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Lisa Karrer

composer /director /performance /video artist

(photo:Ed Kirstein)

Lisa Karrer works internationally as a composer, director, vocalist and performance artist, performing her works in Eastern and Western Europe, Israel, Asia, Indonesia, Canada and the U.S. She uses vocal music as her primary form of communication and is especially interested in re-activating world languages in order to explore and interpret transverse lines of contemporary and ancestral world cultures. Lisa has studied voice with Andrea Goodman of the Meredith Monk Ensemble, Richard Armstrong and Kevin Crawford of the Roy Hart Theater in France and Sjabbe Von Selfout of Spain. She is also an accomplished stilt dancer.

Lisa tours, collaborates, records and performs with artists and ensembles such as Tan Dun, David Simons, Gregory Barsamian, Mary Ziegler, Jenny Lynn McNutt, John Morton, Douglas Dunn, David First, Jacqueline Shatz, Thomas Buckner, Margaret Leng Tan, Muna Tseng, Toni Dove, Denman Maroney, Patrick Grant, Theodora Skipitares, Joshua Fried, Jerome Kitzke and Tony Prabowa's New Jakarta Ensemble; and with Music For Homemade Instruments and Gamelan Son of Lion, for whom she also composes. Lisa produced and composed works for Gamelan Son of Lion's CDs "Bending the Gending" (2002), and "Sonogram" (2009) and Music For Homemade Instruments' CD "Pick Of the Litter" (2000).

Awards include a '95 ArtsLink Collaborative Projects Grant from the NEA/Soros Foundation and an Arts International Travel Grant to further her collaborative projects in Estonia; a ‘96 Harvestworks Programming Residency; a '97 ArtsLink grant to create "Puhamu", a multi-media music-performance installation in Tallinn, Estonia; and various Meet The Composer Awards. Lisa and collaborator David Simons received grants from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, the Jerome Foundation, The Greenwall Foundation and The Aaron Copland Fund to compose, develop and record their chamber opera "The Birth of George", sponsored by Harvestworks and American Opera Projects; released on CD under Harvestworks TELLUS Label. In 2003 Lisa was awarded funding from The Greenwall Foundation and Arts International to support her current work "Woman's Song: The Story of Roro Mendut".

In January 2000: Lisa performed in Bali and Java, in David Simons "Music For Theremin and Gamelan" and as guest vocalist with Javanese composer Tony Prabowo's New Jakarta Ensemble at the Sacred Rhythm Festival; in the U.S. she presented works from "The Simurgh", an opera-in progress with texts by Olive Schreiner and novelist Doris Lessing, at Galapagos' New Music Series in Brooklyn; and the Outer Voices Series in New York City.

In 2001, Lisa remounted "Triskelion" with choreographer Douglas Dunn at 92nd St Y, performed with Jerome Kitzke in the "Great Day in New York" series at Alice Tully Hall; Gamelan Son of Lion and the Mark Morris Dance Company at BAM; in Barbara Benary's gamelan opera "Esther" at HERE Theater, and taught master classes in composition for dance at Polli Talu Arts Center in Estonia. In 2002 she was soloist in David First's score for Theodora Skiptares' work "The Rise and Fall of Timur the Lame" at LaMama.

In Oct 2003 Lisa premiered "Woman's Song: The Story of Roro Mendut", at the Kitchen in co-production with World Music Institute; she also received Arts International funding to bring "Woman's Song" to Estonia's Glasperlenspiel Festival. "Woman's Song" is a multi-arts Wayang Opera composed and directed by Karrer, with shadow puppets by Kate Yourke, video by Jenny Lynn McNutt and lighting design by Carol Mullins; featuring Gamelan Son of Lion, Indonesian dancers and martial arts performers. In 2004 Lisa created a sound installation in Zagreb, Croatia for Ivana Sajko's "MASS For Election Day Silence" with David Simons and BADco ensemble.

