Elisabeth Blair is a poet, podcaster, composer and multidisciplinary artist. After earning a BA in photography in 2004, she spent many years on the singer/songwriter circuit in Chicago before moving into both free improvisation and formal composition. She received a Specialist Certificate in Music Composition for Film and TV from Berklee in 2015, and from 2015-17 studied music composition part-time at Western Michigan University, working with Lisa Coons and Christopher Biggs.
Poetry forms an important part of her creative practice and a chapbook of her poems, We He She/It, was published in 2016 by Dancing Girl Press. Her poems have been or will be published in a variety of journals including Feminist Studies, cream city review, Acumen Literary Journal, and S/tick.
In the last three years she has been an artist-in-residence at Wildacres, ACRE and the Atlantic Center for the Arts (on two occasions, working with improviser Karl Berger and poet Heather McHugh, respectively). In 2017 she was a participant composer at the Toronto Creative Music Lab and was composer-in-residence at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts.
An active feminist, she is on the board of the International Alliance for Women in Music and is the founder and director of Listening to Ladies, a podcast featuring interviews with women composers, and Compass New Music, a concert series showcasing the music of all those whose gender identities mean they do not benefit from the patriarchy.
Elisabeth is on the board of the International Alliance for Women in Music (IAWM) and is the founder and director of Listening to Ladies, a podcast that showcases women composers. Since its debut on September 26, 2016, it has been broadcast on FM radio stations ranging from Kalamazoo to Vienna. She has been interviewed by both the @Percussion and Lexical Tones podcasts, and hosted Musochat (an informal Twitter discussion) in December 2016 on the theme of gender equity in classical music. Two concerts in Kalamazoo, MI were organized and produced by her, featuring the ensembles Admiral Launch Duo and Latitude 49. In 2017 so far she has administered two calls-for-scores, the first in collaboration with Vent Nouveau, a brass/wind collective in NY state, for a concert which she helped produce on April 1st in New York City; and the second in collaboration with Ctrl-Z, a live performative electronics ensemble for a performance in fall 2017. This last call for scores is occurring under the name of Compass New Music, a concert production project focused on highlighting music by all those whose gender identities mean they do not benefit from the patriarcy.
She has given talks about gender equity in classical music to the gender studies department at Western Michigan University and to the Arts Entrepreneurship class at Kalamazoo College, and was a member of the panel on Inclusivity in New Music at the 2017 New Music Gathering.
Her writing and interviews on the topics of equity and diversity in music composition have appeared in Second Inversion and VAN Classical Music Magazine.
TEACHING & COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
Elisabeth was a participant in the 2013 Creative Aging Training Institute in New York City, and was honored to work from 2013-14 as the Life Enrichment Coordinator for an assisted living facility in Bay City, MI, working with older adults and those with dementia. From 2013-2017 she was a volunteer with the Virtual Senior Center, a nonprofit based in New York City that provides ongoing education to housebound older adults via touchscreen computers. Through the VSC she taught many arts/culture classes ranging from the history of graffiti to biographies of Victorian women composers. In May 2017 she taught a class on songwriting to 7th grade students at the Flint Public Library, and is currently building a private lesson studio, with the aim of teaching music composition, songwriting, interdisciplinary arts, and free improvisation to students with a wide range of ages and abilities.
We He She/It, a chapbook of her poems, is available from Dancing Girl Press. Individual poems have appeared in various print and online journals including Lady Lazarus Journal, Eunoia, S/tick, Wicked Alice, Dead Flowers: A Poetry Rag, The Literary Bohemian, Lilliput Review, and Acumen Literary Journal. Forthcoming poems will appear in Feminist Studies, Brickplight, Right Hand Pointing, and Ovenbird. In 2017 she returned to the Atlantic Center for the Arts as an artist-in-residence to work with poet Heather McHugh. She is currently working on a full-length book, a memoir in poetry form about being forcibly institutionalized as a young adult.
Elisabeth has written lyrics for composers Sam Boshnack and Andrew Davis, as well as for magician Christopher Howell.
CLASSICAL & NEW MUSIC
Elisabeth studied classical voice for two years (2004-06) under Bruce Tammen. She was the private student of composer Kevin Ure from 2013-15 and in 2015 was accepted as a composer-in-residence at Wildacres. In June 2017 she was a participant composer at the Toronto Creative Music Lab, and in November 2017 she will be a composer-in-residence at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. Her formal education includes two years of graduate study in music composition at Western Michigan University working with composers Lisa Coons and Christopher Biggs, with additional lessons with Ingrid Stölzel and Robert Carl.
Recent commissions include "Mobilize" for carillonist Tiffany Ng, which during the summer of 2017 has been touring Europe including a performance at Berlin's Tiergarten; a solo piano piece for pianist/composer Justin Ortez to be debuted in the Fall of 2017; and a piece for vocal ensemble Sotto Voce Vocal Collective debuting in the Spring of 2018. She will also be writing a piece for Canadian chamber group Ensemble Atlantica in 2018.
In 2015 Elisabeth obtained a Specialist Certificate in Music Composition for Film and TV, through Berklee. She has been composing and producing stage music for London-based magician Christopher Howell for many years, and produces music for other performing artists and artist groups. She has written and produced music for several theatre projects in Chicago.
Elisabeth performed as lead vocalist and improviser in several pieces by performance artists Robert Metrick and Carole McCurdy, in venues including the Chicago Cultural Center and Chicago’s Links Hall. In 2015 Elisabeth was an Associate Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, working with improviser/composer Karl Berger and vocalist/poet Ingrid Sertso. In 2017 while at the Atlantic Center for the Arts a second time, she created a group informally known as the Improv Poetry Orchestra and combined live improvisatory written poetry, projected on a screen, with live improvised music. You may see examples of that here.
She has also collaborated extensively on improv-based projects with composer/improviser Jeff Morris.
FOLK & SINGER-SONGWRITER
As a singer-songwriter she performed widely throughout Chicago and London between 2007-2011, and released several self-produced albums, most notably her debut album Country of Origin.
In 2008 she co-wrote and performed a musical, A Soldier Of Three Wars, based on the memoirs of an obscure 19th century soldier, at the Peter Jones Gallery in Chicago. In 2012 she produced a song for Chicago-based performance artists Industry of the Ordinary, which was featured in their 10-year retrospective exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center.
In addition to her own songs, she has performed classical, bluegrass, and traditional folk music. From 2006-07 she was a guest vocalist for many live shows and appears on the debut album of Chicago-based eco-bluegrass group The Giving Tree Band. She co-formed a folk noir band called House & Bird (2007-08) which put out a 5-song EP, what do words know.
In 2016, Elisabeth was an artist-in-residence at ACRE in Wisconsin, to workshop songs written by composer Andrew Davis for which she is vocalist.
MUSIC FOR CHILDREN
In 2010 she wrote, recorded and produced an album for kids, a collaboration with London-based magician Christopher Howell.
She received a BA in Art, Design & Media with a focus on Photography & Lens Media in 2004 from Richmond International University in London.
She draws, paints, and occasionally animates. In 2012 she was selected as an Artist-in-Residence with Chicago Detours. Her drawings were featured in the Fall 2015 issue of S/tick feminist zine.