Flutist, Collaborative artist, Educator
Claire Chase, described by The New York Times recently as “the North Star of her instrument’s ever-expanding universe,” is a musician, interdisciplinary artist, and educator. Passionately dedicated to the creation of new ecosystems for the music of our time, Chase has given the world premieres of hundreds of new works by a new generation of artists, and in 2013 launched the 24-year commissioning project Density 2036. Now in its tenth year, Density 2036 reimagines the solo flute literature over a quarter-century through commissions, performances, recordings, education and an accessible archive at density2036.org. Chase co-founded the International Contemporary Ensemble in 2001, was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2012, and in 2017 was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize from Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Chase is currently Professor of the Practice of Music at Harvard University’s Department of Music, a Creative Associate at The Juilliard School, and a Collaborative Partner with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony. She is the Debs Creative Chair at Carnegie Hall for the 2022-23 season.
Claire Chase released the world premiere recordings of the first five years of the Density 2036 cycle in collaboration with Meyer Sound Laboratories in Berkeley, CA in December 2020, and will release the 2019-2021 cycles on a triple-album on New Focus Recordings in May 2023.
As an undergraduate at Oberlin Conservatory, Chase co-founded the International Contemporary Ensemble, a collective of musicians, digital media artists, producers, and educators committed to creating collaborations built on equity and cultural responsiveness. She served as the Ensemble’s artistic director until 2017 and as an ensemble member on performance and education projects on five continents, developing an artist-driven organizational model that earned the group the Trailblazer Award from the American Music Center in 2010 and the Ensemble of the Year Award in 2014 from Musical America Worldwide. George Lewis has recently been announced as the new artistic director of the International Contemporary Ensemble.
A deeply committed educator, Chase is Professor of the Practice in the Department of Music at Harvard University, where she teaches courses on contemporary music, interdisciplinary collaboration, nonprofit arts organizations, and community-building through the arts. Chase is also a Creative Associate at The Juilliard School, and the Flute Tutor at Darmstadt International Summer Courses. From 2016-2019, Chase served as co-artistic director, with her longtime collaborator Steven Schick, of Ensemble Evolution, a hybrid summer intensive designed to foster a holistic understanding of the artist as a global citizen at Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity in Canada. Ensemble Evolution is now a project of the International Contemporary Ensemble in collaboration with The New School's College of Performing Arts (CoPA) in New York City.
From 2014-2018, Chase was a Fellow at Project&, a Chicago-based social justice organization founded by Jane M. Saks. Chase collaborated with Project&, the composer Marcos Balter and the director Douglas Fitch on the creation of Pan, an evening-length musical drama for flutist and an all-ages ensemble of community members, which Alex Ross of The New Yorker called “art as grassroots action.” Pan will be presented this season in collaboration with the San Francisco Symphony, where Chase is a Collaborative Parter with Esa-Pekka Salonen, and at Cité de la Musique in Paris.
Upcoming projects include performances of Felipe Lara’s new duo concerto for Chase and Esperanza Spalding with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and New York Philharmonic, conducted by Susanna Mälkki; a collaboration with the Ecuadorian anthropologist Eduardo Kohn and the Sapara Nation Forest Defender Manari Ushigua on Pauline Oliveros’ “The Witness”; and performances of Liza Lim’s “Sex Magic,” an evening-length solo for contrabass flute, electronics, and an installation of kinetic percussion.
Chase grew up in Leucadia, CA with the childhood dream of becoming a professional baseball player before she discovered the flute. She lives in Brooklyn.