In 2006 she premiered "River Kotekan", for gamelan, pianists and vocalists, at Merkin Hall's Interpretations Series in NYC. Lisa premiered "Schismism Pt 1: Fractured America", a multi-arts solo project, at NYC's The Flea Theater in Feb.2007, with interactive sculpture by Gregory Barsamian. In 2009 Lisa's video "Ziarah Dalam Gereja Gunung" was featured in Rockland Center for the Arts Media Room, and her video "Claudia Smith" commissioned by Denman Maroney was premiered with his composition at GAGA Arts Center. In 2010 Lisa composed "Alice", an adaptation of Alice In Wonderland, through a commission from Ramapo College's Berrie Center for the Arts. From 2008 to the present Lisa performs her multi-media show "Schismism: Natural Law" based on the life of Charles Darwin, at venues including NYC's Living Theatre, Dixon Place and Cornelia Street Cafe's Entertaining Science, Binghamton University's EvOS series, CA University San Marcos' Darwin Symposium and SEMI Electronic Festival in Hartford CT. Lisa is currently developing a new multi-media project focusing on the evolution of the English language from Early Modernism through the present.

Major Performance Works 1992 - 2011:

2008-11   SCHISMISM: NATURAL LAW 2008-11 Multi-media performance about Charles Darwin in collaboration with David Simons; The Living Theatre, Dixon Place, Cornelia Street Cafe NYC, Binghamton University, CAL State at San Marcos, Ramapo College, SEMI Electronic Festival Hartford CT, Kripalu Yoga Institute

2010   ALICE - commissioned composer for new production at Ramapo College / Berrie Center for the Arts

2009   Rockland Composers Series - New works for voice and video at RoCA (Rockland Center for the Arts); Collision Theory - duet concerts with David Simons at the Flea Theatre NYC and Pomona Arts Center; Performance Installations at AIR Gallery Bklyn, RoCA (Rockland Center for the Arts), Gaga/Garnerville Arts Center; SONOGRAM CD release (with Gamelan Son of Lion) at Galapagos Bklyn

2007   SCHISMISM pt 1: FRACTURED AMERICA Multi-media solo with triggered sculpture by Gregory Barsamian; presented by the Flea Theatre "Music With A View" series, curated by Kathy Supove.

2006   RIVER KOTEKAN Composition for pianos, vocalists and gamelan orchestra; Renee Weiler Concert Hall and Merkin Concert Hall, NYC

2001-03   WOMAN'S SONG: THE STORY OF RORO MENDUT Multi-arts music theater production; previewed at Indonesian Consulate, The New School, Glasperlenspiel Festival, Estonia *Premiered at the Kitchen/NYC 2003, co-produced by The World Music Institute, funded by The Greenwall Foundation, Arts International, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and NYSCA.

2000 THE SIMURGH Opera-in progress based on South African writer Olive Schreiner’s texts
Presented excerpts in "Endangered Opera" concerts at Galapagos (Brooklyn) & Cornelia Street Cafe (NYC)

1999 TRISKELION Composed and performed score for voice/sampler/ steel guitar for Douglas Dunn & Dancers Riverside Church, NYC (and '03 at 92nd St Y)

1998 THE SIMONS-KARRER BAND Compositions for quintet Ysbreker, Holland; Logos, Belgium; Halle, Germany; St. Johann, Austria

1997 PUHAMU (Sanctuary) Multi-media music-performance installation St. Nicholas Church, Tallinn, Estonia

1996 ZIBOR RILJKE (SOUND OF THE RIVER) Voice and movement collaboration with Bosnian choreographer Valentina Cabro Danse Atelier, Rotterdam Holland

1995 MOONPULSE Film score for 2 voices, drum, flute, bamboo instruments Filmed in Tallinn, Estonia

1994 DESCANSOS Score for six voices and windwands The Music Gallery, Toronto

1993 THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA Score for women’s cast, men’s ensemble and soloists Skidmore College, NY

1992 EMAPOLV Dance cantata with vocal score for Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir Premiered at National Drama Theater, Tallinn, Estonia; Pace University, NYC

