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Elena Ruehr is a composer whose music has been called “unspeakably gorgeous” (Gramophone Magazine) “stunning” (the Washington Examiner) “a rare gift” (The Boston Globe) “magical” (Audiophile Audition) and “elegant, top-shelf listening” (Classical Voice of New England) and she is a “composer to watch” (Opera New) who writes “music with heart and a forceful sense of character and expression.” (The Washington Post) Available recordings of Dr. Ruehr’s music include How She Danced: String Quartets of Elena Ruehr (Cypress String Quartet), Toussaint Before the Spirits (Arsis), Jane Wang considers the Dragonfly (Albany),and Shimmer (Albany).
She was composer-in-residence with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project from 2000-2005, and the orchestra premiered her pieces Shimmer, Sky Above Clouds and Ladder to the Moon, as well as her acclaimed opera Toussaint Before the Spirits. Three of her six string quartets were commissioned by the Cypress String Quartet, and they have also been performed by the Biava, Borromeo, Lark and Shanghai String Quartets. Through her long time collaboration with baritone Stephen Salters, she has become known for her vocal writing based on work of living writers including Elizabeth Alexander, Louise Glück, Laura Harrington, Marta Rainer, Madison Smart Bell, and Elizabeth Spires. In 2008 she was a fellow at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute, where she wrote her cantata based on Louise Glück’s Averno which will be premiered by the Washington Chorus in April, 2011 with a New York premiere at Trinity Church in May 2011.