Short Bio

IMG_2579Elliott Grabill’s instrumental and electroacoustic compositions have been described as colorful, imaginative, hauntingly beautiful, journey-like, with an American style.  Elliott also performs as an electroacoustic musician and improviser, facilitating controllers and live coding.


Long Bio

Elliott Grabill is a composer of instrumental and electroacoustic music, currently living in Baltimore.  He is the recipient of the Dark in the Song Prize, and the third place winner of the Peabody Conservatory Prix d’Eté.  In the past two years his works have been / will be performed by Dark in the Song, the Washington Men’s Camerata, the Meridian Arts EnsembleQuartetto Apeiron,  Hila ZamirMelissa Lander, Shawn Earle, Michele Jacot, and Andrea Cheeseman.  Venues and festivals that have hosted performances of his work include Artisphere, the Kennedy Center, the Athens Film Festival, the ICMC, SEAMUS, the New York City Electronic Music Festival, the National Student Electronic Music Event, and the Toronto International Electroacoustic Symposium.  His work has been performed across the United States, as well as Canada, the UK, and Serbia.

Elliott Grabill has written electronic music for both fixed media, and solo instrument with live electronics.  With a complex of knobs, sliders, and computer programs, his computer music attempts to expand the the range of timbres and dynamics beyond the instrument’s limitations.  His electroacoustic compositions offer a soloist the chance express him/herself on an orchestral scale, in the comfort and intimacy of a living room concert.

American Flag Cropped

Baltimore-based composer Elliott Grabill

Elliott Grabill’s piano works Kings Highway / Stillwell Ave. (2007) and Katharos (2008) explore brief, odd, and often aleatoric gestures and techniques.  In 2009 his choral work Nantucket was performed by the Washington Men’s Camerata at the Kennedy Center in DC.  He continued his choral writing with Hathors, exploring avant-garde vocal technique under the baton of Terry Johns.  In 2010 Mr. Grabill turned to computer music with two acousmatic works, Un Jardin and Pranayama, to which his father Vin Grabill added video imagery.  Pranayama was featured in 2011 at the International Computer Music Conference in Huddersfield, England.  In 2011 he also collaborated with choreographer Danielle Greene on two works, Sapa and Residue, incorporating live interaction with the computer into his repertoire of electronic media.  In 2014, Elliott composed Snowy Shore, an electroaccoustic piece that incorporates the use of narrated poetry.  He later asked poet Bauke Kamstra to compose an original poem for Making the Year, a piece for mixed chorus.  In the summer, he was one of the few composers selected to compose for the improvE 2.0 Savamala Soundwalk.  For this project, he composed Crnogorska, an acousmatic work meant for participants to listen to on headphones while taking a soundwalk through Savamala, a neighborhood of Belgrade, Serbia.  In 2015 his brass quintet Rust Belt was performed at June in Buffalo by the Meridian Arts Ensemble, and his guitar quartet was performed by Quartetto Apeiron in Italy.

From 2015-2017, Elliott obtained his master’s degree in composition at the Peabody Conservatory.  His most extensive work, Pluto for clarinet and live electronics, was written mostly in the fall of 2015, but extensively revised throughout his time at Peabody.  The thirty-five minute work was performed three times in its entirety, with single movements performed at multiple festivals.  An ethereal work inspired by the NASA New Horizons mission, the piece explores sound meant to evoke the colors, textures, and movement in space.

Darl, also for clarinet and live electronics, explores language and drama and was inspired by the character from As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner.  Additional works written at Peabody include When I Have Fears, for baritone and orchestra, Alarm, for flute and live electronics, Escape, for bassoon quartet, Endurance, for Pierrot quintet, Ocean Mermaid, for MIDI controller, and Lake Pontchartrain, for string sextet.

A self-identifying romantic composer, Elliott explores topics that include literature, place, spirituality, and the human condition.  His largest work, Pluto, for clarinet and live electronics,  consists of five movements each evoking feelings of flying through space, gravitational forces, and rich colors.  Pranayama and Un Jardin are both spiritual works for fixed media that explore topics outside of the typical liturgy.

Elliott rates Escape, Rust Belt and Kings Highway / Stillwell Ave as his best acoustic works.  All three are about place.  The scene of Kings Highway serves as a back drop to a difficult personal place; Rust Belt is about an region of the United States and its culture.  His work for baritone voice and orchestra, When I Have Fears, ruminates on John Keats’ poem and the existential issues it presents.  while featuring Keatsian imagery such as bird songs and slow, sarabande-like rhythms.

Teachers include G. Bradley Bodine, Steven Coxe, Matthew Burtner, Kirk Nurock, Judah Adashi, Amy Beth Kirsten, Jason Eckardt, Michael Hersch,  and every musician who has taught him how to write for their instruments.