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

Other Reviews

Yelena Dyachek as Dominique de Menil in “Some Light Emerges.” Photo: Lynn Lane

Some Light Emerges, the new opera commissioned by Houston Grand Opera through its community collaborative initiative, dives right into Rothko and de Menil’s shared spiritual vision with plaintive, purposefully meandering music by Laura Kaminsky and an audacious libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed … it’s nothing short of a pronunciation of American ideals. The piece remained sublime, a testament to both the performers and the writing.” – Houston Chronicle

[In Some Light Emerges] Kaminsky has a knack for making characters sound real even while singing operatic lines. Director Robin Guarino’s fluent staging helped all (the characters’) human traits come across. Conductor Bradley Moore and the ensemble set the scene. Whether it was evoking fog enclosing an airport, mimicking Texas crickets or underlining the characters’ ruminations, the group played lucidly.” – Texas Classical Review


“… an extensive Fantasy for solo piano by Laura Kaminsky (N.Y. premiere) explored, in episodic fashion, piano sonorities from Debussyesque gongs and watery burbles to jazzy dialogue between the hands . . .  with its moderation of expression and close attention to nuance and detail, [the piece] often had one imagining an atonal Amy Beach composing “A Hermit Thrush at Eve” in 2017. Oppens’s insight into the score, communicated through a varied tonal palette and keen-eared voicing, was a reminder of why composers from John Adams to Elliott Carter have queued up to write pieces for her.” – New York Classical Review


sidebar-frye-st-croppedAbout Rising Tide, from The Crossroads Project, performed by the Fry Street Quartet:

“The four movements of ‘Rising Tide’ track the planet’s basic resources — water, the biosphere, food and human society — in a carefully structured idiom that makes the most of textures, sometimes delicate and almost weightless, sometimes thick and convoluted, but always vivid. Kaminsky manages both tension and humor in the most natural way, and her final movement conveyed a profound sense of philosophical acceptance.” – The Washington Post


“Laura Kaminsky had written some very intense music … a concentrated, emotional (sometimes agitated, sometimes more complacent) work which held its own.” – ConcertoNet.com


Music of Laura Kaminsky

“Kaminsky’s 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


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“Laura Kaminsky’s ‘The Great Unconformity’ begins with double stopping and continues with runs and percussion. Her music leaps from rock to rock and, like the voracious river, conforms to few man-made rules … The music is interesting and the sound crystal clear.” – Fanfare


Laura Kaminsky‘s strikingly intense diptych, Deception (with clarinetist Moran) Katz’s moody, richly burnished low register in tandem with the cello built an air of mystery and foreboding, occasionally punctured by the piano. The second movement worked clever variations via individual voices in a very Debussy-esque arrangement that also offered a nod to Shostakovich and possibly Penderecki as well.”  – Lucid Culture


“Kaminsky’s musical language is compounded of hymns, blues, and gestures not unlike those of Shostakovich.” – inTune


“Kaminsky creates soft, evocative moods as naturally as she writes music that moves with force.” – New Music Connoisseur


A Dream Revisited for amplified flute and percussion is delicate and imaginative.” – The New Yorker


CD Solo Flights

“I was strongly drawn to [a] more serious work that uses dialogue as [its] main dramatic structure. In Laura Kaminsky’s Until A Name, based on Conversation by Elizabeth Bishop, the exchange is between rapid passage work and evocative long tones. Fascinated by the awareness of the breath within the sustained tones, I became a participant in the drama rather than an onlooker. Terri Sundberg’s playing is especially expressive at the climactic moment of stillness when a series of repeated notes begins the work’s denouement into a dissonant silence.”  – New Music Connoisseur


A composer with an ear for the new and interesting [whose work is] colorful and harmonically sharp edged.” – The New York Times


CD Solo Flights

“Triftmusik (1991) is a colorful and sharp-edged evocation of an Alpine climb.” – The New York Times


In a gesture of typical good will, Laura Kaminsky (the driving force behind Musicians Accord) presented this free concert while inviting attendees to make contributions toward the 9/11 Relief Effort via the Accord’s charitable status. Suitably enough she programmed the concert as a reflection of her own ­ and surely others’ ­ concern for humanity. Her own River Music could not have been more pertinent, as it suggests her wide travels and love for music rooted in the soil and in the heart, as the program title conveys to us. The 17-minute work for flute, percussion and piano is made up of five movements, with a traditional balance of tempo, dynamics, and general musical character throughout; it closed the first part of the program in a rousing fashion … Ms. Kaminsky can create soft, evocative moods as naturally as she writes music that moves with force.”

– extracted from a review in the New Music Connoisseur of Music of Earth and Spirit, a concert produced by Musicians Accord a month after 9/11


“And Trouble Came: An African AIDS Diary is a narrative and a meditation, skillfully combining words and a wide range of musical styles in a moving and uplifting experience.” – American Record Guide


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“In And Trouble Came: An African AIDS Diary, Kaminsky has fashioned a text that interweaves three poems and some brief Biblical fragments (from Job and the Psalms) with words of her own, the latter reflecting her experience living for a time in Ghana, where she had the occasion to meet a number of AIDS patients. The words are compellingly, simply, and movingly delivered by the actor/stage director Mark Lamos. The lesson this piece teaches is both simple and profound: to love the dying. This disc is crucial listening for anyone who values life and its meaning.” – Fanfare


The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly Laura Kaminsky’s “Homage to Havel,” a tribute to the Czech Republic’s first president, Václav Havel. Kaminsky is a skilled composer who fully understands the capabilities and strengths of each instrument, combining sounds in a way that is both intriguing and unique. Her thought-provoking piece was electrifying throughout and Cygnus performed it with energetic confidence. – Feast of Music


“And Trouble Came: An African AIDS Diary comes slowly and fully ornamented with dramatic effectiveness and quiet boldness. Narrated by Mark Lamos (nothing is sung), the journal entries light places in the heart and later in the mind that resemble the humanness we seek and sometimes stumble on the way. Classical in its simplicity and texture, neither too dark and never audacious in effect, Kaminsky’s selection of poetry and scription set to her long smooth cello deserves mass attention.” – 4Front Magazine


Ms. Kaminsky’s substantial duo, ‘Interpolations on Utopia Parkway,’ reflected her contact with life in Africa, where the sense of how events move through time is so different from ours, and her piece engaged the listener in an unusual manner.” – New Music Connoisseur


CD Musicians Accord

“Not only a tone poem of nature at day’s end, Twilight Settings also depicts a world where twilight, and the inevitable darkness which follows, are harbingers of death. The music is very spare and evocative; traces of gamelan flicker in the percussion ostinatos, and some folkish triads — especially in the opening and closing songs — ­ warm the soprano lines. The work ends effectively and beautifully.” – American Music