Whitney George is a composer and conductor who specializes in the use of mixed media to blur the distinctions between concert performance, installation art, and theater. Utilizing a wide variety of material including literary texts, silent film, stock footage, and visual arts, George’s compositions are characterized by an immersive theatricality that thrives on collaboration in all phases of the creative process. Her affinity for the macabre, the fantastic, and the bizarre frequently gives rise to musical programs that evoke the traditions of phantasmagoria and melodrama, challenging musicians to experiment liberally with their stage personae, and audiences to widen the scope of their attention.
George’s music, performance art, and installations have had both international and domestic premieres in England, Hong Kong, Austria, the Netherlands, and the east and west coasts of the US. Her works have been performed and premiered by The American Modern Ensemble, Contemporaneous, Shout House, Ensemble Mise-en, The Concrete Timbre Collective, Mivos String Quartet, New York Trombone Consort, Low Brass Connection, Cygnus Ensemble, Transit Ensemble, Fulcrum Point String Quartet, CME (Contemporary Music Ensemble), The Curiosity Cabinet, Cadillac Moon, and Vigil Ensemble.
Specializing in interdisciplinary, collaborative works, her staged and theatrical compositions have been recognized with numerous awards. Her masters thesis and operatic work, The Yellow Wallpaper, was awarded the Lehman Engel Award in 2010. George was named as a John Duffy Composers Institute Fellow for two years running in 2010 and 2011 for her staged works The Yellow Wallpaper and And Thus the Whirligig of Time Brings in His Revenges. The Robert Starer Award commemorated her multi-movement orchestral work The Anatomy of the Curiosity Cabinet in 2011. In 2012 a collection of her chamber works was released in the UK by Blue Tapes on a series of cassettes titled Blue Nine: Whitney George. Movements from her recent work completed in 2013, Night, like velvet: in twelve letters, have been selected for performance on various new music festivals since it’s completion, including the New Music Conflagration series, Hartford Women Composers Festival, AME 10th Annual Awards Night, and more.
She is the artistic director and conductor of The Curiosity Cabinet, a chamber orchestra formed in 2009 whose members were culled from a network of close collaborators within New York’s diverse new music scene. The Cabinet’s live performances often engage playfully with the prototype of the classical concert, imbuing even non-theatrical compositions with elements of drama. The ensemble has participated in the inaugural CUNY New Music Festival and was invited as the ensemble-in-residence at the Hartford Women Composers Festival in 2012, and has since performed regularly in New York city and Brooklyn including venues such as Dixon Place, National Sawdust, South Oxford Space, Elebash Hall, and more.
George also conducts Ursula Oppens’s conTEMPO ensemble at Brooklyn College Conservatory as well as the Face the Music Youth Orchestra. For the past few years, George has had the honor of guest conducting a variety of new music ensembles in New York. In 2011, George conducted the premiere performance of Fred Ho’s opera The Sweet Science Suite: a Scientific Soul Honoring of Mohammed Ali at the Guggenheim Museum with the Green Monster Big Band. In 2013 she guest conducted Sugar Vendil’s ensemble The Noveau Classical Project at Symphony Space to kickoff the month-long ComposersNOW celebration. In 2014, she has guest conducted The String Orchestra of Brooklyn, Fresh Squeezed Opera Company, and the New York Trombone Consort for productions in New York in addition to the Low Brass Connection of the Netherlands for a concert series in Europe with special guest soloist David Taylor. In 2015, she guest Eric Lemmon’s ambitious project “The Impossible will Take a While”, and Fresh Squeezed Opera’s annual summer production “Baby Shower”.
George holds an undergraduate degree from the California Institute of the Arts, a masters degree from Brooklyn College Conservatory, and is currently continuing her studies as a PhD candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she studied with David Del Tredici, David Olan, Bruce Saylor, and Tania Leon. In addition to her composing and conducting, George teaches at the Brooklyn College Conservatory, works at the Hitchcock Institute of American Studies and is the Managing Director for New York’s American Modern Ensemble (AME).