Biography

Hello and welcome to this website, built to house my compositions. We had quite a lot of fun building it and I hope you enjoy exploring it.

The compositions it houses have accumulated over the years and were often composed to fill a specific need. For example, "A Fuzzy Fellow" was written for a musical using historical compositions, some dating far back in time, which set the poetry of Lewis Carroll from ALICE IN WONDERLAND and THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS. Lewis Carroll never wrote a poem about a caterpillar, so I set the poem by Emily Dickinson instead. I set "Like the murmur of the dove's song" by Carl P. Daw Jr. for the church choir I was conducting in response to a difficult time they were experiencing. "There will come soft rains" by Sarah Teasdale was set to express my deep anxiety about the human impact on the environment and my faith in nature's ability to heal itself, if given the chance. I set the "Snow Haiku" by Raymond Foss for the kindergarteners of the Altadena Children's Choir who had never experienced the absolute wonder and joy of snow. The piano composition "Life in a Petri Dish" was my puzzled reaction to an article I read in October, 2022 about STEM cells learning to play "Pong". Very often I was able to design a composition for the qualities of a specific voice or group of voices, or the accomplishments of a specific musician. So on and on it goes.

The question is: How did this happen? I originally started out as an obsessed young organist trying to build my skills and challenged by a mountain of amazing compositions accumulated over time by many individual composers and cultures. I studied all the classic disciplines of a young musician: Renaissance and Baroque Counterpoint, Form and Analysis, Keyboard Harmony, Improvisation, etc., etc., etc. As a young conductor of a small but diligent and enthusiastic church choir, I felt the need to develop my own skills as a singer. So on and on it went, until I morphed into who I am today.

I am so grateful to those who recognized my talent and encouraged me to continue developing. I could never have done it without all those wonderful people. As the Beatles so aptly put it:

"I get by with a little help from my friends
I get high* with a little help from my friends
gonna try with a little help from my friends"

*In this case, for me, the ultimate and most fulfilling "high" of all is music and the arts.

Karen Reinhard

A Guide on how to use this website

If you want to experience how a particular image affected me or the poet who wrote about it, click on the image in the Mosaics page. The Works page organizes each composition by category, gives information about what prizes it may have been awarded, evaluations it may have received and by whom and where it was initially performed. You can also access the recording of the piece by tapping on the Image associated with it there on the Works page.

Karen Reinhard

Works


SOLO VOICE OR SMALL VOCAL ENSEMBLES

Three perspectives on nature by American Poets

© 2022 • poetry by Emily Dickinson
Image: LFRabanedo / Shutterstock.com

© 2022 • poetry by Evelyn Flores
Image: Danita Delimont / Shutterstock.com

Thank you to the Academy of American Poets for permission to use this poem from their Poem-a-Day series.

© 2022 • poetry by Sarah Teasdale
Image: shutting / Shutterstock.com

Awarded 1st prize, MTAC Composers Today State Contest, Division 7 Teacher: Mature Work. Performed at the MTAC State Convention at the Hyatt Regency, Garden Grove, CA, July 2022 by Susan Montgomery Kinsey.

"Beautifully written for the voice, with interesting ties between the text and music ("singing, singing, singing" brings to mind the croaking of frogs in a pond, for instance). The overall shape is clear, and the song simply and effectively captures the spirit of the poem."

Evaluator's comments (2022)

Just So Stories Suite

© 2019 • poetry by Rudyard Kipling

Winner, Dominant Music Club Leila Webster Memorial Award in Composition, 2019. Performed at the Dominant Music Club 2019 Annual Banquet, at the Oakmont Country Club, in Glendale, California on May 18th, 2019


Snow Haiku, Nos. 1-6

© 2018

Thank you to Raymond Foss for permission to use his poetry.

  • Received score of 5 (highest possible score) MTAC Composers Today Symposium Division 10 Teacher: Teaching Piece
  • Invited to State Contest, 2019
  • Snow Haiku No. 1 contains quotations from Messiaen's Piano Prelude No. 1 and reflects an adult attitude towards the advent of winter. Haikus No. 2-6 reflect the fun filled attitudes of children. Snow Haikus No. 2-6 were first performed by the Pre-school and Kindergarten Division of the Altadena Children's Choir in 2012.

