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Christina Rusnak

Composer / Portland Oregon
Member since April 2021
Passionate about composing about place and the human experience, Christina Rusnak integrates context into her music from the world around her. Working at the intersection of music, landscape and culture, she composes thought provoking music to engage both the performers and the audience. Ms. Rusnak’s repertoire includes choral, vocal, chamber, wind band, orchestra, jazz, and multi-media works. An advocate for New Music, she serves on the board of the International Alliance for Women in Music. Her works are available from Amazon, Naxos and Parma Recordings, with her scores available through her website. Learn more: http://christinarusnak.com

My Style

All over the map. In general my music is lyrical and contrapuntal. The context of the piece itself dictates the style.

Active Projects

Featured Compositions

Listen to works by Christina Rusnak

now playing

The South Pass

Chamber Orchestra 2 (P), 2 (EH), 2 (BsCl), 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, Timp, 3 Percussion, Strings. Level 5
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Duration: ~ 13:20 Historians speculate that without Euro-Americans’ “discovery” of the South Pass, the Pacific Northwest would likely have been permanently claimed by the British and the southern part of the continent would have remained part of Mexico. The piece focuses on the nexus of the landscape’s meaning, its physical environment, and the human interaction with that landscape on the long arduous journey westward up to the pass, the respite at the top, and the long descent down to the Green River Basin below. (mp3 is midi file)
now playing

Passage (Orchestra

Full Orchestra: 2(P), 2(E), 2(B), 2/, 4, 2, 2, 1/, Timp, Perc (3), Hp, Strings
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Duration: ~ 13:30 Passage was composed without an external impetus, originally for piano. A single movement work, the piece is derived, somewhat organically, from the original musical material itself. Two minutes in, two additional melodic motives emerged, which interweaved into a two-minute prelude. These elements assert themselves as secondary motives throughout the piece. Passage in full colorful form for symphonic wind band remains true to the original piano version, while fleshing out its musical elements, explored through the instrumental palette.
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Hyas Tyee Təmwata

Wind Ensemble; Level 4-5
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Duration: ~ 7:15 Hyas Tyee Təmwata (Willamette Falls) Oregon was second only to Niagara Falls in the envisioned United States. This landscape had been portrayed as North America’s Eden. This was the end point of the Oregon Trail – the destination that nearly half a million people strove to reach. Prior to settlement, this place flourished as a major fishery, with a thriving society of people living in semi-permanent villages. This piece is emotional with symbiotic yet conflicting sets of tonality, integrating a 21stcentury lens on a Historic Trail that is both one of the most revered and yet troubling and controversial.
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Passage for Wind Band

Full Wind Band - Level 5
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Duration: ~ 13/30 Originally written for piano, this single movement is derived, somewhat organically, from the original musical material. Although the original motive doesn't emerge until two minutes into the piece. In working on the piece, two additional melodic motives emerged, which interweaved into a two-minute prelude. These elements assert themselves as secondary motives throughout the piece. Passage in full colorful form for symphonic wind band remains true to the original piano version, while fleshing out its musical elements, explored through the instrumental palette.
now playing

The Coast in Winter

Grade 1-2 Concert Band with Grade 4 Viola Solo
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Duration: ~ 3:30 The Coast in Winter, is composed for Grade 1-2 Wind Band and Grade 3-4 Viola soloist. Composed for the Building Bridges program of Leading Tones Music, the opportunity to pair the viola with the wind band provided a unique piece in the literature. After a weekend along the coast in late winter, the skeleton of the piece arrived a few weeks later. The music rises and falls. Whether it’s a walk on the cold and windy beach, watching waves crash against rocks, exploring icy caves along the shore, or curling up with a good book, the coast in winter is a special place.
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Pine Meadow

Percussion Quartet
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Pine Meadow focuses on the rhythms and timbres of this place, of rural life in a western state.
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Fanfare for Justice

French Horn Quartet
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The impetus for Fanfare for Justice , evolved out of the repeated senseless deaths of black people. As artists, we are often compelled to do more than join others on the streets, or to put a sign in the front yard. Silence is complicity. Music is my voice. Most of the piece is created from the syllabic /and or timbral elements of the words and names shouted during the protest marches. Originally commissioned as a solo, this piece emphasizes the many voices joined together to spread the message.
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Water & Stone

Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Percussion 
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The vastness of the seemingly barren landscape of Death Valley National Park enveloped me as I drove through. My residency in late Winter 2020 offered me a rare glimpse of this diverse and amazing landscape. A big storm had passed through the park two days prior to my arrival resulting in a chain of lakes on the valley floor, reflecting the sky and canyon walls.  Renowned for its hot and dry climate, water has shaped this landscape. Its sculpting is visible on every cliff face and along every path. Ephemeral flows and pools of water enable a broad ecosystem of plants and animals to survive. Leading the listener on a journey of time, Water and Stone explores the nature of water in shaping this stark and beautiful place.
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Dune

Flute, Clarinet, Violin and Cello
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The Kelso Dunes are renowned for their moaning song – a sound similar to a section of low cellos or string basses forcefully wailing. This is one of only a few places in the world where this phenomenon occurs. On hot sunny days, as the wind whips, or as people playfully slide down, the hot dry top layer of sand rubs against the lower cooler layer of sand.
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Dusk Quartet

Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Marimba
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Dusk, like an actual sunset, is about the transformation of color over time. The piece does not exude complexity, or sophisticated technique, but requires the performers to understand and execute the art of nuance. Vibrantly intense, the piece explores shifting polytonal harmonies, marked time and fluid melodies.
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