UC San Diego's Department of Music

January 03, 2011

  Visual art, geometry, and plant forms inspired seven new works by UC San Diego composer Katharina Rosenberger. One of these pieces will premiere at UCSD on Jan. 12, performed by the highly regarded Wet Ink Ensemble from New York City (the concert also includes works by five other composers).

Rosenberger and Wet Ink will be guests on KPBS-FM public radio's "These Days" program on Jan. 12 at 10:20 a.m. Listen at 89.5 FM, or streaming online at

TEXTUREN, the piece to be performed at UCSD, is a prime example of Rosenberger's influences.

"My inspiration is the wild and vast garden adjacent to the house I currently live in," says Rosenberger. Her new material, she says, is "a carefully curated sonic landscape of seven chamber pieces, whose finely crafted compositional material and structures all relate to the interconnectedness of the aural and the visual and include contours, lines, textures, and the anatomy and morphology of plants."

Rosenberger's interest in combining Influences ranging from nature to mathematics and musical theory carries her music and multimedia works beyond traditional classical music and into experimental realms. This innovative spirit is one reason why she was recruited to join UCSD's music faculty in 2008.

"Katharina's combination of accomplishments, as a composer of uncompromising, colorful instrumental and electronic music, as a creator of experimental music theater works; as an installation artist creating innovative, interactive sonic environments; and most uniquely, with the way her work traverses and combines elements from all of these areas; enables her to bring inspiring new perspectives to our students," says composer Rand Steiger, a longtime member of UCSD's music faculty.

Rosenberger was born and grew up in Zurich, Switzerland. She first took an interest in music when she was tall enough to reach the piano keyboard. As a teenager she was a vocalist with a special interest in improvisation, and she directed of a teen choir.

She realized she wanted to pursue composition after she wrote and staged the opera "Iphigenia in Aulide" in Boston. "It was such a thrill to work with the musicians and hear the music performed," she says. As an undergrad at Berklee College of Music, "I worked a lot in the studio and learned recording techniques. I was fascinated with recorded sound and elements such as spatialization. Plus I had friends who were in Visual Arts and I was exposed to their work all the time."

Rosenberger earned her doctorate degree in composition at Columbia University, where she studied installation art with former UCSD music faculty member George Lewis and composition with Tristan Murail. She had never been to San Diego before taking the job at UCSD, but as a lover of nature she was soon hiking through our region's many canyons.

Following the January Wet Ink concert and a recording session for a  CD of her new music, Rosenberger will mix the new CD at a favorite studio in Zurich and seek distribution with a European record label.

The Jan. 12 concert at UCSD is part of the music department's Wednesdays@7 series focusing on new and experimental music. The series runs through May 2011.

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