Our Composers

Abbie Betinis 


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 holded my own hawmony!” Now her catalog of over 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 enjoys exploring the world through music, leading her to incorporate into her projects elements from 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.

Abbie also enjoys the collaborative process. After completing Nautilus Music-Theater’s Composer-Librettist Studio, where five composers and five librettists study the art of collaboration, she co-created the ballet Ribcage with soprano Carrie Henneman Shaw, electric guitarist Jesse Langen, and the James Sewell Ballet. She and poet Michael Dennis Browne have also recently worked together to create an origami-inspired piece entitled A Blessing of Cranes for the American Choral Directors Association’s Commission Consortium.

A two-time McKnight Artist 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 co-founded the Independent Music Publishers Cooperative (IMP) in 2012, and served as its president for its first four years. Through cross-marketing campaigns with IMP’s other small publishers, Abbie’s music was performed last year on five continents, totaling over 400 performances.

In 2015, Abbie was a resident composer at the Zodiac Music Festival in the French Alps, where she wrote for the Zodiac Trio. In 2016, clarinetist Michael Collins and pianist Michael McHale premiered her “Rhapsodos” on The Schubert Club’s International Artist Series in Saint Paul.

Abbie is a graduate of the Suzuki piano program in her hometown of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, 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.

A three-time cancer survivor, 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.

Evan Chambers


Evan Chambers (b 1963, Alexandria, Louisiana) is currently Professor of Composition at the University of Michigan.

His 2007 orchestral song cycle The Old Burying Ground was performed in Carnegie Hall in February 2008; a recording is is available on Dorian/Sono Luminous.

Chambers’ compositions have been performed by the Cincinnati, Kansas City, Memphis, New Hampshire, and Albany Symphonies; has also appeared as a soloist in Carnegie Hall with the American Composers Orchestra. He won first prize in the Cincinnati Symphony Competition, and in 1998 was awarded the Walter Beeler Prize by Ithaca College. His work has been recognized by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Luigi Russolo Competition, Vienna Modern Masters, NACUSA, the American Composers Forum, and the Tampa Bay Composers Forum. He has been a resident of the MacDowell Colony, and been awarded individual artist grants from Meet the Composer, the Arts Foundation of Michigan and ArtServe Michigan. His composition teachers include William Albright, Leslie Bassett, Nicholas Thorne, and Marilyn Shrude, with studies in electronic music with George Wilson and Burton Beerman. Recordings have been released by Albany Records, the Foundation Russolo-Pratella, Cambria, Clarinet Classics, Equillibrium, and Centaur. His solo chamber music disk (Cold Water, Dry Stone) is available on Albany records.

Roshanne Etezady


As a young musician, Roshanne studied piano and flute, and developed an interest in many different styles of music, from the musicals of Steven Sondheim to the 1980’s power ballads and Europop of her teenage years. One fateful evening evening in 1986, she saw Philip Glass and his ensemble perform as the musical guests on Saturday Night Live. This event marked the beginning of her interest in contemporary classical music, as well as her interest in being a composer herself.

Since then, Etezady’s works have been commissioned by the Albany Symphony, Dartmouth Symphony, eighth blackbird, Music at the Anthology, and the PRISM Saxophone Quartet. She has been a fellow at the Aspen Music Festival, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Performers and ensembles including Rêlache, Amadinda Percussion Ensemble, Ensemble De Ereprijs, and the Dogs of Desire have performed Etezady’s music throughout the United States and Europe. Roshanne Etezady’s music has earned recognition from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Korean Society of 21st Century Music, the Jacob K. Javits Foundation, Meet the Composer, and ASCAP.

An active teacher, Etezady has taught at the Interlochen Arts Camp, Yale University, Saint Mary’s College, and the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. She has given masterclasses at Holy Cross College, the Juilliard School, and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.

Etezady holds academic degrees from Northwestern University and Yale University, and she has worked intensively with numerous composers, including William Bolcom, Martin Bresnick, Michael Daugherty, and Ned Rorem. She completed her doctorate at the University of Michigan in March, 2005.

Lee Kesselman


Lee Kesselman has been Director of Choral Activities at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, a suburb of Chicago, since 1981. He is Founder and Music Director of the New Classic Singers, a professional choral ensemble. He also directs the DuPage Chorale and College of DuPage Chamber Singers. A native of Milwaukee, he holds undergraduate degrees in piano and composition from Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and a master’s degree in conducting from the University of Southern California. In addition to teaching and composing, Mr. Kesselman is active as a conductor, pianist, clinician and lecturer. He is music director for a variety of opera and musical theatre productions. Mr. Kesselman was chosen the Outstanding Faculty Member at the College of DuPage for 1994-95.

He has taught at Doreen Rao’s Choral Music Experience Institute since its inception in 1986. He has also taught in France for two summers on the faculty of the Académie International de Chant Choral in Parthenay. He has addressed state and divisional conventions of ACDA in sessions on repertoire and performance. Mr. Kesselman has accompanied many of Chicago’s finest singers in recital, including Maria Lagios, Robert Smith, Cynthia Anderson, and Donna Bruno. He has performed on the Talman Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts, the Live! From Studio One series on WFMT-FM in Chicago and conducted Argento’s Postcard from Morocco for OperaWorks! in Madison, Wisconsin. Mr. Kesselman is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (A.S.C.A.P.). He has received annual ASCAP awards for his works since 1994.

