July 3, 2013

About Harriet



Last year, I made “Harriet Steinke, Composer” business cards, and on the back I put a small-print biography for agile-eyed recipients to read later upon interest (or boredom). This experience prompted me to revise my “professional” (contrived) biography to a goofier, autobiography. Hopefully, you’ll find it more purposeful.

As a composer, I get inspiration from language and narrative, and similarly find that most of my work attempts to tell some sort of story. I’ve collaborated with artists across various disciplines, and my works have been premiered within presentations of dance, visual art, theatre, and poetry. Recent performers of my work have included student musicians from Butler University, Indiana University, and the University of Michigan as well as the Butler Chorale, Spectra chorus, the North Meridian Brass Choir, Butler Chamber Singers, and various ensembles under Butler University Composers’ Orchestra. In late 2016, I received a few international premieres in Dublin, Ireland (Dulciana Choir) and São Paulo, Brazil (Coral Paulistano). Some of my music is published by Colla Voce Music and Hal Leonard Corporation – Hal Leonard’s product description for one of my choir pieces describes the work as giving “emotional context that will offer appropriate challenge and reward.” Although fairly surgical, I’d say this describes a lot of my work.

I have received recognition, awards, grants, and commissions for various interdisciplinary projects. A favorite project – in 2015 I received a grant through the Undergraduate Research Scholarship Program to conduct research surrounding the experiences of World War II soldiers. This work aided the composition of a piece setting my grandfather’s World War II letters for tenor, baritone, and chamber ensemble in a narrative-cycle. This premiered in November 2015 and later earned 3rd place for the 2016 American Prize in the opera/theatre/film division. Read about the project here.

Having written a lot of vocal music, I am fascinated by language and translation, with experience setting text in German, Norwegian, Hebrew, and Latin. In 2015, Butler’s all-majors chorus premiered my work setting the cheeky descriptions on the back of Tazo® tea boxes for SATB choir and piano. Passionate about collaborating with living writers, recent and upcoming projects include writers John Leo (MFA, Butler University), Chad Rochkind, W.S. Merwin, Jean Valentine, and Anthony Doerr (All The Light We Cannot See).

I have had private study in voice, viola, conducting, and piano. I have performed in orchestras, choirs, and chamber ensembles for my entire life. With no burning aspirations as a great performer, my goals as a musician include (but are not limited to) memorizing all the Bach Inventions and Sinfonias by 2021. I took private poetry lessons for a semester in 2016 under Alessandra Lynch, an experience I found incredibly insightful to my work. My poems are not currently available.

I received a Bachelor’s in Music Composition and a Minor in English Literature from Butler University where I studied composition with Frank Felice, James Aikman, Ronald Caltabiano, and Michael Schelle. I have studied harmony and counterpoint at the European American Musical Alliance in Paris, France where I studied composition with David Conte and Philip Lasser (among others). I also studied german language and literature at the Freie Universität in Berlin, Germany where I successfully completed level A1 and partially understood many german plays at the Berliner Ensemble as well as West Side Story in german (twice). In addition to composition, I enjoy non-fiction, instant coffee, musicals, handwritten letters, and bread-based foods.

Please contact me – harriet (at) harrietsteinke (.) com – to procure a 200-word cordial biography for professional purposes.