Associate Professor of Theory & Composition
“Hyperkinetic music” – Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times
“A colorful world of sound” – Klaus Trapp, Darmstädter Echo
“Completely radical” – Cora Uitting, Erlanger Nachrichten
“A musical monument is made.” — Michael Sikora, Nürnberger Nachrichten
“High intensity …dream-like tableaus of sound” — Frieder Reininghaus, Deutschlandradio Kultur
“Music and language are connected here in a way that gets under your skin.” – Hanna Styrie, Kölner Rundschau
Karola Obermüller (http://karolaobermueller.net) composes in search of the unknown, with layers upon layers of obscured material buried deep beneath a surface that is sometimes sumptuous, sometimes bristling with rhythmic energy. This unique voice began forming in collages of sound made with tape recorders as a child and evolved later with composition degrees from the Meistersinger-Konservatorium Nürnberg, the Hochschule für Musik Saar, and the University Mozarteum Salzburg. Her sense of rhythm and form was forever changed by studying Carnatic and Hindustani classical music in Chennai and Delhi, India.
A Ph.D. at Harvard University brought her to the US where she now teaches at the University of New Mexico, co-directing the composition area and the annual John Donald Robb Composers’ Symposium music festival. She also lives and works part of the year in Europe and has been a visiting artist at ZKM, Deutsche Akademie Rom, Centro Tedesco di studi Veneziani, Akademie Schloss Solitude, and IRCAM as well as serving as a resident composer for new music festivals at Hochschule für Musik Nürnberg, Conservatorio Piccinni di Bari (Italy), University Mozarteum Salzburg, Festival Virtuosi Century XXI, Recife (Brazil), Samobor Music Festival Croatia, and others.
Her music, often political, always dramatic, includes operas for Staatstheater Nürnberg, Theater Bielefeld, Theater Bonn, and Stuttgart’s Musik der Jahrhunderte. The emotional juxtapositions of story suspended in a tableau architecture that one finds in her operas can be heard in her concert works as well. These include commissions from the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fromm Music Foundation, New Music USA, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Saarländischer Rundfunk, and numerous soloists and ensembles.
Obermüller works with lauded contemporary music ensembles such as Ensemble Modern, ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), the Arditti String Quartet, Neue Vocalsolisten, MusikFabrik, Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, E-MEX Ensemble, the Iridium Quartet, the New Thread Quartet, Pegnitzschäfer Klangkonzepte, Ensemble Adapter, New Mexico Contemporary Ensemble, and ensemble phorminx. She has received numerous awards including the Darmstädter Musikpreis, the New York Musicians Club Prize, the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer’s Award, the Bavarian Youth Prize for Composition (awarded by Zubin Mehta), the John Green Prize for Excellence in Music Composition, and the 1st Prize of the “New Note” International Composers Competition Croatia. Having been selected for the Contemporary Music Edition by the German Music Council, the Wergo label has produced a portrait CD of her music (November 2018). Another portrait CD for New Focus Recordings is in production.