Janika Vandervelde

Biography

Known as a passionate experimenter and ingenious explorer of new sonorities, a composer whose style reflects a freely inquisitive artistic personality, Janika Vandervelde is the author of more than sixty works, including orchestral compositions, chamber works, and two operas, Hildegard (1989) and Seven Sevens. While Vandervelde has been defined as an eclectic composer, it would perhaps be more accurate to say that her work in many ways reflects Read more the protean spirit of late twentieth-century and early twenty-first-century culture. As musicologist Susan McClary noted in her discussion, in Feminine Endings (1991), of Genesis II Vandervelde's ability to weave an asymmetrical musical tapestry of pitches and rhythmic structures reminds the listener of a crystal which changes as it turns, suggesting the paradoxical idea of timeless order in a flux.

Vandervelde's Genesis cycle, inspired by a feminist interpretation of the idea of life cycle, exemplifies her effort to apply minimalist techniques to an extended musical narrative. In her later works, Vandervelde adopted a more comprehensive approach, sometimes defined as postmodern, which included traces of various musical styles. For example, in her Ancient Echoes across the Stara Planina Vandervelde effectively incorporates Bulgarian folk music into an finely articulated, sophisticated, musical idiom. Vandervelde further expanded her musical language in her opera Seven Sevens, which includes electronic elements.

A graduate of the University of Minnesota, where she earned a doctorate in composition in 1985, Vandervelde, who is also active as pianist and conductor, has held a variety of teaching positions in Minnesota, including the post of music director at Wesley United Methodist Church in Minneapolis. In 1999, Vandervelde was appointed composer-in-residence, for a three-year period, for four important Minnesota-based cultural organizations, including the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota and the Minnesota Center for Arts Education. A dedicated musician, Vandervelde advocates a multidisciplinary conception of art, exemplified by a projected work based on women's narratives. In addition, she believes that a composer's job includes bringing music to the community. Read less

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