/ Hoboken, NJ
Member since July 2019
Karen has completed 1
project with Consortio
Described as “colorful and at times groovy” (WQXR.org), Karen Siegel’s innovative music draws on her experience as a versatile vocalist. Her works are frequently performed by the New York City-based ensemble C4: the Choral Composer/Conductor Collective, which she co-founded in 2005. Her choral work "Saguaro" was recorded by C4 and released on the album Volume 1: Uncaged in 2013. "Why Do We Love Our Guns," her work for treble choir, was recorded by Tonality and released on the album Sing About It in 2019. Karen’s opera The Hat: Arendt Meets Heidegger was premiered by the Thompson Street Opera Company in 2019. Her works are published by See-A-Dot Music Publishing, self-published through Chestnutoak Press, and distributed in the Justice Choir Songbook. Please find more at http://KarenSiegel.com/.
My choral music encompasses a wide range of styles and difficulty levels, but what all my works have in common is that they are rhythmically exciting, with melodies that are enjoyable to sing. When composing, I think about the experience of the singers and the conductor, so that the alto line is engaging and the notation is conducive to smooth rehearsals. I work creatively with texts, often juxtaposing multiple texts, creating a text from compiling found sources, or setting original poetry. I like to focus on topics that are relevant to today’s world, often with a social justice theme.
Listen to works by Karen Siegel
This arrangement of Joseph Brackett’s well-known Shaker song “Simple Gifts” draws on the Shakers’ history as an immigrant group to the colonial United States with the addition of a new second verse and chorus. It emphasizes the second clause in the opening line, that it’s a gift to be free, and it elaborates on the idea of being in “the place just right,” expressing gratitude for our communities and emphasizing the importance of showing kindness to the newly arrived stranger. I have taken many rhythmic liberties with Brackett’s song, in addition to fragmenting and layering the tune, but it is still recognizable as the song that is as quintessentially American as the idea of freedom itself. To Be Free is the winner of the 2018 Yale Glee Club Emerging Composers Competition, and was premiered by the Yale Glee Club with artistic director Jeffrey Douma November 9, 2018.
Blessing sets an English translation of the Birkat Kohanim, or Priestly blessing, a Jewish prayer for God’s blessing and for peace. A variation of this blessing is also recited in some Christian traditions. Blessing alternates between homophonic, straightforward statements and layering of aleatoric repetitions over sustained chords. As congregants in a synagogue, or individuals in any faith community, the voices are heard both as unique and with the strength of the whole. Blessing was commissioned by the Te Deum Chamber Choir, with artistic director Matthew Christopher Shepard, and premiered in October 2018.
Why Do We Love Our Guns?
SA a cappella
Why Do We Love Our Guns? is a work for treble chorus (2017), featured on Tonality’s 2019 album, “Sing About It.” The phrase “Why do we love our guns more than our neighbors?” gradually unfolds and repeats, in a driving rhythm. In only two parts, it is an experiment in creating powerful music through simple ingredients.
SSATBB a cappella
Like clouds, the harmony in Clouds Ephemeral shifts in and out of clear forms, simultaneously in constant motion yet almost still. The rhythm also embodies this nebulous quality, constantly changing meter throughout most of the piece. It sets three texts—scientific names of clouds are heard throughout, while cloud definitions layer underneath, chant-like in the men. An original poem layers over the cloud names, in a slow, graceful melody sung by the women. Clouds Ephemeral was commissioned by The Esoterics, with founding director Eric Banks. It is a result of winning their 2014-2015 POLYPHONOS Composition Competition in the National Composer category.