Assistant Professor of Composition Annika Socolofsky (ANN-ih-kuh sew-co-LAWV-skee)—who also serves as CU Boulder SoundWorks faculty coach and committee chair—is a composer and avant-folk vocalist who explores corners and colors of the voice frequently deemed to be “untrained” and not “classical.” Socolofsky has also taught at Carnegie Mellon University and Concordia University Ann Arbor.
Described as “unbearably moving” (Gramophone) and “just the right balance between edgy precision and freewheeling exuberance” (The Guardian), her music erupts from the embodied power of the human voice, and is communicated through mediums ranging from orchestral and operatic works to unaccompanied folk ballads and unapologetically joyous Dolly Parton covers.
Socolofsky writes extensively for her own voice with chamber ensemble, including composing a growing repertoire of “feminist rager-lullabies” titled “Don’t Say a Word,” which serves to confront centuries of damaging lessons taught to young children by retelling old lullaby texts for a new, queer era. Socolofsky has taken “Don’t Say a Word” on the road, performing with ensembles including Eighth Blackbird, New European Ensemble, Albany Symphony, Knoxville Symphony, Latitude 49 and Contemporaneous. Her follow-up feminist rager-lullaby song cycle in collaboration with ~Nois, “I Tell You Me,” was recognized by the Chicago Tribune as “grotesquely gorgeous … among the most captivating compositions heard the whole festival [Ear Taxi 2021]” and was included in their “Chicago’s Top 10 for classical music, opera and jazz that defined 2021.”
As a composer, Socolofsky has collaborated with artists such as the Rochester Philharmonic, Albany Symphony, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, Eighth Blackbird, Third Coast Percussion, So Percussion, Asko|Schönberg, Möbius Percussion, Contemporaneous, Latitude 49, Music from Copland House, ~Nois, Bergamot Quartet, marimbist Ji Hye Jung, Bang on a Can All-Stars cellist Arlen Hlusko and sean-nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, among others. Recent and upcoming projects include a climate activist work for TorQ Percussion and the Elora Singers, an EP for her own voice and Friction Quartet, a Dolly Parton-meets-queer “Love Actually” subversive country mini-opera for Quince, and a micro-documentary on small business owners with XUAN and Akropolis Reed Quintet. Her music has been presented at Carnegie Hall, the Bang on a Can Marathon, PROTOTYPE, Cabrillo Festival, Italian Society of Contemporary Music, American Music Festival, Northwestern New Music Institute, New Music Detroit’s Strange Beautiful Music and Listening to Ladies.
Socolofsky is a recipient of the 2021 Gaudeamus Award, the 2019 Cortona Prize, an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award, a BMI Student Composer award, and grants from Harvard University’s Fromm Foundation and the Barlow Endowment. She has been awarded fellowships to the Blackbird Creative Lab, Banff Centre for the Arts, Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Bang on a Can Summer Festival, CULTIVATE at Copland House, Brevard Music Center and the European American Musical Alliance, and has served as Stone Composer Fellow to the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival. Her research focuses on the music of Dolly Parton to create a pedagogical approach to composition that is inclusive of many vocal timbres, inflections and techniques, evading the age-old false dichotomy of straight tone vs. bel canto vocal style.
Socolofsky earned a PhD in composition from Princeton University, and studied at the University of Michigan and Carnegie Mellon University. Her primary musical mentors include Evan Chambers, Kristin Kuster, Juri Seo, Dan Trueman and Reza Vali. She plays a Norwegian hardanger d’amore 5x5 fiddle made by Salve Håkedal.