera Parallèle for Today It Rains, inspired by the life and work of Georgia O’Keeffe, for 2018-19. Other upcoming commissions include a Piano Quintet for Ursula Oppens and the Cassatt String Quartet and a new work for Flute and Piano for the University of Minnesota/Duluth.

Kaminsky has received grants, awards, and fellowships, as both composer and presenter from, among others, the National Endowment for the Arts, Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Opera America, Chamber Music America, BAM/The Kennedy Center De Vos Institute, Aaron Copland Fund, Virgil Thomson Foundation, Roger Shapiro Fund for New Music, American Music Center, USArtists International, CEC ArtsLink International Partnerships, Likhachev-Russkiy Mir Foundation, Kenan Institute for the Arts, Tanner Fund, Allen Foundation, Jordan Foundation, Artist Trust, New York State Council on the Arts, Bronx Arts Council, Arts Westchester, North Carolina Arts Council, Seattle Arts Commission, and Meet the Composer. She has received six ASCAP-Chamber Music America Awards for Adventuresome Programming, a citation from the Office of the President of the Borough of Manhattan, the 2015 Polish Gold Cross of Merit (Zloty Krzyż Zasługi RP), a decoration awarded by the President of Poland for exemplary public service or humanitarian work, as well as the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage 2010 Chopin Award. She has been a fellow at the Hermitage Artist Retreat Center (and is currently serving as its first artist trustee), Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (where she has been a member of the Fellows Council), Centrum Foundation, Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, and Millay Colony for the Arts; in 2016, she will be a fellow at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France.

Kaminsky’s works are frequently performed across the U.S. and abroad. Her music has been presented in New York at BAM, Miller Theater, Bargemusic, Subculture, Merkin Concert Hall, Tenri Cultural Center, Weill Recital Hall, Symphony Space, Skirball Center, Greenwich House, Here Arts Center, Robert Miller Gallery, and the 92nd Street Y, among other venues. Internationally, she has been featured at Wigmore Hall and King’s Place (London); Glinka Hall, Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory of Music, and Dostoevsky Museum (Russia); Fundacion Juan March (Madrid); Naregatsi Art Institute and Philharmonic Hall (Yerevan, Armenia); Forum of Contemporary Music Leipzig (Germany), Bratislava Conservatory of Music (Slovakia); Vernissage Salzburg (Austria); and the American Embassy in Ghana among others. She has been a featured composer at Boston, Oberlin, Purchase and Shanghai Conservatories; North Carolina School of the Arts; Mannes College of Music; Cornish College of the Arts; CalArts; Tisch School of the Arts/NYU; Bard, Hunter, St. Olaf’s, Doane, Earlham, Augustana, and Sarah Lawrence Colleges; Universities of Puerto Rico, Minnesota, North Carolina, Utah, Washington, Pittsburgh, and Puget Sound; the National Academies of Music of Armenia, Ghana and Slovakia; at the Wolfson Center for National Affairs at the New School; Vernon Center for International Affairs at New York University; and at festivals including the Seattle Chamber Music Festival; Soundfest Summer Institute and Festival (Cape Cod); Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival (VT); Seal Bay Chamber Music Festival and Atlantic Music Festival (ME); Synthesis International Festival (Skopje, Macedonia); International Festival of Women Composers (São Paulo, Brazil); and Casalmaggiore International Music Festival (Italy); among others.

Currently composer-in-residence at American Opera Projects, Kaminsky is a member of the faculty in the School of the Arts/Conservatory of Music at Purchase College/

SUNY, where she served as dean from 2004-2008. She was also Artistic Director of Symphony Space in New York City until 2014. Previously she was chair of the music department at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Artistic Director of the European Mozart Academy in Poland, and visiting faculty at the National Academy of Music in Ghana. In New York she held the positions of Director of Music and Theatre Programs at The New School, Artistic Director of Town Hall, and Associate Director of Humanities at the 92nd Street Y.

She currently serves as a member of the board of trustees of the Hermitage Artist Retreat (Florida), and is on the National Advisory Board of Cornish College of the Arts (Seattle, WA). She has served six-year terms as a board member of both Chamber Music America and the American Music Center, and served on the Artistic Advisory Council of the New York Foundation for the Arts. She has been as a panelist and/or adjudicator for the NEA, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Chamber Music America, Opera America, New England Foundation for the Arts, CEC ArtsLink, Meet The Composer, American Music Center, Cary Trust, Creative Capital, USArtists International, and other organizations.

A native New Yorker, Kaminsky graduated from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art, and then received her bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Oberlin College, and her master’s degree from the City College of New York/CUNY, where she was a Tuch Foundation Fellow and studied with Mario Davidovsky.

She has been profiled at newmusicbox.org and was the subject of an article in the New York Times, Art Meets Environmental Activism in the Crossroads Project.

Kaminsky’s scores are available for distribution through Bill Holab Music. Her music is heard on the Albany, Bridge, CRI, Capstone, Mode, and MSR labels. A complete list of available recordings can be viewed at the Buy CDs page. Kaminsky is a BMI composer.