Trans Composer Spotlight
Trans Composer Spotlights
Name: Michael Bussewitz-Quarm
From: New York
Genre: Classical, Choral
Passionate about advocacy through choral music, Michael Bussewitz-Quarm is an award-winning New York-based composer, conductor, and speaker. His choral work, “I’ll Fly Away”, received its Canadian premiere upon selection to the International Society of Contemporary Music’s New Music Days 2017 in Vancouver, B.C. by the acclaimed vocal group, musica intima. Michael’s most recent works include the commissioned work “The Road That Has No End”, “Nigra Sum", and Requiem Dies Magna, which premiered September 2017 by Long Island Voices and Sound Symphony under Michael’s direction. His works have been premiered by youth voices, church choirs, professional singers and community choruses throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and the Middle East.
First and foremost a composer, Michael created the “Child Refugee Awareness" and “Hope for Recovery” Choral Consortiums, both premiered in the fall of 2017, and is in the process of creating the upcoming consortium, “The Great American Choral Reef” for Earth Day, 2019. With these songs, Michael hopes to bring attention to children of the global refugee crisis, families struggling with opioid addiction, as well as climate change. The cornerstone work of his catalog, Requiem Dies Magna, composed with the intention of healing and to honor the first responders and survivors of the 9/11 attacks, has grown to speak to all who have survived the loss of a loved one. and the complex stages of grief and the path to finding peace. The first edition of Requiem Dies Magna premiered in 2010, and broadcast on Public Radio East.
Michael’s works have been broadcast on Public Radio East, performed by musica intima, the Gregg Smith Singers, Long Island Symphonic Choral Association, Harmonium Choral Society, and SoLI among other exceptional choral ensembles.
Michael often collaborates with poet Shantel Sellers, a proud tribal member the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians of Peshawbestown, Michigan.
Michael can be reached through his website,
Why?: “Being a trans composer not only comes with great challenges, but also great rewards. I have chosen to live my life with authenticity, true to who I am, for both my sake and for the people in my life.
Living my truth has attracted more people to my music then ever in my past. And my hope is that my presence in the classical and choral communities will give other trans musicians strength as well. “
Composition & Arranging
- Use inclusive part names (e.g. sopranos and altos rather than women and men).
- Include your pronouns on your scores.
- Use texts/poetry from transgender and non-binary writers.
- Explore non-heteronormative themes in music
- Consider vocal range
- Stream & Play music by Trans & Non-Binary Artists
Any other ideas? Contact us below so we can add them!
Name: Mari Esabel Valverde
From: North Texas
Genre: vocal, choral, and chamber music
Award-winning composer and singer Mari Esabel Valverde has been commissioned by the American Choral Directors Association, Texas Music Educators Association, Seattle Men’s and Women’s Choruses, and Boston Choral Ensemble among others and has appeared with Dallas Chamber Choir, Vox Humana, and EXIGENCE (Detroit). She was a featured composer at the 2016 Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses Festival, where her “Our Phoenix” was premièred by six collective ensembles from the United States and Canada. Her works are published by earthsongs, Santa Barbara Music Publishing, and Walton Music and self-published.
Fluent in Spanish and French, she actively studies Brazilian Portuguese and Swedish. She has translated numerous vocal works and documents including a phonetic guide of Ravel’s opera L’Enfant et les Sortilèges. Based in North Texas, she has taught voice at the high school level for five years. Her former students, many of whom have participated in All-State Choirs and Solo Competition, are represented in over a dozen collegiate programs.
She holds degrees from St. Olaf College, the European American Musical Alliance in Paris, France, and San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She is a member of the American Choral Directors Association and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).
Why?: Whatever your story is, whatever your circumstances are, we must encourage each other to lead our most honest lives. While it is not always safe to be yourself in certain spaces and certain times, we can only begin worthwhile conversations on justice and greater belonging once we have connected to our most vulnerable selves.
I often say to other transgender people that we are survivors and to others that our existence is a revolutionary act, but my chosen path as a composer has truthfully little to do with my being transgender. Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon trans people with platforms to dispel the stigma routinely projected upon our bodies and to recount our own experiences.
There is sensitivity, empathy, and resilience through this lens.
Name: bri solomon
Based: New York City
Genre: opera/music theatre
Nonbinary artist brin solomon writes words and music in several genres and is doing their best to queer all of them. After majoring in composition at Yale University, solomon earned their MFA in Musical Theatre Writing at NYU/Tisch in 2018. Their full-length musical Window Full of Moths has been hailed for its "extraordinary songs" that "add magic to otherwise ordinary lives", and their latest one-act, Have You Tried Not Being A Monster, has been described as "agitprop for Julia Serano".dies and to recount our own experiences.
Twitter: @nonstandardrep; Facebook @BrinSolomonComposer; Mastodon: @firstname.lastname@example.org
Name: Penrose Marcos Allphin
Genre: choral/vocal & chamber
Penrose Marcos Allphin (they/them) is a gay genderqueer composer. They have been composing, playing the piano, and singing in choirs since they were very small. Penrose has taught piano to students ranging in age from 7 to 88, and has designed and tailored much of their elementary piano and theory curriculum. They have several years of experience playing in pit orchestras and music directing, as well as administrative experience at music nonprofits. They are currently writing a master's thesis on trans composers and hope to continue to pursue graduate level gender studies. In their spare time, they enjoy cross-stitching, baking and playing with Percy, their cat.
Name: Nebal Maysaud
Based: Washington DC
Genre: Arabic & Contemporary
Nebal Maysaud is an award-winning queer Lebanese Druze composer based in the Washington D.C. metro area. A recipient of the first Kluge Young Composer’s Competition and the James Ming Prize in Composition at Lawrence University, Maysaud converges Western and Middle Eastern classical music styles to explore questions of faith, identity, and power.
Their music has been performed by the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, Juventas New Music Ensemble, and Lawrence University Wind Ensemble and Opera Department; and also featured in Art Song Lab 2016 and the District New Music Conference 2018.
They have contributed articles about diversity and classical music to NewMusicBox and convened community music workshops at YallaPunk 2019. Maysaud studied with composer Mark Camphouse before entering the studios of John Benson, Andrew Cole, Dirk D’Ase, Joanne Metcalf, and Asha Srinivasan. They hold a B.M. in Music Composition from Lawrence University.