Composer Kristin Kuster “writes commandingly for the orchestra,” and her music “has an invitingly tart edge” (The New York Times). Her colorfully enthralling, lush and visceral compositions take inspiration from architectural space, the weather, and mythology. Her orchestral music “unquestionably demonstrates her expertise in crafting unique timbres” (Steve Smith, Night After Night).
Kristin is based in Ann Arbor, where she is an associate professor and chair of composition at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. When she is not writing or teaching you can often find Kristin fiercely advocating for the marginalized and underrepresented groups of composers in our classical music culture, hanging out with her son with special needs, or on her deck with locally-brewed Sweetwaters and/or Comet coffee. Kristin loves camping, hiking, kayaking, and riding her mountain bike around town.
Most recently, Kristin received an OPERA America Discovery Grant for female composers, made possible through The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. The grant supported Kristin’s work Kept: a ghost story, a 70-minute chamber opera drawn from the haunting of northern Michigan’s Old Presque Isle Lighthouse. Featuring a libretto by poet Megan Levad, Kept was premiered at the Virginia Arts Festival with support from the John Duffy Institute for New Opera in May 2017.
Upcoming and recent premieres of Kristin’s music include works for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the United States Air Force Heritage Brass Ensemble, Philadelphia-based Network for New Music, the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, the Lisbon Summerfest Chamber Choir, multi-percussionist Joseph Gramley, and the Donald Sinta Saxophone Quartet.
Kristin was awarded one of the highest honors the University of Michigan bestows upon junior faculty — a 2015 Henry Russel Award. The award recognizes faculty early in their academic careers who already have demonstrated an extraordinary record of accomplishment in scholarly research and/or creativity, as well as an excellent record of contribution as a teacher. Given yearly, university-wide faculty are eligible for the Henry Russel Award, and Ms. Kuster is among only five music faculty to receive the award since its inception in 1926.
Kristin’s music has received support from such organizations as the American Academy of Arts and Letters (Charles Ives Fellowship), the Sons of Norway, American Composers Orchestra, League of American Orchestras, New Music USA, American Opera Projects, the Jerome Foundation, and the Jack L. Adams Foundation.
Born in 1973, Kristin grew up in Boulder, Colorado. She often misses the daily-gazing at the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains of her youth; yet she loves that Ann Arbor is blanketed in deciduous trees. Follow her on Twitter: @KristinKuster, or visit kristinkuster.com