Kari Watson, composer

Kari Watson headshot

Kari Watson (b. 1998) is a composer and sound artist working between the mediums of contemporary concert music and electroacoustic music. Motivated by a passion for narrative and musical drama, Watson works to create music that is clear, tactile, and emotionally driven. With roots in vocal study and performance, her work is informed by the vocal line and her work often incorporates text. 

Watson’s work has been premiered in the United States and abroad by several ensembles, most recently, Quatuor Diotima, the Constellation Men’s Ensemble, the Axiom Brass Quintet, and the Friction Quartet. Watson’s work has also been featured on a variety of concerts and festivals, such as at Chicago's Ear Taxi Festival and at the New Music Gathering. 

Upcoming projects include a work for solo harp and electronics for harpist Ina McCormack, a BrassLegacy commission for a trio for members of Axiom Brass, a new work for organ and electronics, and a piece for Chicago’s Civic Orchestra. In tandem with her compositional work, Watson has been teaching private composition lessons since 2018, and has taught lessons for Through the Staff, a nonprofit focused on promoting equity and accessibility to marginalized communities through quality music instruction at no cost, since 2020. 

Her work has been recognized by the American Academy of Arts and Letters and Broadcast Music Industry (BMI). Watson holds a BM from Oberlin Conservatory in Composition, with a minor in TIMARA (technology in music and related arts) and is currently pursuing a Ph.D at the University of Chicago under Augusta Read Thomas.