Discipline: Music Composition

Frank Carlberg

Discipline: Music Composition
Region: Brooklyn, NY
MacDowell Fellowships: 2015, 2019, 2023

Originally a native of Helsinki, Finland, Frank Carlberg has carved himself quite a niche in the New York jazz community.

He is a founding member of the Douglass Street Music Collective and runs Red Piano Records, an independent record label with a current catalogue of over 50 releases. As a leader, or co-leader Carlberg has released over 20 albums. His groups include the Frank Carlberg Quintet, performing a wide variety of texts by Finnish, American, Russian, Argentine and Indian poets; the Tivoli Trio, a classic jazz piano trio playing an eclectic mix of Carlberg’s compositions drawn from cinematic and circus inspirations; and the Frank Carlberg Large Ensemble, performing original compositions, arrangements, and re-compositions of standards and folk materials. In addition to his own bands, he has been involved in many crossover projects. Some of his most notable collaborations include those with saxophonist Steve Lacy, trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler. His will perform his upcoming release, Elegy to Thelonious (Sunnyside Records) at J@LC early 2024.

He has been commissioned to write music for big bands, small ensembles, symphony orchestras, and modern dance companies, and has written close to 200 songs to texts by contemporary poets. In addition to his playing and composing activities Carlberg also serves on the faculty at New England Conservatory. Carlberg has received grants and fellowships from Bates College, Svenska Kulturfonden, NEA, Chamber Music America, Government of Finland, Music America, and others.

At MacDowell in 2015, Carlberg completed a suite for large jazz ensemble and a 10-part song cycle for voice and piano with poetry by Alejandra Pizarnik. He also started a song cycle for jazz quintet, projected to be in eight parts. In 2019, he completed three pieces for large jazz ensemble and made progress on three more. He also composed several songs with poems by Alejandra Pizarnik, Robert Creeley and Anselm Hollo. During his 2023 MacDowell Fellowship, he worked on a new set of large jazz orchestra pieces.

Recent album releases include Reflections 1952 on 577 Records and Los Trabajos Y Las Noches on Latin Sony (which includes pieces composed at MacDowell). Carlberg also recently performed his original music for large ensemble at Jazz at Lincoln Center.



Frank Carlberg 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 with room for performance, Watson was used as a recital hall for chamber music for a…

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