1991 VOICES IN THE FIELD Composed for soloists and choral ensemble Washington Square Church, NYC; The Hudson Waterfront Museum, Liberty State Park, New Jersey; Palenville Interarts Colony, NY; European tour: Wuppertal, Koln, Munster, Germany; Arava Kibbutzim, Israel

1990 CASSANDRA Score for women’s vocal trio for Rick Merrill Dance Company; DIA Arts, NYC

1989 THE BACCHAE Score for DAK Theater and music ensemble; Gowanus Arts Center, Brooklyn NY; Westbeth Theater Center, NYC

1988 THE WOMEN ON MY MOTHER'S SIDE A capella opera Premiered at The Knitting Factory, NYC

1987 BABY TRIALS Duet performance work in collaboration with Roberta Levine Dixon Place, NYC; New Haven, CT; Groundswell Festival, Toronto

1986 RAIN Solo vocal score for Choreographer Colin Connor; Dancer’s Workshop, Portland Oregon

1985 WOMEN OUT BIRDING Choral performance work based on sounds gathered during year-long world travels The Knitting Factory, NYC

1984 THE MADONNA EXPERIMENT Choral performance work, with text by Roberta Levine P.S. 122; The Knitting Factory, NYC

1983 TRIANGLES EQUALLY ABREAST Music and multi-media performance installation for large ensemble, in collaboration with performance artist Roberta Levine JAM (Just Above Midtown Downtown), NYC

Video Works:


Other Performances and International Tours:

    2002 THE RISE AND FALL OF TIMUR THE LAME Solo vocalist for Theodora Skipitares and David First’s collaboration LaMAMA Theater Annex, NYC

      33 SWOONINGS Solo stilt performer in Jenny Lynn McNutt’s multi-media performance and video installation; New School NYC

      SEWING SONGS Solo vocalist , co-composer and performer in Jenny Lynn McNutt’s multi-media video installation, New School NYC and Rome Italy

    2001 JEROME KITZKE AND THE MAD COYOTE Vocalist with Jerome Kitzke at Lincoln Center’s "Great Day in New York" series Alice Tully Hall, NYC
      MARK MORRIS DANCE COMPANY Performed with Gamelan Son of Lion for the Mark Morris Dance Company The Brooklyn Academy of Music

      ESTHER PURIMSPIEL Barbara Benary’s gamelan opera; performed as solo vocalist and ensemble member with Gamelan Son of Lion HERE Theater, NYC

    2000 NEW JAKARTA ENSEMBLE Guest soloist performing the work of Javanese composer Tony Prabowo Sacred Rhythm Festival, Bali, and TUK Theater, Jakarta, Indonesia

      MUSIC FOR THEREMIN AND GAMELAN and VIRTUAL PERCUSSION TRIO Featured performer in works by composer David Simons The Sacred Rhythm Festival, Bali, and TUK Theater, Jakarta, Indonesia

    1999 JEROME KITZKE AND THE MAD COYOTE Soloist at WNYC’s ‘New Sounds Live; Merkin Concert Hall NYC

    1998 COCCA MOCCA Collaboration with choreographer Douglas Dunn and Dancers, St. Mark’s Danspace, NYC


      SPELL FOR OPENING THE MOUTH OF N Joshua Fried/Douglas Dunns’ collaboration The Kitchen, NYC

      YOGYAKARTA GAMELAN FESTIVAL Java, Indonesia with Gamelan Son of Lion and Music For Homemade Instruments ensembles

    1995 THE MANHATTAN BOOK OF THE DEAD David First’s opera featuring Thomas Buckner LaMama, NYC

    1994 THE PINK With composer Tan Dun and choreographer Muna Tseng , Hong Kong, NYC, Chicago, NYYD Festival, Tallinn, Estonia

      "CAGE II" By Tan Dun (world premiere) Soloist with pianist Margaret Leng Tan and Mongolian director/vocal artist Sheng-yi Chen Lincoln Center , NYC