Discipline: Music Composition

Andrea Clearfield

Discipline: Music Composition
Region: Philadelphia
MacDowell fellowships: 2005, 2009, 2011, 2014, 2021

Creating deep, emotive musical languages that build cultural and artistic bridges, the music of Andrea Clearfield is performed widely in the U.S. and abroad. She has written 150 works for chorus, orchestra, opera, chamber ensembles, dance, and multimedia collaborations on themes ranging from ancient cultures to environmental and social issues. Recent compositions are inspired by Tibetan music fieldwork that she conducted in the Nepalese Himalaya. Among her works are 12 cantatas including Kabo Omowale (Welcome Home Child) commissioned and premiered by The Philadelphia Orchestra and Tse Go La (At the threshold of this life), co-commissioned by The Mendelssohn Club and the Pennsylvania Girlchoir. She has been awarded a 2016 Pew Fellowship in the Arts, two Independence Foundation Fellowships and residencies at the Bellagio Center, American Academy in Rome, MacDowell, Yaddo, Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, Ucross, Copland House, and others. She was appointed the Steven R. Gerber Composer-in-Residence with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia for their 2018-19 season. The residency included the commission and premiere of her electric guitar concerto, GLOW at the Kimmel Center in March, 2019. Her first opera, MILA, Great Sorcerer was presented in a semi-staged production in January, 2019 at the acclaimed NYC Prototype Festival. Set to libretto by Jean-Claude van Itallie and Lois Walden, and composed and orchestrated in part at MacDowell, it tells the story of the venerated 11th Century Tibetan saint, Milarepa who transforms from mass murderer into Tibet’s most beloved teacher. Praised by the press as “mystical and dramatically compelling,” “highly recommended,” “colorful, expressive score,” “lush and rich,” “a sonic exultation with lasting power,” and “the most accomplished and mature of this year’s compositions [Prototype Festival], the opera was commissioned by Gene Kaufman and Terry Eder and directed by Kevin Newbury. Passionate for building community around the arts, Andrea is also founder, curator, and host of the renowned Philadelphia Salon, featuring contemporary, classical, jazz, electronic, dance, world music, and multi-media collaborations, now celebrating its 33rd year. She also curates and hosts other Salons around the country. Her choral music is published by Boosey & Hawkes, G. Schirmer, Hal Leonard, and Seeadot and recorded on the Bridge, Sony, Innova, MSR, Albany, Blue Griffen, and Crystal labels. She is currently composer-in-residence with National Concerts at Carnegie Hall, and is working on eight commissions for 2019-2020 which include large-scale cantatas, chamber works, and recording projects. She sits on the board of the Recording Academy/Grammy’s Philadelphia Chapter.

At MacDowell in 2021, she completed the choral score and began the orchestration for Singing into Presence, a 20 min. cantata for chorus and orchestra on the theme of the pandemic, commissioned by the University of New Mexico to poetry by Catherine O'Meara for premiere on May 7, 2022, at UNM, Albuquerque. Clearfield also completed a rough draft of Beyond the Binary (a meditation on humans and machines), a multimedia oratorio commissioned by the Mendelssohn Chorus for premiere on May 15, 2022, at the Fillmore Theater in Philadelphia, PA. The work is set to libretto by Ellen Frankel with original amplified instruments by David Kontak and celebrates and reflects on the centennial of R.U.R. (Rossom's Universal Robots by Czech playwright Karel Capek) that brings the word "robot" to our vocabulary. Clearfield also completed a rough draft of Home in Me Heart/Mind the third part of a trilogy on "what is home" for premiere at Carnegie Hall on June 11, 2022, by the National Treble Chorus, presented by National Concerts and commissioned by a consortium of treble choirs nationwide.

Studios

Watson

Andrea Clearfield worked in the Watson studio.

Built in 1916 in memory of Regina Watson of Chicago, a musician and teacher, this studio was donated by a group of her friends, along with funds for its maintenance. Originally designed to serve as a composers’ studio and recital hall for chamber music, the latter purpose was soon found to be too disruptive to…

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