Baltimore-based composer and math teacher Elliott Grabill brings an authentic perspective to contemporary classical music. His experiences working with students of all walks of life nurture an artistic voice that’s both personal and relevant. His recent song cycle Teacher Tales, with self-authored lyrics, were hailed by Ron Beckett as doing “what great art has been able to do – raising awareness on issues society blindly accepts.” These songs received an honorable mention in the Arcady 2019 Emerging Artist Competition .
Elliott Grabill also composes electronic music, described by the InTowner as “hauntingly beautiful.” His works Pranayama, Un Jardin, and After the Storms explore the layering of piano overtones combined with psychedelic visuals. He’s also written electronic music featuring flute, bassoon, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, synthesizer, and small ensemble. He won 3rd place in the Peabody Prix d’Eté for his etherial, looping, meditative electronic work Gravity for solo clarinet.
Recently, Mr. Grabill developed a curriculum in ethnomathematics, an inclusive alternative to the hegemonic math curricula based around standardized tests. It’s possible he’s the first teacher in Baltimore City Public Schools to pilot a course in ethnomathematics. He’s also researched and given lectures on the links between music and math.
Maybe because he witnesses poverty daily, or maybe because he grew up poor– but Elliott is part of a minority of composers who rejects the stalwart musical trends of ivory tower academia. He doesn’t have a doctorate, and prefers to style his work as “classical music,” not “new music.” While tenured professors study “social justice music” to incite change, Elliott Grabill IS that change whenever he walks into a classroom. He nonetheless spends the same number of hours composing as his academic colleagues.
For over a decade he has written music for ensembles such as Pique Collective, Dark in the Song, the Civitasolis Reed Quintet, Music&Friends Chamber Ensemble, the Washington Men’s Camerata, the Meridian Arts Ensemble, and Quartetto Apeiron, as well as collaborating with artists of other media like Danielle Madrid, Vin Grabill, and the Black Cherry Puppet Theatre. Soloists such as Lynn Hileman, Peter Sheppard-Skaerved, Hila Zamir, Melissa Lander, Shawn Earle, Andrew Im, Tae Ho Hwang, Michele Jacot, and Andrea Cheeseman have also taken on his work. He received the Dark in the Song Prize for his bassoon quartet Escape. In the mid-Atlantic region his work has been performed or screened at the Rosebud Film Festival, the Kennedy Center, the Windup Space, Reverb, the Black Cherry Puppet Theatre, the Peabody Thursday Noon Concert Series, the UVA Technosonics Festival, the Temple University Conwell Dance Theatre, and American University. His work has also been featured at Electroacoustic Barndance, the Athens International Film and Video Festival, inner sOUndscapes, the International Computer Music Conference, the SEAMUS Conference, the New York City Electronic Music Festival, June in Buffalo, highSCORE, the National Student Electronic Music Event, and the Toronto International Electroacoustic Symposium.