Composer ABBIE BETINIS (b. 1980) has loved experimenting with sound since age 3, when her parents – singing in the car – heard an excited squeal from the backseat: “I can hold my own hawmony!”
Now her music is acclaimed as “inventive, richly melodic” (The New York Times), “the highlight… pushes forward a brooding, dissonant unease” (Boston Globe), and “extraordinary music by a greatly gifted young composer” (Chicago Classical Review). Her catalog of nearly sixty commissioned works includes projects for the American Suzuki Foundation, Cantus, Dale Warland Singers, James Sewell Ballet, The Rose Ensemble, Young New Yorkers’ Chorus, and Zeitgeist.
A language enthusiast with a penchant for research, Abbie’s work has explored early American shape-note singing, Chinese compassion mantras, ancient Greek binding spells, Gaelic keening, Japanese origami, and – in an extended piece for women’s voices with cello, oud, and Persian hand drums – the mysticism of 14th c. Sufism. In 2014, she was selected for Nautilus Music-Theater’s Composer-Librettist Studio, where five composers and five librettists study the art of collaboration by creating new songs every two days. A few months later, she co-created the ballet, Ribcage, with soprano Carrie Henneman Shaw, electric guitarist Jesse Langen, and the James Sewell Ballet. In 2015, she worked with poet Michael Dennis Browne to create an origami-inspired piece entitled A Blessing of Cranes for the American Choral Directors Association’s Commission Consortium.
A 2009 McKnight Composer Fellow, Abbie has also received the American Composers Forum’s Subito and Encore grants, Craig and Janet Swan Composer Prize, Esoterics’ Polyphonos Young Composer Prize, and awards from Donne in Musica (Italy), Minnesota Music Educators Association, and New York’s Sorel Organization, among others. In 2011, she was selected by NPR Music and New York’s WQXR Public Radio in their list of “100 Composers Under 40.” Her song cycle “Nattsanger (Nightsongs)” for soprano, clarinet and piano won an Honorable Mention in ASCAP’s Morton Gould Young Composer Awards and is released on the Naxos label.
Minnesota Public Radio has recorded and produced Abbie’s annual Christmas carol since 2001, and National Public Radio and Public Radio International have aired her music in performances by the Dale Warland Singers, Philadelphia Singers and The Rose Ensemble. Abbie is one of the artists profiled in the Twin Cities Public Television documentary “Never Stop Singing,” which won an Upper Midwest Regional Emmy Award.
Abbie’s music is published by Graphite Publishing, Hal Leonard, Kjos, in G. Schirmer’s Dale Warland Series, and by her own venture, Abbie Betinis Music Co, which she founded in 2006 to distribute her sheet music internationally straight from her studio in Saint Paul. A strong proponent of small business and cooperative models, she is co-founder of the Independent Music Publishers Cooperative and was voted in as its president in 2012. Through her cross-marketing campaigns with these seven other small publishers, Abbie’s music was performed last year in 14 countries on five continents, totaling nearly 400 performances.
This summer, Abbie will be a resident composer at the Zodiac Music Festival in the French Alps, where she will be working on a new piece with the Zodiac Trio. Other upcoming projects include a new piece for clarinetist Michael Collins on The Schubert Club’s 2015-2016 International Artist Series.
A graduate of the Suzuki piano program in her hometown of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, Abbie holds a B.A. in music from St. Olaf College, M.A. in music composition from the University of Minnesota, and has done post-graduate work in Paris, France on scholarship from the European American Musical Alliance, where she studied harmony and counterpoint in the tradition of Nadia Boulanger with Philip Lasser and Narcis Bonet.
Abbie lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she is Adjunct Professor of Composition at Concordia University, Composer-in-Residence for The Schubert Club, and the newest member of the doo-wop quartet The Fairlanes, where she sings high tenor.
She is a three-time cancer survivor.
Mini Bio: (75 words)
Composer Abbie Betinis (b.1980) writes music called “inventive, richly melodic” (The New York Times) and “superb… whirling, soaring” (Tacoma News Tribune). A recent McKnight Artist Fellow, and listed in NPR Music’s “100 Composers Under Forty,” she has written over 50 commissioned pieces and has been composer-in-residence with The Schubert Club, The Rose Ensemble and The Singers–Minnesota Choral Artists. She lives in Minnesota, where she is adjunct professor of composition at Concordia University-St Paul.