Elizabeth Alexander (b. 1962) grew up in the Carolinas and Appalachian Ohio, inheriting her love of music, language and challenging questions from her parents, a piano teacher and a minister/prison warden. These passions are reflected in her catalogue of over 100 songs and choral works, and a style which moves with ease between concert stage, choir loft and jam session. Critical reviews frequently mention “the close personal resonance between the composer and the words,” in reference to her musical settings of both the poetry of others and the lyrics she crafts herself.
Her music has been described as “brilliantly innovative” (New York Concert Review), “truly inspired” (Boston Intelligencer), “effective both visually and musically” (Ear Magazine), and “some of the most exquisite moments of the concert” (Kansas City Metropolis). Her frequent commissions include works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, solo instruments and voice, but she is best known for her choral pieces, which have received many awards and been performed by thousands of choruses worldwide.
She studied composition with Steven Stucky, Jack Gallagher, Yehudi Wyner and Karel Husa, receiving her doctorate in Music Composition from Cornell University. A recent McKnight Composition Fellow, she has also received grants, awards and fellowships from the Jerome Foundation, New Music USA, Minnesota State Arts Board, New York Council on the Arts, Wisconsin Arts Board, National Orchestral Association, International League of Women Composers, American Composers Forum, Meet the Composer and ASCAP.
She lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she reads voraciously, makes pretty good biscuits, looks for all kinds of excuses to visit her two grown sons, and gardens during the three month period in Minnesota which is not winter.