Ken Steen

Ken Steen headshot

Professor Emeritus Composition and Music Theory

Music Theory, Music Composition

The Hartt School
860.768.5955 F 327

MFA, Bard College

BM, The Hartt School, University of Hartford

Ken Steen's music and sound art is recognized internationally for its authentic vitality, remarkable stylistic range, and distinctive personal vision. Whether acoustic, electronic or some multimedia combination, his work has been characterized as “deliciously rarefied” (Colin Clarke, Fanfare); “a stunning sonic soundscape…a unique spatial experience…intensely ethereal immediately transporting listeners to a different level of consciousness.” (Natalie Szabo, Fanfare); “seductively gorgeous, featuring sumptuous textures of gradual yet unpredictable evolution.” (Kyle Gann). In the last decade Steen's work in various forms has enjoyed more than 120 performances, installations, or screenings on 5 continents: from Mumbai to Tripoli, Buenos Aires to Reykjavík, Stockholm, Cape Town, Melbourne, and New York City.

Samples of his work can be viewed on Vimeo and Soundcloud.

Selected performances include

efternär (Thomas Schuttenhelm, electric guitar + 8.1 audio) DiMenna Center, NYC, and moments after… (with Foot in the Door Ensemble, Glen Adsit, conductor–2023); attempting to conjure joy… (Galan Trio, UArts, Philadelphia); ICE IS WATER IS ICE IS (Masaki/Gort/Steen, Sonorities Festival, Belfast, Northern Ireland, and International Society of Electronic Arts Conference, Barcelona, Spain–2022); i efternär, aftur (7.1 fixed audio), Bernaola Zikloa Festival 20/21 Vittoria-Gaistiz, Spain–2021); APART/MENTAL: a video puppet operita (OperaVision, Bury Court Opera Prize, UK), ICE IS WATER IS ICE IS (Masaki/Gort/Steen, NYCEMF Virtual Online Festival); in afterness.. (Network for New Music, Icebox Project Space, Philadelphia, PA–2020); Eye Mask (Modern Musici Aquincum, Rome and L’Aquila, Italy, Budapest, Hungary; ICE IS WATER IS ICE IS (Masaki/Gort/Steen, Manitoba, Canada); Driving Me Crazy (Lawrence Axelrod, piano + stereo audio; Aukland, Wellington, Christchurch, New Zealand–2019); Suspensions (Duo Agosto, oboe and english horn + stereo audio, International Double Reed Society Conference, Grenada, Spain); air is the first of mothers (Gilda Lyons, vocalist, Phoenix Concerts NYC–2018); cloud machine (concert-length/sound & video, Bushwick Open Studios Festival @ Mise-En_Place, Brooklyn, Assumption (17.4 fixed audio, Tonband 2017 Fixed Media Festival at Audiorama, Stockholm, Sweden–2017); Drifting Off (Robert Black, double bass, MENGI) and DĔPO FLUX (Foot in the Door Ensemble, Dark Music Days Festival, Reykjavík, Iceland–2015); Waft: [a piano prelude in the form of a double bass for airports], piano and audience participation with cell phones) Paulo Steinberg, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil–2014).

Selected residencies, fellowships, grants or commissions include

Connecticut Office on the Arts Fellowship (2023); Operation Opera, Composer-in-Residence (2022); Network for New Music, commissioned in afterness… (2020); Brandon University New Music Festival commissioned ICE IS WATER IS ICE IS for Megumi Masaki (2019); Drake Arts Residency (DAR), Kokkola, and Arteles Creative Center, Hämeenkyrö, Finland; Duo Agosto commissioned Suspensions; The Phoenix Concerts commissioned air is the first of mothers for Gilda Lyons; Promisek Foundation commissioned in this time, and in this place for violinist Katie Lansdale and studio (2018); University of Wisconsin La Crosse Wind Ensemble commissioned out of this the moon to gleam, for the Creative Imperatives Festival; Elektronmusikstudion EMS and Audiorama Stockholm commissioned Assumption (2017); Visby International Centre for Composers (VICC), Gotland, Sweden (2019 & 2016); Gullkistan: center for creativity, Laugarvatn, Iceland (2013); Centre d’Art Marney Art Center (CAMAC), Marney-sur-Seine, France (2012); American Composers Forum Encore Grant (2010); The Artist's Enclave at I-Park (2023, 2009, 2004); MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, NH (2006); the American Composers Forum Continental Harmony Encore Project and the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism (2005).

Selected invitations to give masterclasses or lectures include

Connecticut Summerfest (2023, 2020, 2017); Brandon University, Manitoba, Canada (2019); Boston University Tanglewood Institute (BUTI 2022, 2019 - 2017); Sibelius Academy/Uniarts, Helsinki and Nordiska Konstskolan, Kokkola, Finland (2018); Boston University Composers Forum, Boston, USA (2020, 2016); University of Gothenburg, Sweden (2016); Iceland Academy of the Arts (2015); National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Young Composer Forum (2015, 2013); University of Maribor, Slovenia and International School of Luxembourg (2012); Trinity College, Hartford, CT (2010); Connecticut Film Festival (2010); Wesleyan University/Ives Vocal Marathon (2009); AXIOM Center for New and Experimental Media, Cambridge, MA (2009).

Selected sound and video installations include

Ladder, (installation version, stereo audio) Tingstäde Kyrka, Gotland, Sweden: 15 June–11 September, 2021; raster deflection field: retrospective installation of eighteen sound/video works, mediabox-one @ Hartford Art School: 8–10 May, 2019; LOCUS (collaboration with Simon Ker-Fox) AVA Gallery, Cape town, South Africa 02–21 December 2018; cloud machine, at the Museum of the Power Station, Nogent-sur-Seine, France: 30 June–30 September, 2017; doublewalk-dubbelelopen, part of Tijdelijke ruimten ** Timeless thoughts, at Haagse Kunstkring, The Hague, Netherlands: 27 September–22 October, 2017; returning, Traces of Walden Exhibition at TPTPspace Gallery, Montmartre, Paris, France: 01–08 September, 2010; (h)Earscaping, Sonic Residues 02 Festival, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne: 17–24 November, 2000.

Ken Steen is Professor Emeritus of Composition and Music Theory at the Hartt School, where he has taught since 1992, and was the 2012 recipient of the Roy E. Larsen Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest recognition of faculty accomplishment awarded by the University of Hartford.