Elizabeth Start

Musical Philosophy:

My music is generally linked to specific performers, places, or purposes.  This has created a wide range of idioms and styles. Regardless of those connections, I write for repeatability and a flexibility in and desire for subsequent performances.  Though not tonal in a traditional sense, I believe I generally leave the listener with a sense of departure to a perhaps challenging territory and return to stability and some degree of comfort.  Being a performer myself, I always want performers to enjoy playing my music, and hope audiences will want to hear it more than once.

Musical Upbringing:

I played the cello from an early age, starting in the public schools, but never believed I’d be a musician.  After a bout with a math/science scholarship in college, I admitted all I really wanted to do (at that time) was play the cello.  But, I finished the math degree anyway.

I played a lot of new music as an undergrad, and I thought for years that composers had some mystical knowledge that I could never grasp. While at Northern Illinois University working on a masters degree in cello, I took a class in 20th compositional century techniques from a remarkable composer/violinist named Paul Steg.  He structured the class in such a way that you didn’t have to take the final exam if you wrote a piece each week.  I figured it didn’t have to be any good, just show that I understood the techniques of the week, so took the no final option.  About half-way through the semester, Steg convinced me I should study composition.  Until his death, I would periodically send him recordings of what he was responsible for unleashing on the world.

Non-musical Interests:

I love fly-fishing for trout. Or just fly-fishing–it over-rides all concerns both mental and physical. I love good beer but am frustrated by desire to stay gluten-free when possible.  I will never be able to keep my home organized and will accept help from all quarters.  I could not juggle all I do without substantial help and understanding from family  and friends, whom I hope I thank adequately.

Elizabeth has been commissioned by ACM in 2016 for Doors Open Milwaukee and in 2015 and 2018 for the Sound of Silent Film Festival.