Flannery Cunningham

Second Year Graduate Student in Composition and Musicology
103, Music Building

I am fascinated by vocal styling, illusion and auditory perception, and the performative possibilities of interactive electronics.  Above all, I aim to write music that surprises and delights. I grew up singing in choirs in central Minnesota; today my work ranges from solo vocal to choral pieces, instrumental chamber works, and dramatic forms such as opera and musical theater.  I have also scored, performed, and sound designed for theatrical and dance productions in the UK and New York.  In addition to acoustic ensembles, I write for live players with real-time electronics, always striving to create an environment that foregrounds the skills and musical voice of the performer.


Much of my work, whether it has audible words or not, deals with language in one way or another.  I am a poet and often write my own texts, both because I enjoy doing so and because I am interested in unusually tight linkages between text and musical structure; in my Into the Dark Air, for instance, two choirs at opposite ends of a pedestrian tunnel sing rhyming words that arrive in unison due to the delay created by the length of the space.  The technique is inspired by medieval polytextual motets, and 13th-15th-century music is a long-standing source of ideas about notation and the compositional process for me.  Indeed, I’m most attracted to both the very old and very new; I have presented on the 14th-century master (and fellow poet-composer) Guillaume de Machaut at the International Medieval Congress and performed with Cork-based electronic ensemble CAVE at the International Computer Music Conference.


I hold a BA from Princeton University, an MA from University College Cork as a Mitchell Scholar, and an MA from Stony Brook University.  My music has been performed in the US and internationally by groups such as Zeitgeist; the Cornell University Chorus; the Minnesota Center Chorale; and the 2016 Aspen Festival fellowship brass quintet, Anima Brass.