Composer Abbie Betinis writes music called “inventive” (The New York Times), “joyful… shattering, incandescent” (Boston Globe), and music that “expands into ethereal realms” (Cambridge University Press). She has been honored to attend performances of her music from Carnegie Hall to Disney Hall, school assemblies to wedding ceremonies, state prisons to capitol buildings, summer camps to the finest international cathedrals. In 2018, her music was performed on four continents, totaling over 500 performances.
Working largely by commission, Abbie has composed new music for world-class organizations, including the American Choral Directors Association, American Suzuki Foundation, Cantus, Chorus Pro Musica, The Dale Warland Singers, Flying Forms Baroque, James Sewell Ballet, LyricFest, New England Philharmonic, St. Olaf Choir, Young New Yorkers’ Chorus, Zeitgeist, and the Zodiac Trio.
An eager collaborator, she has worked with poet Michael Dennis Browne, soprano Carrie Henneman Shaw, choreographer James Sewell, and recently composed a rhapsody inspired by ancient Greek oratory for renowned British clarinetist Michael Collins. Inspired by history and culture, patterns and play, other projects incorporate elements from early American shape-note singing, Eleanor Roosevelt’s bedtime routine, Gaelic keening, Japanese origami, and the mysticism of medieval Sufism. In January 2017, spurred to action by the US political climate, she and Tesfa Wondemagegnehu co-founded Justice Choir, a template for community singing and mobile advocacy. With conductor Ahmed Anzaldúa, the three co-edited the Justice Choir Songbook.
Abbie’s publishers include G. Schirmer, Graphite, Hal Leonard, and others, as well as her own Abbie Betinis Music Co., through which she distributes her scores to musicians around the world. An advocate for small business and artist rights, she has presented on copyright and publishing at national conferences, organized national exhibits for independent publishers, and has been a community liaison to the board of the American Composers Forum.
A two-time McKnight Artist Fellow, Abbie has also won grants and awards from the American Composers Forum, ASCAP, and the Minnesota Music Educators Association, among others. At age 31, she was voted one of the nation’s top 100 Composers Under 40 by New York’s WQXR-FM and National Public Radio. On Minnesota Public Radio, her annual premiere of a fresh, new Christmas carol has become a beloved holiday tradition. On public television, her early career as a cancer survivor finding her voice is profiled in the regional Emmy award-winning documentary “Never Stop Singing.” Her song cycle “Nattsanger (Nightsongs)” for soprano, clarinet and piano won an Honorable Mention in ASCAP’s Morton Gould Young Composer Awards and is distributed by Naxos. In July 2017, she was named Musical America’s Artist of the Month, with a feature article lauding her “contrapuntal vitality” and “her ability to use her talents to effect social change.”
Abbie has been a Composer-in-Residence with New York State School Music Association, The Rose Ensemble, The Singers-Minnesota Choral Artists, and – for twelve years – The Schubert Club, where she continues to host a weekly concert series. In 2019, she will be the American Composers Forum’s ChoralQuest composer, visiting schools around the U.S. to write new choral music with middle school singers.
Originally from Wisconsin, Abbie is a graduate of St. Olaf College (B.A.), the University of Minnesota (M.A.), and holds a diplôme from the European American Musical Alliance Institute in Paris, France. She lives in Minnesota, where she is Adjunct Professor of Composition at Concordia University-St Paul and executive director of Justice Choir.