Kari Besharse

Artistic Statement & Bio

As a composer, I continuously look to nature for both artistic inspiration and compositional processes. In my music, I frequently incorporate themes and ideas from nature, but go beyond simple visual beauty. I am very interested in natural processes (erosion, migrations, dissolution, the tides, photosynthesis…), relationships found in the natural world (family and group relationships, interdependence), and microscopic things that are not visible to the naked eye (organisms and the internal structure plants and animals). As part of my compositional technique, I often create analogous processes in music. Applying these ideas to music is both intuitive and technical – information can be mapped directly to musical parameters, or the ideas can inspire a more general poetic response. My style and compositional technique also centers around a deep fascination with the complexity and inner structure of sound itself which I see as a living, breathing, organic entity.

To create my works, I incorporate sounds from acoustic instruments, found objects, nature, as well as synthesized sound. Computers and electronic equipment make up an important part of my compositional technique, and even my purely acoustic works are often composed through the creation and manipulation of sound through computer-assisted processes.  Timbre, texture, and sound itself are essential players in my works, which are often generated from a group of sonic objects or material archetypes that undergo processes of rupture, degradation, alternation, and expansion.  In addition to the natural physical world, I am continuously inspired by the visual arts, literature, and humanity.

Continuously exploring the myriad ways that music intersects with science, nature, and the human world, Kari Besharse’s compositional output spans various facets within the field of contemporary music, fully engaging new technological resources as well as traditional instruments and ensembles. Her works, which incorporate sounds from acoustic instruments, found objects, the natural world, and sound synthesis, are often generated from a group of sonic objects or material archetypes that are subjected to processes inspired by nature, physics and computer music. Kari was awarded the Bourges Residence Prize for Small Things, an electroacoustic work written in Csound and Protools, which uses the sounds of the frogs and insects of Austin, Texas as its source material. Additional honors have come from Quince Ensemble (Call for scores winner), the Tuscaloosa New Music Collective (honorable mention), Look and Listen Festival Prize (semi-finalist), the ASCAP Young Composers Competition (finalist), and the INMC Competition (finalist).

Recent projects include everyone…everything for San Diego-based toy piano trio, Figmentum,  Verklingend, a work for haegeum, a traditional Korean instrument and chamber ensemble for ensemble mise-en and Tabula 51, a work for tuba and live electronics for Aaron Hynds. Embers, a work for saxophone and piano commissioned by Richard Schwartz, is the title track of an album released on the Centaur label. Additionally, her music has been presented around the world by organizations and ensembles such as Loadbang, Accordant Commons, The Empyrean Ensemble, Alarm will Sound, The California Ear Unit, The East Coast Contemporary Ensemble, Society of Composers, Inc., Texas Computer Musicians Network, The LaTex Festival, The Florida Electroacoustic Music Festival, Electronic Music Midwest, ICMC, SEAMUS, Bourges, Elektrophonie, Third Practice, 60X60, The Electroacoustic Juke Joint Festival, New Music Forum, Pulse Field, Art of Sounds Festival at Belgrade, Serbia, mise-en festival, soundON festival, trombonist Benjamin Lanz and violist Michael Hall.

Currently a lecturer at Southeastern Louisiana University, Dr. Besharse has also taught music theory, music history, and electronic music courses at Illinois Wesleyan and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Kari’s education includes undergraduate studies at UMKC (B.M. ‘98), and graduate work at the University of Texas at Austin (M.M. ‘02) and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (D.M.A. ‘09). Kari is the founder and director of Versipel New Music, an organization dedicated to presenting the music of contemporary composers, now in its sixth season in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Kari Besharse currently lives in Covington, Louisiana with her husband, composer Philip Schuessler, her three year old son, Alistair, and their two cozy and cuddly cats, Axilla and Carini.