Nina Shekhar (b. 1995) is a composer who explores the intersection of identity, vulnerability, love, and laughter to create bold and intensely personal works. Her music has been performed in concert by leading artists including Eighth Blackbird, International Contemporary Ensemble, Albany Symphony, ETHEL, violinist Jennifer Koh, Ensemble Échappé, Music from Copland House, soprano Tony Arnold, Third Angle New Music, The New York Virtuoso Singers, Lyris Quartet, Ray-Kallay Duo, New Music Detroit, and Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra and has been featured by Carnegie Hall, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Walt Disney Concert Hall (LA Phil’s Noon to Midnight), National Gallery of Art, National Sawdust, National Flute Association, North American Saxophone Alliance, I Care if You Listen, WNYC/New Sounds and WFMT radio, ScoreFollower, TUTTI Festival, Blackbird Creative Lab, Copland House’s CULTIVATE, Bowdoin International Music Festival, New Music on the Point, New Music Detroit’s Strange Beautiful Music, and Detroit REVIVAL Project in collaboration with dance troupe ArtLab J. Her piece Quirkhead, about O.C.D. and mental illness, is scheduled to be featured in an upcoming PBS documentary chronicling the inaugural Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music. Current projects include commissions for the Albany Symphony, JACK Quartet (sponsored by National Sawdust), 45th Parallel Universe chamber orchestra, saxophonist Timothy McAllister, Quadre, the first ever commission for LA’s HEAR NOW Festival for the Lyris Quartet, and a First Music chamber commission for the New York Youth Symphony to be premiered at Carnegie Hall and Interlochen Center for the Arts. Recent and upcoming performances include numerous performances by multi-Grammy winning super-group Eighth Blackbird on their 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 seasons and a featured performance at National Sawdust sponsored by the Hildegard Competition. Nina is a two-time recipient of the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award (2015 and 2019) and the recipient of the 2018 ASCAP Foundation Leonard Bernstein Award, funded by the Bernstein family.
Aside from composing, Nina is a versatile performing artist. As a flutist, she studied with Amy Porter and previously with Holly Clemans. Nina has previously performed in masterclasses given by flutists Claire Chase, Tim Munro, composer/flutist Ian Clarke, and electronic flute duo Flutronix. She has also premiered fellow composers’ works at the Midwest Composers Symposium and the New Music on the Point Summer Festival. As a pianist, she has performed in the Poland International Piano Festival as a soloist with the Lublin Philharmonic and studied under Tomoko Mack and previously Brenda Krachenberg. Nina was selected to perform in the Detroit International Jazz Festival with her jazz band in 2012 and 2013 as lead alto saxophonist.
Nina is currently pursuing her PhD in Music Composition at Princeton University. She recently completed composition graduate studies at the University of Southern California, studying with Ted Hearne, Andrew Norman, and Nina Young and serving as an aural skills and composition teaching assistant. Nina has also given guest lectures at Portland State University and Concordia University. She is currently serving as an inaugural Debut Fellow of the Young Musicians Foundation, mentored by violinist and social activist Vijay Gupta. Nina completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan, earning dual degrees in music composition and chemical engineering. Her previous mentors include Evan Chambers, Bright Sheng, Kristin Kuster, Michael Daugherty, Erik Santos, Gabriela Lena Frank, Derek Bermel, and James Hartway.
Name note: Nina pronounces her name as “NEE-nuh SHAY-ker” (last name pronounced like pepper “shaker”). Please note that her last name is spelled with two H’s.
Bio by Nina Shekhar