Jessica Rudman is a Connecticut-based composer whose recent works engage with contemporary social themes through realistic or fantastical frames. Described as a “new music ninja” (Hartford Advocate), her style unifies melodic development and narrative structures with extended techniques to create an intense emotional expression. Her works for the concert hall, dance, and film often differ in language and approach, with the common thread always being expressivity. She believes that the ability to reach one’s audience is of extreme importance in our current social, economic, and political environment.
In 2018, Jessica’s chamber opera Marie Curie Learns to Swim (libretto by Kendra Preston Leonard) was premiered by Hartford Opera Theater. The work explores the life the notable scientist through flashbacks during a vacation with her daughter, and focuses on her experiences as a woman in a male-dominated field and an immigrant in her adopted country. Other recent compositions focused on social justice themes include the mini-opera Trigger, which features a woman’s response to domestic violence; A Curious Incident with the Queen, which uses a children’s story to explore economic oppression and political powerlessness; and Gaslight Variations, a solo for microtonal flute with glissando head joint that treats thematic variation as an analogy for the phenomena of gaslighting. Upcoming projects include a song cycle inspired by Slavic mythology and an opera about the gorgons.
Jessica’s compositions have been presented across the United States, Europe, and South America by ensembles including the International Contemporary Ensemble, the Riot Ensemble, the Cadillac Moon Ensemble, the Omaha Symphony’s Chamber Orchestra, the Yakima Symphony Orchestra, the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra, and others. Rudman also writes extensively for student and community ensembles, recently completing commissions for the Connecticut Region 14 Band program, the Connecticut Children’s Choir, the First Unitarian Church of Portland (OR), and the Astoria Choir. Many of these commissions involved collaborative residencies: for example, Masks for concert band is based on melodic fragments that the students composed, and Of Equality for children’s choir combines a text by Walt Whitman with responses by the students.
Jessica is currently the Head of Composition and Musicianship at the Hartt Community Division, where she also directs the Hartt Preparatory Academy. She has taught at The Hartt School, Central Connecticut State University, Eastern Connecticut State University, and Baruch College. Highly involved in the new music community as a concert organizer and music educator, Rudman volunteers with the Women Composers Festival of Hartford, where she runs the student workshop.
As a theorist, Jessica has presented papers on Ligeti and Zwilich at meetings of the New England Conference of Music Theorists (NECMT), the West Coast Conference of Music Theory and Analysis, the National Student Electronic Music Event, and various SCI regional conferences. She has also presented research on the Greek Genera at the European Music Analysis Conference in 2014.
Jessica holds a B.A. with Distinction in Music from the University of Virginia, a M.M. in Music Composition from The Hartt School, and an A.D. in Music Composition, also from Hartt. In 2015, she completed her Ph.D. at the City University of New York, where she was awarded an Enhanced Chancellor’s Fellowship. Other honors include winning the Riot Ensemble’s Commissioning Competition, the Robert Starer Award, the Boston Metro Opera’s Advocacy Award, the College Music Society Student Composer Award, the NewMusic@ECU Orchestra Composition Competition, and IAWM’s Libby Larsen Prize.
Jessica is a 2019 Connecticut Artist Fellow, with support from the Connecticut Office of the Arts, which also receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.