about clarice assad

Brazilian-American Clarice Assad is a Grammy nominated composer, pianist, bandleader, vocalist and educator of musical depth and versatility.  Described by the San Francisco Chronicle as "a serious triple threat", Assad is a highly prolific and commissioned composer. Carefully crafted colorful textures permeate her vibrant and soulful musical world, which embraces a wide variety of styles, including her own original concepts.  

This spring season brings some exciting events. Assad is curating this year's New York Festival of Song, which will highlight works from well established Brazilian composers, paired with lesser known composers and contemporaries; world premieres include the world premiere of a concerto for two guitars and orchestra in Tichy, Poland; and an east coast premiere of Dreamscapes by the American Composers Orchestra. Assad will be representing Albany Symphony's educational program by taking her workshop VOXploration to the Kennedy Center, in Washington DC, and she is working on an educational program for children in Englewood, Chicago. This fall also brings two album releases featuring her ballet for orchestra Sin Fronteras, commissioned by the Chicago Sinfonietta, and Metamorfose - written for 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient violist Matthew Lipman. Both works will be released on Cedille Records.

Recent commissions include a concerto for Dame Evelyn Glennie and works for the New Century Chamber Orchestra and Chanticleer. Assad is currently working on new commissions, including a double piano concerto, a new work commissioned by the International Trumpet Guild and a collaboration between the PDX Contemporary Ballet and the Northwest Piano Trio.

Her music has been commissioned by Carnegie Hall, the Orquestra Sinfônica de São Paulo, the Chicago Sinfonietta, General Electric, Sybarite5, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's ensemble Opus One, the Ocean Reef Music Festival, Cedille Records, the Concordia Chamber Players, the BRAVO! Vail Music Festival and the La Jolla Music Festival, to name a few. Her works have been recorded by some of the most prominent names in the classical contemporary music scene today, including Dame Evelyn Glennie, Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Ida Kavafian; pianist Anne-Marie McDermott flutist Eugenia Zuckerman and oboist Liang Wang. She has also written extensively for active members of the new music scene in the US such as the Cavatina Duo, SOLI ensemble and the all male choir Chanticleer. As an arranger, she has served as the New Century Chamber Orchestra's primary arranger from 2007-2017, orchestrating hefty works such as Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, Richard Strauss' Dance of the Seven Veils and the suite An American in Paris, by G. Gershwin.

Assad has served as composer-in-residence for the Albany Symphony, the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and the Boston Landmarks Orchestra.  Ms. Assad is the recipient of such awards as the Aaron Copland Award, several ASCAP awards in composition, Meet The Composer's Van Lier Fellowship, League of American Orchestras, New Music USA, NPR’s All Songs Considered, the Mcknight Visiting Composer Fellowship, the Jerome Foundation, The American Composers Forum National Composition Competition, the Franklin Honor Society, as well as a nomination from the Grammy Foundation for best contemporary composition.  Ms. Assad has been an artist in residence at the MacDowell Colony, the Harrison House, the American Lyric Theater and the Yaddo Colony.

As a performer, Assad has shared the stage with Bobby McFerrin, Anat Cohen, Nadia Sirota, Paquito D’Rivera, Tom Harrell, Marilyn Mazur, Mike Marshall among other outstanding musicians, and she is the founder of the international ensemble OFF THE CLIFF, featuring percussionist Japanese Keita Ogawa, Danish bassist Thomas Fonnesbaek and Brazilian guitarist João Luiz Rezende.

She has performed at venues and festivals including Jazz at Lincoln Center, Katara in Doha, Qatar, the Caramoor International Jazz Festival, Carnegie hall, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Concertgebow San Francisco Jazz, Le Casino de Paris in Paris, the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels, and Jazz Montmartre in Copenhagen. She has appeared as a singer with numerous orchestras and ensembles, including the Michigan Philharmonic, the Chicago Composers Orchestra and the Salt Lake City Big Band Orchestra, to name a few. Assad, who has been hailed by the LA Times as “a dazzling soloist,”   sings in Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian and English, but thrives in exploring the voice as an instrument, creating a vast array of innovative textures and incorporating an exciting vocabulary of extended techniques into her music. Such interest in the human voice, combined with her remarkable orchestration skills led her to write the first scat singing concerto in history, which she performs frequently with orchestras around the world.    

A passionate educator, Clarice is the founder of the award-winning workshop VOXploration - which aims to explore the body and voice as a musical instrument for improvised music and as a compositional tool. Often paired with theater and dance, Assad has worked extensively with several multi-disciplinarian artists and organizations on large scale projects involving singers, dancers and audience members.

Assad’s music is represented on Cedille Records, SONY Masterworks, Nonsuch, Adventure Music, Edge, Nonsuch, Telarc, NSS Music, GHA, and CHANDOS labels. Her latest album, titled “IMAGINARIUM”, features over 50 guests: a combination of professional and amateur instrumentalists and singers, which  has received stunning reviews from Jazz Times, Jazz Weekly and World Music Report, among other publications.  The album was rated “the most startling Brazilian jazz album in years” and Assad was voted highly among the “Top 10 artists influencing Brazilian music today” by Wondering Sound.  

In Brazil, Assad has collaborated with renowned musicians in the music scene ranging from an incredible array of styles and genres such as wind player Carlos Malta, percussionist Naná Vasconcelos, cellist and producer Jacques Morelenbaum, rapper Ramonzin, pop singer Byafra, among others. As a child, Clarice sang and recorded on numerous jingles for radio and television, as well as albums including tracks for the Bahian pop singer sensation Luiz Caldas. During adolescence, she worked on several musicals as an arranger and pianist, under the tutelage of playwright and composer Tim Rescala.

She holds a Bachelor of Music degree with honors from the Roosevelt University and a Master of Music degree from The University of Michigan School of Music, where she studied with Michael Daugherty, Susan Botti and Evan Chambers. Her works are published in France (Editions Lemoine), Germany (Trekel), Criadores do Brasil (Brazil) and independently by Virtual Artists Collective Publishing, (VACP) a publishing company co-founded with poet and philosopher Steve Schroeder.  On its 10 year anniversary, VACP has published 55 volumes of poetry and music.  Assad lives in Chicago, IL and is currently a board member of the Old Town School of Folk Music.