Alice Shields

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Alice Shields
Born (1943-02-18) February 18, 1943 (age 75)
Manhattan, New York, United States
GenresElectronic, Opera, classical

Alice Shields (born Alice F. Shields, Manhattan, New York, February 18, 1943) is an American classical composer. She is a respected electronic composer[1] particularly known for her cross-cultural work in opera.

As a performer, Shields has been a professional opera singer, performing both traditional and modern roles with the New York City Opera, Metropolitan Opera At-The-Forum, Washington National Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, the Lake George Opera Festival and other opera companies in the U.S. and Europe.

During the 1990s she intensively studied and performed South Indian Bharata Natyam dance-drama as a vocalist, performing nattuvangam, a form of South Indian rhythmic recitation with the Swati Bhise Bharata Natyam Dance Company, at venues including the United Nations, Asia Society and Wesleyan University. All Shields' compositions since 2000 reflect her immersion in Indian classical music and drama.

Shields earned three degrees from Columbia University including the Doctor of Musical Arts in music composition,[2] studying with Vladimir Ussachevsky, Jack Beeson, Otto Luening and Chou Wen-Chung. She served as Associate Director of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center and Director for Development of the Columbia University Computer Music Center. She has taught the psychology of Music as Professor of Psychology at New York University and lectures on the psychology of music at institutions including the Santa Fe Opera, CUNY Center for Developmental Neuroscience, International Society for Research on Emotion, American Psychological Association and the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis.

Her 2008 opera Criseyde is based on Geoffrey Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, and is sung in Middle English.[3] It premiered at the New York City Opera VOX Festival in May 2009.[4]

Shields' work is published by the American Composers Alliance:, and is recorded on Koch International Classics, New World, CRI, Tellus, Opus One and Albany Records.

Musical Works[edit]


  • Shaman, opera in 1 act (1987)
  • Wraecca, opera in 1 act (1989); Based on Gregorian Chant and Anglo-Saxon poems
  • Mass for the Dead, opera in 1 act (1993); libretto by the composer set in Latin, Greek & English, based on a ghost story and the Requiem Mass
  • Apocalypse, opera in 2 acts (1994); libretto by the composer, based on Greek, Gaelic, and Sanskrit texts; Choreography in Bharata Natyam style
  • Criseyde, opera in 2 acts (2008); libretto by the composer, resetting of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, sung in Middle English

Instrument and Electronics[edit]

  • Mioritza — Requiem for Rachel Corrie, for Trombone and Computer Music on Tape (2003)
  • Azure, for Flute, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Computer Music on Tape (2003); Composed in Todi raga, with a metrical cycle of twelve beats. Polyphonic.
  • Kyrielle, for solo Violin and Tape (2005); Based on Gregorian chants associated with the Virgin Mary.
  • The River of Memory, for solo Trombone and Computer Music (2008)


  • The Transformation of Ani, Recorded voice chants and singing from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. (1970)
  • Dust, in Hindustani Madhuwanti raga and Todi raga, with traditional Bharata Natyam jethi-s. (2001)
  • Shenandoah, for modern dance, based on oral histories of recent immigrants to the Shenandoah Valley. (2002)
  • The Mud Oratorio, Computer music for modern dance. (2003)


  • 13 - Opus One - 1976
  • ... The Serpent-Snapping Eye / Variations On A Theme By Davidovsky / Coyote - Composers Recordings Inc. (CRI) - 1984
  • Apocalypse - An Electronic Opera - Composers Recordings Inc. (CRI) - 1993
  • Shenandoah - Three Electronic Works - Albany Records - 2004
  • L'Amour De Moy / Trois Chansons De Noël / Six Songs From Poems Of Pablo Neruda / Elià - Opus One - ?


  1. ^ "America's Women Composers: Up from the Footnotes". Author(s): Jeannie G. Pool. Source: Music Educators Journal, Vol. 65, No. 5, (Jan., 1979), pp. 28-41. Published by: MENC: The National Association for Music Education. Stable URL: Accessed: 27 June 2008 16:44.
  2. ^ "Columbia Composers". Columbia Magazine. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  3. ^ "American Music Center". American Music Center. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  4. ^ "Spotlight on VOX: Alice Shields". New York City Opera. 2009. Archived from the original on September 10, 2014. Retrieved May 23, 2012.

External links[edit]