Described as “shimmering” (The New York Times), “ethereal” (The Society for New Music), and “lustrous” (San Francisco Classical Voice), the music of Eleanor Aversa has been honored with national awards such as the Northridge Composition Prize (Hero’s Welcome for orchestra) and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the I-Park Foundation, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Other honors include the Brian M. Israel Prize from the New York Federation of Music Clubs (Movement for String Quartet), as well as awards and grants from ASCAP, the Queens Council on the Arts, and the American Composers Forum. She was the 2013 Composer-Not-in-Residence for San Francisco Choral Artists.
Often spiritual, humorous, or thought-provoking, Aversa’s work has been performed across the United States, including venues such as the Boston Conservatory, the Bowdoin International Music Festival, June in Buffalo, Symphony Space, and Tanglewood. Her electroacoustic works have been presented at Ball State University, California State University at Fullerton, the Disjecta Contemporary Art Center of Oregon, and the Música Viva Festival of Portugal.
A major musical influence has been the Russian tradition. After earning a degree in Russian Language and Literature from Princeton, Aversa lived in the Moscow area from 2002 to 2004, working as an English teacher and translator. She also immersed herself in the local musical life, accompanying a harpist at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory and singing in the choir of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, performing both Latin and Russian Orthodox sacred music. From these involvements, her work absorbed elements of folk melody, quasi-modal harmony, and asymmetrical meter.
Aversa’s music has been performed by Amanda Baker of the Janus Trio, cellist David Requiro, violinist Ellen dePasquale, the International Orange Chorale of San Francisco, clarinetist Jean Kopperud, the Juventas New Music Ensemble, neoLIT, San Francisco Choral Artists, and Second Instrumental Unit. She has collaborated with members of the Aeolian Chamber Players, Alarm Will Sound, Astral Artists, the Daedalus Quartet, Dolce Suono, Network for New Music, and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, as well as with installation artist Mie Preckler, sculptor Charlotte McFarland, poet Joseph Dorazio, and choreographer Danuta Petrow-Sek. Aversa holds a master’s degree in composition from the Aaron Copland School of Music and a doctorate in composition from the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied on a Benjamin Franklin Fellowship. Her principle teachers are James Primosch, Jay Reise, Bruce Saylor, and Anna Weesner.
As a theorist, Aversa’s research concerns the perception of contemporary concert music. She has published in Music Theory Online and presented at the conference of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition. Her science training began with courses in physics and physiological psychology in the Columbia University Science Honors Program, followed by a research fellowship at New York Medical College during a gap year between high school and university. While at Princeton she continued to study biology, physiological psychology, and chemistry. Based on the research conducted during her fellowship, Aversa co-authored the paper “Hypoxia-Induced Production of 12-Hydroxyeicosanoids in the Corneal Epithelium: Involvement of a Cytochrome P-4504B1 Isoform” published in The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. Her current research interests involve the effects of visual stimuli on music perception, especially as it relates to music pedagogy.