Judith Shatin
Composer and Sound Artist

Judith Shatin talks about visiting the inside of a coal mine, working with early mainframe computers, and blooming where you're planted. 



Judith Shatin is a composer and sound artist whose musical practice engages our social, cultural, and physical environments. She draws on expanded instrumental palettes and a cornucopia of the sounding world, from machines in a deep coal mine, to the calls of animals, the shuttle of a wooden loom, a lawnmower racing up a lawn, the ripping of tape. Timbral exploration and dynamic narrative design are fundamental to her compositional design, while collaboration with musicians, artists and community groups are central to her musical life.

Shatin’s music has been commissioned by organizations including the Barlow Endowment and Fromm Foundations, Carnegie Hall, the McKim Fund of the Library of Congress, the Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Arts Partners Program, Music-at-LaGesse Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Educated at Douglass College (AB, Phi Beta Kappa; studied with Robert Moevs), The Juilliard School (MM, Abraham Ellstein Prize; studied with Hall Overton, Otto Luening and Milton Babbitt) and Princeton University (MFA, PhD; studied with Milton Babbitt and JK Randall), Judith Shatin is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor and Founder of the Virginia Center for Computer Music at the University of Virginia. She has been honored with four Composer Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as awards from the American Music Center, Meet the Composer, the New Jersey State Arts Council and the Virginia Commission for the Arts. A two-year retrospective of her music, and the commission for her evening-length folk oratorio, COAL, was sponsored by the Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Arts Partners Program. Shatin’s music is published by Arsis Press, C.F. Peters, Colla Voce, Hal Leonard, E.C. Schirmer, G.Schirmer and Wendigo Music. It can be heard on the Centaur, Innova, Neuma, New World, Ravello and Sonora labels, and is featured in Women of Influence in Contemporary Music, Nine American Composers (Scarecrow Press). Long an advocate for her fellow composers, Shatin has served on the boards of the American Composers Alliance, the League/ISCM, and the International Alliance for Women in Music (IAWM) and as President of American Women Composers Inc.; she currently serves on the National Council of the Atlantic Center for the Arts. In demand as a master teacher, she has been BMI composer-in-residence at Vanderbilt University, Master Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and Senior Composer at the Wellesley Composers Conference, among many others.


Photo by Mary Noble Ours



My Head and Stay begins at 00:39. This piece, part of folk oratorio COAL, is not currently available to stream online, but you can read more about this project here.

Damn Min'ral Hunters begins at 03:15. This was incorrectly called "Min'ral Hunters" in the episode. 
Listen to this piece on Judith Shatin's website here

Fantasy on St. Cecilia begins at 10:30. Performed by Gayle Martin at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., 1997.

Gregor's Dream begins at 17:28. Performed by The Altar Trio (Ofer Shelley - piano, Tanya Beltser - violin, Tom Klein - cello) at The Jerusalem Music Center, May 2016.

Khamsa begins at 24:17. Listen to this piece on Judith Shatin's website here.

Mentioned in this episode