Alice Shields has created many electronic and computer works, operas and pieces for dance and voice, as well as chamber music. Recent works include Saundarya Lahari (2006) for flute, viola and harp, to be premiered by the Azure Ensemble in NYC in Fall, 2006; Kyrielle (2005) for violin and computer music, commissioned and performed by violinist Airi Yoshioka at venues including Conservatorio Piacenza, Piacenza, Italy on September 11, 2005; Mioritza — Requiem for Rachel Corrie (2004) for trombone and computer music, commissioned and performed by trombonist Monique Buzzarté at venues including the International Trombone Festival, New Orleans, at Loyola University on May 26, 2005; Azure for flute, violin, viola, cello and computer music on tape (2003), which was commissioned and premiered by the Azure Ensemble, April 10, 2003 in Merkin Hall, NYC; The Mud Oratorio (2003), computer music commissioned by Dance Alloy and Frostburg State University with support from Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, which premiered April 4-6, 2003 at Frostburg State University;
the computer piece Shenandoah (2002), for James Madison University, funded by the National Choreography Initiative; the computer piece Dust (2001) for Dance Alloy of Pittsburgh and the Arangham Dance Theatre of Madras, India, which toured India in 2002; the electronic operas Apocalypse (1994; CRI Records), "Shaman" (1987) and Mass for the Dead (1993) both premiered by the American Chamber Opera Company, and the electronic dance-drama Shivatanz (1993) premiered by the Akademie der Künste in Berlin. In 2004 Albany Records released the CD Shenandoah: Three Electronic Works by Alice Shields (TROY699). Komachi at Sekidera (1999) for soprano, alto flute and koto, adapted from a Japanese Noh play about the woman poet Komachi, has been released on CD by Koch International Classics (KOCH 7503), and other works are recorded on New World Records, CRI, and Opus One. Shields is currently writing an opera commissioned by librettist Nancy Dean, based on Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde.
Unique among classical composers, Shields has been a professional opera singer, performing traditional and modern roles at the New York City Opera (Monteverdi's Ulisse), the Opera Society of Washington, D.C. (Wagner's Walküre), the Clarion Opera Society in Italy (Cavalli's Giasone), and the Wolf Trap Opera (Mozart's Idomeneo). Since 1991 she has performed Nattuvangam (South Indian rhythmic recitation) for Bharata Natyam dance-drama at Wesleyan University, Julliard School, the Asia Society, and the American Museum of Natural History, and since 1996 has studied Hindustani raga singing with the Bangladeshi singer Marina Ahmed Alam, herself a student of the internationally-known singer Pandit Jasraj.
All Shields' recent compositions reflect her immersion in Indian classical music and dance. Her computer piece Dust (2001) is composed in Indian ragas with rhythmic patterns from traditional Indian dance-drama (Bharata Natyam). Commissioned by Dance Alloy of Pittsburgh and choreographed by Mark Taylor of Dance Alloy and Anita Ratnam of Arangham Dance Theatre of Madras, India, Dust premiered in Pittsburgh in May, 2001, with repeat performances in Sept., 2001, and in March, 2002 at Longwood Gardens and at Swarthmore College. Shields' works which use Indian classical techniques include Kirtannam for Flute and Oboe (2002), composed in Todi raga, which was premiered April, 2002 at Cambridge University, England, at the Centre for Intercultural Music Arts International Festival. She has been awarded grants by the National College Choreography Initiative (NEA; 2001), the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust for Music, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, CAPS, the National Opera Institute, the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music, the Presser Foundation, and the Open Meadows Foundation (2005).
Reviewers have said the following about Shields' music:
"...a fascinating exploration of the melismatic voice... a startling extension of the consciousness of India, in an equally startling Western opera of the seen and unseen..." — SRUTI, India
"...The Transformation of Ani struck me as decisive. Here the electronic medium serves as a highly responsive background for a chanted text from the Egyptian Book of the Dead; the spatial drama of the piece seems a genuine extension of electronic possibilities..." — FANFARE
"...From the opening darkness to shrieks to distant cries in the wilderness, it holds the listener spellbound. Shields exudes integrity, originality, and courage." — MUSICAL AMERICA
Alice Shields received the Doctor of Musical Arts in music composition from Columbia University, studied European classical voice with the soprano Helen Merritt, Hindustani classical voice with Marina Ahmed Alam, and Nattuvangam (South Indian rhythmic recitation) with Swati Bhise and briefly with T.S.Kadhirvellu.
She has been awarded grants by the National College Choreography Initiative (NEA; 2001), the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust for Music, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, CAPS, the National Opera Institute, the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music, and the Presser Foundation.
Shields has held a number of academic positions, including Assistant Professor of Psychology at New York University, teaching The Psychology of Music; Associate Director for Development of the Columbia University Computer Music Center; and Associate Director of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. She has served as grant reviewer in music composition for the New York Foundation for the Arts, CAPS, and as grant reviewer in the psychology of music for the National Science Foundation.
Shields' recent lectures include: the Santa Fe Opera, July 25, 2002 as panel moderator for "Electronic Media and the Voice" with panelists Kaija Saariaho, Mort Subotnick and Gershon Kingsley. At the Santa Fe Opera on July 27, 2002, as lecturer on "Breathing Patterns and the Voice." In July, 2001 Shields lectured at the Santa Fe Opera on "How Music Communicates Emotion." Other lectures on the psychology of music have taken place at the Center for Developmental Neuroscience of the City University of New York; the International Society for Research on Emotion International Conference; the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis National Convention, NYC (keynote panel and lecture); and at the American Psychological Association National Convention, New Orleans. Parade of American Music Composer’s Award, Michael Hennagin Memorial Scholarship, Robberton Travel Grant, Fresno New Music Festival Guest Composer, University of Oklahoma Graduate Research Award, and grants from the American Music Center and University of Oklahoma. He has been active since 1981 as an arranger, piano soloist, sideman and combo leader. Notable engagements include long-running jazz trio gigs at the Seoul Hyatt; keyboardist and arranger for Harriet LeGrant from 1988-90; and keyboardist and arranger for The Great Scott Band in Asbury Park, NJ (1991-1993), and staff arranger US Army Bands based in Alabama, Washington State, New Jersey and Korea (1986-1995).
For more Information visit www.aliceshields.com