Celeste Oram

Celeste Oram is a composer and musician, of British and settler American heritage, who grew up in Aotearoa New Zealand and now lives in New York City.

Celeste's works are scenarios in which music-making is the catalyst for exploring sonic & social histories and micro-cultures. Encompassing instrumental writing, song & speech, electronics, visual media, theatre, and improvisation, Celeste’s work has been recognised by the 2017 CANZ Trust Fund Award, nominations for the 2020 & 2014 SOUNZ Contemporary Award, and the 2016 Kranichstein Composition Prize from the Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music, whose jury described her work as ‘strangely entertaining... engaging with history in a striking manner’ and ‘utterly relevant’.

Celeste's works have been made with the support and partnership of musicians & ensembles including the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Royal Danish Ballet, Ensemble Adapter (Berlin/Reykjavík), Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (NZ), NZSO National Youth Orchestra, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (UK), NZTrio, the American Modern Opera CompanyFonema Consort (NY), Arcus Collective (NY), Stroma (NZ), Longleash (NY), wasteLAnd (LA), Autoduplicity (LA), Steven Schick (CA), Stephen de Pledge (NZ), Callithumpian Consort (Boston), Song Company (Sydney), Sydney Piano Trio, Karlheinz Company (Auckland), Intrepid Music Project (Auckland); and presented in programmes including the Ultraschall Festival (Berlin), Ojai Festival (California), San Diego Symphony's Hearing the Future Festival, the Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music, the New Zealand International Arts Festival (Wellington), SICPP at the New England Conservatory, and the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

An ongoing project, Tautitotito, works with cherished collaborators (including Keir GoGwiltAlex TaylorRob ThorneBarbara ByersMadison Greenstone) to address legacies of settler-colonial cultures of music and listening. A live, long-form performance of Tautitotito was commissioned for the 2018 Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music, and received as a "deeply moving work" which, "more than any other work... [at Darmstadt], felt like a direct response to what it means to be alive in the world today". (TEMPO)

In a similar vein, another ongoing activity revolves around Vera Wyse Munro (1897-1966), a pioneering amateur radio operator and experimental violinist, including the reconstruction of her early-20thC radio equipment and the re-enactment of her telematic musical broadcasts.

As a conductor and lifelong choral musician, Celeste has served as assistant director of the San Diego Women's Chorus, director of the UC San Diego Chamber Singers, as well as musical director for several community & student productions of opera and musical theatre. As a scholar, Celeste has contributed feature music programmes to Radio New Zealand Concert, and peer-reviewed articles to Current Musicology (Columbia University), TEMPO (Cambridge University Press) & Naxos Musicology International.

Celeste holds a PhD in music composition from the University of California San Diego, and is an alumna of the University of Auckland.