Praised as “one of the most exciting opera composers in the country” (–The Washington Post), composer Kamala Sankaram moves freely between the worlds of experimental music and contemporary opera. Known for her work pushing the boundaries of the operatic form, she has created operas as varied as The Last Stand, a 10-hour opera created for the trees of Prospect Park, Brooklyn, Looking at You, a techno-noir featuring live datamining of the audience and a chorus of 25 singing tablet computers, all decisions will be made by consensus, one of the first live performances over Zoom, and The Parksville Murders, the world’s first virtual reality opera. Recent commissions include works for the Glimmerglass Festival (where she was the 2022 Composer-in-Residence), Washington National Opera, the PROTOTYPE Festival, and Creative Time, among others. As a biracial Indian-American and trained sitarist, Kamala has also drawn on Indian classical music in many of her works, including Thumbprint, A Rose, Monkey and Francine in the City of Tigers, and the Jungle Book. Select awards, grants and residencies include: Composer-in-Residence at the Kaufman Music Center, Jonathan Larson Award, NEA ArtWorks, MAP Fund, Opera America, HEREArtist Residency Program, the MacDowell Colony, and the Watermill Center.
Also an accomplished performer, Kamala has been hailed as "an impassioned soprano with blazing high notes" (Wall Street Journal). Notable collaborations include Anthony Braxton’s Trillium E, Trillium J, and GTM (Syntax) 2017; Meredith Monk’s Atlas with the LA Philharmonic, The Wooster Group’s LA DIDONE (Kaaitheater, Brussels, Edinburgh International Festival, Rotterdam Schouberg, Grand Théâtre de la Ville, Luxembourg, St. Anne’s Warehouse, NY, REDCAT, Los Angeles), and the PROTOTYPE Festival’s THUMBPRINT (Baruch Performing Arts, NY, REDCAT, Los Angeles), among others. Kamala is the leader of Bombay Rickey, an operatic Bollywood surf ensemble whose accolades include two awards for Best Eclectic Album from the Independent Music Awards, the 2018 Mid-Atlantic touring grant, and appearances on WFMU and NPR. Awards, grants and residencies: Jonathan Larson Award, NEA ArtWorks, MAP Fund, Opera America, HEREArtist Residency Program, the MacDowell Colony, and the Watermill Center. Dr. Sankaram holds a PhD from the New School and is currently a member of the composition faculties at the Mannes College of Music and SUNY Purchase.