Mr. Kesselman has been honored as a composer with prizes in the Melodious Accord (New York) Composition Search, Chautauqua Chamber Singers Composition Contest, the Chautauqua Children’s Chorale Composition Contest and the Illinois Choral Directors’ Association Contest. Mr. Kesselman is best known as a composer of vocal works, including opera, music for chorus, and solo songs. Large works include the opera The Bremen Town Musicans (commissioned by Opera for the Young), The Emperor’s New Clothes (a choral opera), Love Phases for baritone voice and piano, Nights in Armor for mixed chorus, Shona Mass for voices and African percussion, and Infinity in the Palm of Your Hand, a symphony for treble chorus and orchestra. The Bremen Town Musicans has been performed over 300 times for Wisconsin and Illinois schoolchildren. Mr. Kesselman’s most recent works include Freedom Chimes for mixed chorus and concert band, Circle Songs for soprano, double bass and piano, and In terra aliena for mixed chorus.

Mr. Kesselman’s works for children have brought him national attention and he has been commissioned to write for children’s choirs, middle school, junior school, high school, college, community, church, and professional ensembles. Boosey & Hawkes, Roger Dean Music, Classic Artists Publishing, Lawson-Gould Music Publishers, Colla Voce and Plymouth Music Co have published Mr. Kesselman’s works. He also serves as an editor for Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers.

Mr. Kesselman lives in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and is the father of daughter Lindsay (soprano) and son, Robin (string bass).

Kieren MacMillan


Kieren enjoys an active musical career on both sides of the score.

As a composer and arranger, Kieren is regularly commissioned by artists and organizations around the world. His catalogue includes musicals, chamber operas, film and theatre scores, pieces for solo instruments and ensembles, vocal and choral works, spoken word compositions, and concert-length multidisciplinary works. Many of these have received feature performances at international music conventions and festivals, as well as broadcasts on national, regional, and internet radio. Numerous recordings are currently available on compact disc or for digital download.

Kieren’s musical dramas — seen by thousands of people throughout Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom — have been called “brilliant” (Mark Kanny, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review), “a new kind of musical theater…smart and moving” (Andy Druckenbrod, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), and “a new, stunning body of story and sound, that left me deeply satisfied and piqued” (Sequenza21). In additional to being perennial audience favourites, these works have garnered many critical awards, including Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Production for Young Audiences (NOW Magazine), Top Ten Concerts in Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2006 and 2008), and a Total Theatre Award nomination (Total Theatre Edinburgh).

Kieren is also in demand as a pianist, singer, and musical director, averaging over one hundred performances and appearances each year. Recent productions he has music directed include Robin Hood: The Legendary Musical Comedy (Hart House), West Side Story (Randolph Young Company), The Musical of Musicals: The Musical! (Ontario premiere, Gypsy Theatre/Bluewater Playhouse), Hats! (Canadian premiere, Stirling Festival Theatre), and The Great American Trailer Park Musical (Toronto premiere, Hart House Theatre). For the past four years, Kieren has been co-creator and Music Director for the holiday panto at Stirling Festival Theatre, seen live by over ten thousand people annually.

In addition to private vocal coaching, Kieren has been on the faculty of many vocal and choral festivals and camps (StArt Youth Presenting Art Festival, New York State Summer School for the Arts), has been invited to give guest lectures and lessons at several universities and colleges in Canada and the U.S., and was the inaugural Keynote Speaker at the University of Colorado–Boulder’s Entrepreneurship Center for Music. Currently, he is a faculty member at Toronto’s Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts.

Kieren received his B.Mus. at the University of British Columbia, and his M.Mus. from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, where he studied with Paul Cooper and Samuel Jones. He now lives in Toronto with his wife Lada Darewych, and their two children Marianna and Theodore.

Jon Magnussen


Jon Magnussen’s music for the concert hall, drama, and dance has been commissioned by organizations including American Ballet Theatre, The Juilliard School, Limón Dance Company, New Juilliard Ensemble, Ebb and Flow Arts, The Shakespeare Theatre (Washington, D.C.), Symphony San Jose Silicon Valley and James Goldworthy’s New Works for Young Pianists Commissioning Project, and his music has been supported by organizations including the Argosy Foundation, Aaron Copland Fund for New Music Recording Program, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Library of Congress, Meet the Composer, and National Endowment for the Arts.

As conductor, Magnussen has led performances of his own work at the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympic Arts Festival, Los Angeles’ Royce Hall, and Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, and his music has been performed by organizations including the American Composers Orchestra, The Juilliard Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, American Ballet Theatre Orchestra, the New Juilliard Ensemble, Riverside Chorus and Orchestra, New York New Music Ensemble, St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, Fuma Sacra, New York Percussion Quartet, Ebb and Flow Arts Ensemble, New York Virtuoso Singers, Westminster Conservatory Children’s Choir, and Weber State Concert Choir.

Magnussen holds doctoral and masters degrees from The Juilliard School where he studied composition with Robert Beaser and participated in seminars with John Corigliano, Ellen Taafe Zwilich and William Bolcom. He also holds degrees from Conservatoire Nationale Supérieure de Musique de Paris where he studied with Jean-Paul Holstein; and Cornell University, where he studied with Steven Stucky and Karel Husa. Magnussen was Artist-in-Residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton from 2000 to 2007 where he led a new music series  (Recent Pasts 20/21) and presented talks, associated with the series, on new music. Magnussen currently resides in Honolulu, Hawai’i.