Eliza Brown

Eliza Brown is a Chicago-based composer whose work is motivated by sound and its potential for meaning, an engagement with the broader arts and humanities, and a fascination with unanswerable existential questions. Eliza’s compositions have been performed by leading interpreters of new music, including Ensemble Dal Niente, Spektral Quartet, ensemble recherche, International Contemporary Ensemble, Network for New Music, Ensemble SurPlus, Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, and Wild Rumpus New Music Collective. Her works have been heard on stages throughout the USA and in Mexico, Colombia, Germany, Hungary, Spain, Canada, and the UAE, and have been recorded on multiple labels. 

Eliza’s work is frequently intertextual, opening dialogues with existing pieces of music, historical styles, and other cultural artifacts. Her work is also frequently interdisciplinary, with a particular focus on music-theater and opera. These traits are exemplified in her 2015 music-theater work Prospect and Refuge, which explores how public spaces shape social experience. Created in collaboration with architect Hannah Marzynski, Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, and stage director Emmi Hilger, the piece is designed to be re-staged at each new performance site and incorporates re-composed quotations from Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde that speak to how deeply humans can be affected by place. 

Eliza’s artistic interests give rise to questions about the interpretation and meaning of music that drive her scholarship. Her dissertation, A Narratological Analysis of ‘Pnima…ins innere’ by Chaya Czernowin, uses methods drawn from the interdisciplinary field of narratology (the study of narrative) to examine how Czernowin’s opera tells its story by means of music alone, as the singers in Pnima sing phonemes and vocal sounds rather than words. 

Eliza is a dedicated teacher who enjoys helping students strengthen their creative voices and engage complex ideas with rigor and enthusiasm. She is a member of the composition faculty at Columbia College Chicago, and in the summers she serves as faculty member and Assistant Academic Dean at the Walden School Young Musicians Program in Dublin, NH. Eliza holds a B.Mus. summa cum laude in composition from the University of Michigan and a D.M.A. in composition from Northwestern University, where she has also taught courses in Music Theory, Composition, and Aural Skills.