Miriam Gerberg

Art Form(s)

Music, Theater



[email protected]

I am interested in collaborative work.

St. Paul

Artist Statement

I work with musical styles and forms, especially those from the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Asia as a performer of those traditions and in my compositional work. I also work in music-drama formats which lend themselves to accessibility and collaboration and intercultural/interdenominational interactions. I especially enjoy having an ongoing, developing relationship with the organizations interested in working with me musically and with their communities. I have a long history of residencies and ongoing-collaborations in many different kinds of settings (professional music groups, community groups, educational schools and institutes and theater and dance companies). Each residency has usually included commissions and integrated, interactive projects with community members. Examples of collaborative projects have included: Co-creating music-dance-dramas at Mount Zion Temple in St Paul on the story of Jonah with children in the congregation for performance during the Yom Kippur service, and also a Mother’s Day music/poetry/performance co-created with mothers and their children. Also, a similar project at the St. Paul Talmud Torah helping the students develop a new opera work about Jewish-American Pioneer Life. (I’ve done many of these kinds of projects in public school settings as well on a variety of topics). With professional music ensembles a method I often employ is to have them work on a draft of my piece which I then modify, when I hear them work with it, to suit their skills and needs. This worked very well with "Hadiqah" a choral work based on Moroccan Jewish women’s songs for the Calliope Women’s Chorus of Minneapolis and my suite for Arabic oud and orchestra "Fasl Taiseer". I have also collaborated in more dramatic settings with musicians, choreographers and theater directors on many works over the years, most with recently with Green T Productions which produces physical theater based on Asian dance drama forms (i.e. Kabuki, Noh, Peking Opera, etc) for which I have composed and performed evening-length original music for numerous projects (Rashomon, Tales of Kaidan, 2001:Space Odyssey). I enjoyed a 15 year collaboration with the late choreographer/dancer John Munger creating work challenging humanity’s foibles and contradictions. In addition to being a composer I am also a performer and scholar of specific world musics: Middle Eastern (Arabic, Turkish and Mizrachi Jewish), Eastern Europe (klezmer and Balkan) and Asian (Japanese and Indonesian) musics. I have worked extensively in ways to incorporate these traditional musics into my original works. I’ve also studied with musicians from Latin American and African traditions. And I teach these musics at Hamline University. I self-produce many of my projects (as well as curating programs of other artists, particularly world musicians). Examples include my "Days of Awe", a staged structured improvisational work for 4 women’s voices and drone based on melodies and service structure of the Jewish High Holiday services; the initial staging of "Dressing the Moon", my chamber opera based on a story by Rebbi Nachman and most recently "Desert Dreams: Naomi and Ruth" a music-dance-drama collaboration with South Indian musician Nirmala Rajasekar based on the biblical book of Ruth. This project, which received funding from the State Arts Board and the Jewish community, was one that delved deeply into the areas of social justice and women’s lives, of which I am very interested in continuing to explore. I have written vocal works in various formats: choral, chamber ensemble, solos and duets (including for theater and opera - whose songs are often performed separately) and chamber instrumental works as well as pieces that interweave both vocal and instrumental aspects. Sometime I have layered composed sound tapes (electronic and live-sounds collages) with live performance as well.

Miriam Gerberg – Composer, performer, ethnomusicologist                   

• Miriam Gerberg has written commissions for chamber orchestra, opera, music theater, theater, choirs and for dance which have been performed across the U.S., in Israel, Palestine, Holland, Australia, Japan and Sumatra, included commissions written for, among others: Taiseer Elias of El F’waar, Israel, Michiyo Yagi of Tokyo, Ben Pasaribu of Medan, Sumatra, the Minnesota Opera Co., and the Minnesota Orchestra.

• She has collaborated with a number of poets, librettists and playwrights including Kathy Welch, Lauren Marshall, Leslie Brody, Marilyn Seven and Marisha Chamberlain and has written some of her own librettos as well.  Some of the theater companies her work has been seen in include Green T Productions, The Minnesota Opera New Works Ensemble, Nautilus Music Theater (MN), New York State Theatre Institute (Albany, NY), Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT), The Childrens Theater Co.,(MN), Village Theater (Seattle,WA), New York Theater Ensemble (NYC), Manhasset Bay Opera Co., Theatre Noh (San Francisco),  Popper Theater (UCLA), History Theatre (MN), Cherry Creek Theater Co. (MN); and  the Waterbury Regional Arts Project, (CT)    

• In her work as a composer for dance she collaborated with the late choreographer John Munger from 1992 - 2013 in a music-dance improvising duo “Footloose in Motley”, and wrote scores for other works by Munger and choreographers Suzanna Rivers and Marylee Hardenberg.

• She regularly performs world musics, recently with her Middle East group Ensemble Mezze and Japanese koto with the Green T Productions company. Miriam’s instruments include piano, Arabic qanun, accordion, flute, Javanese gamelan, Japanese koto

• She also produces world music concerts and residencies at Hamline (currently) and formerly in Los Angeles at UCLA.

