EarShot ICO Readings & Competition: Composer Spotlight – Karena Ingram

Karena Ingram is an emerging contemporary composer based in Baltimore, Maryland. Karena composes for contemporary chamber ensembles, large symphonic works, video games, and interactive media. Her chamber ensemble works have been performed regularly throughout the Baltimore area, most notably as a part of the Livewire New Music Festival. Karena’s music is known for its imaginative use of color and textural exploration. Beginning her musical career at the age of nine, with self-teaching in violin and music theory, she is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, receiving her Bachelor of Arts in music composition.

Karena was selected for the 2016 EarShot Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra Readings & Competition for her piece Animals of the Soltice; Calm of the Equinox. She answered these questions for SoundAdvice. 

The readings are free and open to the public on Friday, September 23, 7PM at the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts.

Composer Karena Ingram

American Composers Orchestra: What was your reaction to finding our your piece had been selected for the 2016 Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra Readings and Competition?
Karena Ingram: I was extremely enthusiastic when I first learned that my piece had been selected! I was so shocked, I could barely speak coherently on the phone! I knew that the competition was wildly competitive, so to know that my art was enjoyed enough by ACO that they wanted to include it in the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra readings, I was blown away! Overwhelming, but exciting!
ACO: Can you talk about your compositional process? Your piece “creates a narrative of a lively and bombastic progression animals from the summer solstice to the calm and tranquil autumn equinox.” Did you start with this idea, or did it naturally form as you started to put music on the page?
KI: For my composition process, I begin with a small concept and match it with a small musical idea. As I dive deeper into the concept, the music unravels and comes to life. For this piece, specifically, I began with just the idea of the summer solstice and autumn equinox; I focused on what made the two distinct from each other, and from that created a simple form for the entire piece. The music really took shape and character once I explored concepts of the zodiac constellations that are seen during these periods. I like to start work from a small cell, and as my imagination grows, the music grows into something alive and dynamic. 
ACO: What have you done to prepare for the readings since you found out your piece was selected?
KI: Of course, a lot of proper preparation of scores and parts and other materials has been done since finding out my piece was chosen, but the biggest preparation so far has been my confidence. I’ve always dealt with bouts of Imposter’s Syndrome, and faced with such an amazing opportunity, I ran across some self-doubt and disbelief. I’ve done a lot to realize myself as a composer and an artist, found the great amount of worth in my work, and now I am more than ready to participate in the readings with great optimism! 
ACO: What are you most looking forward to about the readings?
KI: I’m really excited to hear such great musicians bring this musical narrative to life! It’ll be such a great learning experience to work with a professional ensemble so intimately. I am also really excited to hear the works of the other winning composers!
Learn more about Karena at www.karenaingrammusic.com

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