Emily Joy Sullivan (b. 1987) is a composer who creates musical works characterized by lyricism, rhythmic vitality, and emotional immediacy. Her work is grounded in various vernacular and concert music traditions, and combines them to create pieces animated by our roots in song, dance, and storytelling.
As a leader and educator, Emily works from a place of deep conviction in the power of communal creation to regenerate our sense of connection, meaning, and power in an increasingly complex world that somehow seems both more fragmented and more interconnected than even before.
Ms. Sullivan holds a Master’s degree in Music Composition from SUNY Fredonia, where she studied with Rob Deemer, Paul Coleman, and Jamie Leigh Sampson. She holds a BA in Music from Amherst College, where her feminist musicology thesis was “Envoicing Eve: Femmes Fatales in Carmen, Salome, and Lulu.”
Emily has served as adjunct music theory lecturer at SUNY Fredonia, and is currently a PhD candidate in Music Theory and Composition at UC Davis, where she studies with Kurt Rohde. She is a co-founder of the UC Davis Graduate Student Ensemble. Emily's current academic research centers on emotion and the voice, especially as constructed in the art-pop songs of Bjork. Other interests include groove and methodologies for analyzing popular song.
Emily's works have been performed in New York, Chicago, Vancouver, Melbourne, Valencia, and Cape Town. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Emily's work pivoted to further embrace the multimedia bent that was there all along; projects include a physically-distanced mini musical (in collaboration with Mangai Arumugam), a short monodrama for Stephanie Lamprea, and improvisational pieces with a graphic score element meant to be shared between performers and audience.
In the instrumental realm, Emily's music has been premiered by groups such as B3: Brouwer Trio, Choral Chameleon and Adelante Winds. She was commissioned to write a piece for The Oscillators (a fusion band based in Wisconsin). Her piano trio, Dangerous Curves Ahead, took second place in the Belvedere New Music Festival and was chosen in the SCI National Call for Scores 2020. Her works have been performed at the TUTTI Festival, SCI National Conference, Music by Women Festival, Bowling Green New Music Festival, Collage Composers Colloquium, Fulcrum Point New Music Discovery Series, VIPA Festival, Women Composers Festival of Hartford, and LunArt festival.
Emily’s greatest passion is writing for the voice. From solo to choral, "classical" to "popular", and experimental to unabashedly traditional, the voice's expressive potential is her main interest. Emily's vocal works have been performed by Stephanie Lamprea, Kelci Kosin, Lynne McMurtry, and Katherine Fuller; upcoming collaborations include Liz Pearse (of Quince). Repeat collaborations include Opera Elect, Choral Chameleon, and N.E.O. Voice Festival.
Ms. Sullivan has founded and directed many singing groups, with a focus on helping people of various backgrounds, ages, and experience levels find community and a sense of joy through singing. She founded an international community choir in New York, which she led for four years. She has also researched choral music in South Africa; in 2013, she earned a Project for Peace grant to design and lead workshops for South African youths, bridging socioeconomic and cultural differences through group song.
Emily is a passionate educator. She holds a Master's Degree from the Bank Street College of Education, and has over a decade of teaching experience with students of various ages and in various subjects. Teaching music, unsurprisingly, turned out to be the best fit! From music-craft camps for 9-year-olds to teen choral workshops to college courses exploring the Broadway Musical through creative writing, Emily considers teaching her vocation - and a creative act in its own right!