• Miriam has received numerous awards and grants for her musical work including:
Grants: from the Minnesota State Arts Board (artist awards and traditional arts program grants), a Next Step Artists Project Grant (Metropolitan Regional Arts Grant), Race, Gender & Beyond Grant (Hamline University), and Meet The Composer Inc. National Education Grants

Fellowships: Asia Pacific Arts Exchange Fellowship from the Center for Intercultural Performance at UCLA, funded by the Ford Foundation, an Arts International Artist Exploration Fellowship and a McKnight Foundation Composer Fellowship

Awards: Eli Wiesel Composition Awards (twice)  in Arts & Culture from the Hillel Foundation, music scholarships from the Arab American Arts Institute  and a Brooklyn Opera Theatre's Chamber Opera Award,  Composer in Residence at Hilai (The Israeli Center for the Creative Arts), Maalot-Tarshiha, Israel;) and a 416 Cedar Cultural Center Commission 

Sample Press Reviews on Miriam’s work has included:
 “The (2001: Space Odyssey) production's MVP is composer and sound designer Miriam Gerberg, who reimagines the film's otherworldly soundtrack for traditional Japanese instruments.” Vita MN 

 “Miriam's musical work speaks a special language of its own...the music is intoxicating.  ... she is also working with creative artists of Eastern music and though they all speak different languages, the language of her music has overcome all barriers."          
Hagalil Newspaper, Maalot, Israel

“Sultani Yegah is a Turkish classical music septet that blends traditional compositions with more adventurous contemporary fare such as Gerberg’s originals”.
City Pages A-List Recommended

"Miriam Gerberg's (music) provides original color and elegance."
Show Business (NY)

" Miriam Gerberg's music captures an ancient earthiness with the sounds of a modern cityscape"     Skyway News

• Compositions (a partial listing, in reverse chronological order) my catalog includes compositions for chamber ensembles, orchestra, opera, music theater, choir & dance.

Miranda (2017) extensive underscores for the play by Pulitzer winner James Still , Illusion Theater

Last Night I Felt a Poem - Kh’hob Haynt Bay Nacht (2016) soprano, violin & piano setting of poem by Rohkl Korn commission by womenperforhers ensemble

Rootabaga Pigeons (2016) music theater work based on stories by Carl Sandberg, ST Paul production

Kaidan: Stories and Studies from the Strange (2015) extensive underscores, dances, songs for a play by Green T Productions, Twin Cities Horror Festival and Noh Space, San Francisco

2001 Space Odyssey (2013 & 2014) continuous underscores for the dance-drama recreation of the movie by Arthur C Clarke, by Green T Productions

Desert Dreams: Naomi and Ruth (2010) music drama, Theater Or, Sabes JCC May 2010 with performers Nirmala & Shruthi Rajasekar, Dick Hensold, Will Kemperman, Peggy Larsen

Festival of Lights (2006) music for theater, Illusion Theater for December 2006 & 2007 runs

Zankulah Saz Semai (2004) instrumental quartet premier: Arab Music Inst (MA)

Conversations (2004) collaborative improvisational quartet created and performed with Nirmala Rajasekar, Pat O’Keefe, Bob Hale, John Munger and Roberta Puzon

Saba Central (2001) instrumental improvisational structure premiered as a solo at MicroFest, Los Angeles May 2001, revised for trio in 2004

Sama'i Huseyni (2000) classical Arabic taht (sextet) premieres: LA & MA.

Customs (1999) piano suite (14 movements) Hennepin Center for the Arts and UCLA

Ladrang Lital (1997) accapella chamber choir (Javanese influenced work)

Abraham's Land (1996) Two-Act music theater work for Village Theater, Seattle

Fasl Taiseer (1995) suite for Arabic oud & string orchestra, commissioned by Taiseer Elias, premiered in St. Paul and Los Angeles

Hadiqah (1995) Eight part vocal ensemble, for Calliope Chorus, Minneapolis

The Alhambra Decree (1992) cantata/edict for Voices of the Sepharad Ensemble

Dressing The Moon (1992) chamber opera for soprano, mezzo and baritone with koto, piano, percussion, commissioned & premiered by the MN Opera (1992), UCLA (2000)

Kotoledon (1990) koto duet for Michiyo Yagi of the Sawaii Koto School, Tokyo

Ruchot Mizrachiot (1988) chamber orchestra suite in 3 movements commissioned and premiered by the Minneapolis JCC Chamber Orchestra

Lilith By The Sea (1986) chamber opera, text by Leslie Brody commissioned and premiered by the Minnesota Opera’s New Works Project (25:00)
In addition to work as a composer and performer I offer educational residencies, all-ages workshops and college level lectures and courses.

Work Samples

Artist-produced image Artist-produced image