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.

Kari Besharse is a composer of acoustic and electroacoustic music, a guitarist, an educator, a sci-fi nut, and an outdoors enthusiast. Her works, which incorporate sounds from acoustic instruments, found objects, the natural world, and synthesis, are often generated from a group of sonic objects or material archetypes that undergo processes of rupture, degradation, alternation, expansion, and distortion. 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 the University of Missouri at Kansas City (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). Dr. Besharse’s dissertation research examined the role of texture in French spectral music through the works of Gérard Grisey, Philippe Hurel, Kaija Saariaho, and Tristan Murail. She studied composition with Stephen Andrew Taylor, Guy Garnett, Russell Pinkston, Donald Grantham, Robert Cooper, Rick Taube, and James Mobberly.

Dr. Besharse’s compositional output spans various facets within the field of contemporary music, and she is equally compelled to write music for mediums such as laptop ensemble, orchestra, and fixed electroacoustic music. Kari was awarded a 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 the Look and Listen Festival Prize (semi-finalist), the ASCAP Young Composers Competition (finalist), and the INMC Competition (finalist). Recent projects include Luminous Flux for the East Coast Contemporary Ensemble that premiered at the Etchings Festival at Auvilar, France in July 2010 and Embers, a work for saxophone and piano commissioned by Richard Schwartz, which premiered in March 2011. Her music has been presented around the world by venues and organizations such as The California Ear Unit, 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, and the Art of Sounds Festival at Belgrade, Serbia.

Kari Besharse currently lives in Hammond, Louisiana with her husband, composer Philip Schuessler, and their two cozy and cuddly cats, Axilla and Carini.