The majority of Vanessa Lann’s compositions include aspects of ritual, ceremony or contemplation. She is interested in breaking with the conventional concert-hall approach to the performance and programming of music, and she frequently experiments with alternative ways of sharing sound, other media and time with audiences, often hoping to blur the boundary between art and daily experience. In her music Lann uses the repetition of recognizable figures, as well as layers of structures based on number ratios, to create a world in which each subtle element has a distinct meaning. In many works she explores the listener’s perception of continuity, infinity and silence, as well as the shifting psychological relationship between foreground and background material, or between performer and audience.
Vanessa Lann was born on April 6, 1968 in New York.
Vanessa Lann has been a composer and pianist since the age of five. She studied composition with Ruth Schonthal at the Westchester Conservatory of Music, where she received the William Petchek Scholarship. For two summers she was a scholarship student at the Tanglewood Institute. She was graduated summa cum laude from the music department of Harvard University (composition, theory, musicology, piano performance, conducting), where her teachers included Earl Kim, Leon Kirchner and Peter Lieberson.
In addition to her music courses, Lann studied film theory and physics. In 1990, Vanessa Lann was awarded the Harvard University John Knowles Paine Travelling Fellowship, which brought her to The Netherlands for further study in music composition. She received her Diploma with highest honors in 1993 from the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, where her teachers included Theo Loevendie, Gilius van Bergeijk and Louis Andriessen.
While studying, she directed the Harvard Group For New Music and was co-founder of the Harvard Group For Gender Studies In Music. She also produced and announced radio feature programs (WHRB, Cambridge) and worked as music director for productions at the American Repertory Theater.
At present, Lann lives and works as a composer and pianist in The Netherlands. She is also a Professor of Music at Webster University in Leiden, where she enjoys combining musicological studies with other related fields. Vanessa Lann also works as a visiting lecturer at individual events and cultural series on topics involving music, art, history and society. Besides, Lann is frequently invited to give pre-concert introductions and interviews at a wide range of performance spaces. Furtermore, she advises schools and other educational institutions on their policies and programs to optimize engagement and stimulate inspirational trajectories in teaching and learning environments for students of all ages.
Some recent works include: ‘Gardener of the Stream’ (2003) and ‘The Flames of Quietude’ (2006) for symphony orchestra; ‘Divining Apollo’ for cello and ensemble (2008); ‘O Whispering Suns’ for violin, cymbalom and double choir (2001); ‘Lullabye for a Young Girl Dreaming’ (1991) and ‘Landscape of a Soul’s Remembering‘ (2006) for string quartet; and ‘Double | Reed’ for bassoon and chamber orchestra (2014). This piece is the third of five recently-commissioned concertos for unusual instruments in the Doelen Concert Hall’s “Rotterdam Concerto” series. Lann’s 2015 orchestral arrangement of her own work, ‘Dancing to an Orange Drummer‘ (original version for large ensemble, 1993), was performed on request by the Boston Pops Orchestra and will receive more than 15 European performances in the 2016/2017 season.
Lann won the New York Music Teachers Association “Herbert Zipper Prize”, the New York Musicians Club “Bohemians Prize” and the Harvard University “Hugh F. MacColl Prize”.
Throughout her career Vanessa Lann has continued to receive prizes and awards for her music. In 1993, Lann’s work for orchestra “Madness and the Moonwoman” was awarded the Nederlands Balletorkest Prize of a performance in the 25-year jubilleum concert of the Nederlands Balletorkest under the direction of David Porcelijn. Her work for piano solo ‘Inner Piece’ won a prestigious Amsterdam Arts Foundation Composition Prize in 1995. This work also won the 1997 Boswil International Composition Competition (Switzerland) and the 1998 Collegium Novum Competition (USA). In 1997, Vanessa Lann was featured in a Dutch television documentary which focused on her music and on the compact disc recording of her work for large ensemble ‘Dancing to an Orange Drummer’. In 2015 the ATTACCA label released a compilation CD entitled “moonshadow sunshadow”, featuring seven works from the past 25 years (ATT 2015146, available atwww.attaccaproductions.com).