Kala Pierson is a composer and sound/media artist. Her music is fluid and kinetic, focused on gesture and momentum rather than steady rhythms. Its "seductive textures and angular harmonies" (Washington Post) are "intricately structured, both mathematical and lyrical" (Dnevnik).
In 2008 and 2009, her work was performed and installed in France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, the U.K., and more than twenty U.S. cities; in festivals including Musica Viva, Contemporanea (Citta di Udine), Spark, and Canaan Downs; and in venues ranging from a forest to a medieval fortress to the World Financial Center Winter Garden. In fall 2009, as a finalist for the Kraft Media Prize, her piece Shahida was heard at the Smithsonian Institution's Hirshhorn Gallery.
U.S.-born and NYC-based, she focuses on multi-country projects and collaborations. Since 2004, her Axis of Beauty project has collected texts by living Middle Eastern writers, combining these texts with both notated music and audio/installations, in an ongoing response to "Axis of Evil" wartime propaganda. Her site-specific audio installation series Singing Stones will travel in Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands. She co-founded Summer in Sombor, an international composition seminar held each July since 2007 in northern Serbia. She has collaborated as a live laptop performer in contexts ranging from a Wii-controlled improvisation in the NYC Electronic Music Festival to a networked performance by artists in four countries in the 15th ISEA (International Symposium on Electronic Art).
She has been an Artist in Residence at Tribeca Performing Arts Center and a resident composer in the Composers and the Voice series at American Opera Projects. Her commissions include those from Queens University Belfast and the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (U.K.), for audio installed in a permanent interactive exhibit at the University; and from Composers Collaborative (U.S.), for a 20-minute work for string quartet and voice in the Non Sequitur Festival.
Born in 1977, she studied at Eastman School of Music (with Joseph Schwantner, Augusta Read Thomas, David Liptak and Robert Morris), where she held a George Eastman Scholarship; Bard College at Simon's Rock, where she won the Dean's Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts; and Tanglewood Institute/BUTI. At Eastman, she also played in the Balinese gamelan, sang in the Eastman Chorale, and co-founded the new-music groups Ossia and Alarm Will Sound. Later, she co-founded the South Oxford Six composers' collective. She has taught, led workshops, read at conferences, and published in music journals in the U.S. and Germany; and for two years, she taught media and web design in Fordham University's journalism program at Lincoln Center.
In both 2008 and 2009, she was shortlisted for a Sorel Medallion (Voices of Ascension / Carnegie Hall). Her recent awards and residency invitations include Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the German Ministry of Culture, Meet the Composer, Wildacres, Hedgebrook, the Visiting Artists program of the American Academy in Rome, COAHSI, NGCSA, and the Gregg Smith Singers biennial composition prize. Her notated music has been performed by American Opera Projects, San Francisco Choral Artists (as winner of their New Voices competition), Cantate Chamber Singers (as winner of their Composition Competition), Momenta Quartet, Nurse Kaya Sextet, Season Quartet, the Baltimore Choral Arts Society Young Composers Project with Toby Twining's group Mouth Music, New York Miniaturist Ensemble, and the Tanglewood Young Artists Chorus; and by some of New York's most visible new-music soloists and duos. Her media work (beyond audio-alone) has been exhibited at the Seattle Center on Contemporary Art, Richmond Art Gallery and other venues; and her editing and mixing credits include recordings on Cantaloupe Records and Nonesuch/Atlantic.