© 2018 • poetry by Emily Dickinson
Image: Sothorn / Shutterstock.com

Awarded 2nd prize, MTAC Composers Today State Contest, Division 7 Teacher: Mature Work. Performed at the MTAC State Convention at the Hyatt Regency, Garden Grove, CA, July, 2018 First performed by V.D., a gifted third grader, in the original production of ALICE IN WONDERLAND performed by the Altadena Children's Choir in 2009

"...setting of the poem is excellent, strongly in the humorous art song vein. Scansion is, for the most part, right on, making the poem easy to understand while providing a strong musical arc...This is delightful."

Evaluator M.G. (2018)

Animal Characters from the musical CRY OF THE GHOST WIND

Image: Vlada Cech / Shutterstock.com

"I really enjoyed listening to your composition and would like to see the entire production. I thought you had a very nice sense of melody, and your melodies wee very pleasing and captured the tone you were going for. Each song did a great job capturing a dramatic element that came across to the audience."

Evaluator P.S. (2020)

"These are very charming pieces, and I think they've got a lot of sweet humor and are cleverly set. I am curious about the overall context of the larger work, but I can guess it's quite a show."

" 'Thoughts of a Pelican' is really gorgeous. I love the layering with the voices. It's very beautiful."

Evaluator J.B. (2020)

SACRED CHORAL WORKS

© 2021
Image: Viacheslav Lopatin / Shutterstock.com

Awarded 2nd prize MTAC Composers Today State Contest Division 7 Teacher: Mature Work. Video recording played at the MTAC State Convention at the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara, July 2021

"As a Latin fan (I took two years of Latin in High School) and Astronomy bug, I loved the concept of your work! Your music is melodic and atmospheric. It sits in the voice registers very nice."

Evaluator's Comments (2021)

© 2019
Image: Skylines / Shutterstock.com

Thank you to Carl P. Daw Jr. for permission to use his poetry. Awarded 2nd prize, MTAC Composers Today State Contest, Division 7 Teacher: Mature Work. Video recording played at the MTAC State Convention at the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara, July 2019 First performed by the Cancel Choir of the Altadena Community Church in 1991.

"Clever presentation of the text, with the different voices adding one layer at a time, building the words "Come, Holy Spirit." The bells give a great atmospheric mood, while supporting the intonation of the choir. I'm sure they add to the visual element as well!

The flowing texture of the voices chanting these words provides a reverent canvas upon which to paint the main body of the text, and the pentatonic treatment of the melody evokes a timeless reference to devout worship. The step-wise motion of the voices in contrary motion maintain a tonal footing while creating gentle, expressive dissonances. This undulating effect mimics (I suppose) the movement of the Holy Spirit.

...Very well done! This is exactly the type and quality of music I love to experience in worship!"

Evaluator's Comments (2019)

SOLO PIANO

© 2022
Image: 32 pixels / Shutterstock.com

Received score of 5 (highest possible score) MTAC Composers Today Symposium, Division 10 Teacher: Teaching Piece. Invited to State Contest, 2022

"These are great pieces. I couldn't help but think about how much I loved playing Franz Waxman's etudes when I was learning piano, or the pieces for children by Bartok. These are absolutely in the same playing field. They're interesting, educational, and occasionally beautiful. That's not an easy balance to create."

Evaluator's comments (2022)

© 2022
Image: Irina Nartoua / Shutterstock.com

  • Part 1, “Brain cells in a lab dish learn to play Pong” NPR Oct. 14, 2022
  • Part 2, “The brain cells develop a consciousness”
  • Part 3, “The brain cells rail against the universe”
  • Part 4, “The brain cells transcend their limitations and float as ether, into the void.”

MUSICALS

A CASE OF IDENTITY by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

© 2022

Music and lyrics by Karen Reinhard

Written for and performed by the Altadena Children's Choir in 2006

Images: Sidney Edward Paget / VictorianWeb.org


© 2019 • poetry by Eleanor Rogers
Image: Andreia Bourscheid / Shutterstock.com

    Dedicated to Juana Maria whose life inspired ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS

  • Music by Karen Reinhard, Songs 1, 8, and 14 composed by Jim Sage
  • Lyrics by Eleanor Rogers
  • Written for and performed by the Altadena Children's Choir in 2002

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