Keeril Makan

Working to create emotionally engaging musical experiences, American composer Keeril Makan combines an exploration of the rich detail inherent in sound with an unmistakably visceral energy. Drawing from diverse sources such as American folk music, the European avant-garde, Indian classical music, and minimalism, he synthesizes a music that, in its sheer intensity, thwarts assumptions of what is beautiful.

He has received commissions from ensembles such as the Kronos Quartet, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, the Paul Dresher Electroacoustic Band, the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, and the Del Sol String Quartet, and performances by the New York New Music Ensemble, California EAR Unit, Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Continuum, and Ensemble Nomad. Makan has participated in the International Gaudeamus New Music Week in Amsterdam, the Aspen Music Festival, Le Domaine Forget in Quebec, the MATA Festival in New York and Voix Nouvelles in Royaumont, France. He was invited back to Royaumont to participate in Le Grand Atelier, during which he collaborated on a new work for dance. Carnegie Hall has commissioned him to write a work for the John Harbison/Dawn Upshaw Workshop for Composers and Singers. He has received prizes from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and ASCAP, and commissions from the Gerbode and Hewlett Foundations of San Francisco and the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard. Recently, ODC Theater has commissioned him to collaborate with choreographer Benjamin Levy through a Meet the Composer/Commissioning Music USA award.

Makan grew up in New Jersey, of a mixed Indian and Russian Jewish heritage. After initial musical studies in violin and oboe, he received degrees in composition and religion at Oberlin College and Conservatory in Ohio. He completed his Ph.D. in composition at the University of California, Berkeley where he studied composition with Edmund Campion and Jorge Liderman, and computer music at the Center for New Music and Audio Technology (CNMAT) with David Wessel. Outside of the U.S., Makan spent a year in Helsinki, Finland at the Sibelius Academy on a Fulbright grant. Having been awarded the George Ladd Prix de Paris from the University of California, he also lived for two years in Paris, France, where he studied with Philippe Leroux.

Makan is Assistant Professor of Composition/Theory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is also Managing Editor of Computer Music Journal, published by MIT Press.

Selected works by Keeril Makan:
“Make music of everthing.”
--Georges Aperghis