Mary Ellen Childs has been acclaimed for creating both rhythmic, exuberant instrumental works and bold, kinetic compositions that integrate music, dance and theater in fresh and unexpected ways. She has created numerous “visual percussion” pieces that embody the concept of music in motion, for her ensemble CRASH. Her repertoire includes Click, a fast-paced, game-like work for three stick-wielding performers which The Village Voice deemed “a newly born classic, like Steve Reich’s Clapping Music, only a thousand times more virtuosic.”
Childs also composes “purely musical” concert works and has received commissions from the Kronos Quartet, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Dale Warland Singers, The Kitchen, the Walker Art Center, and grants from Lila Wallace/Meet the Composer, and the MAP Fund. She has composed two works for concert band, Zephyrus and Green Light.
Her recent full-length works include Dream House for string quartet (written for ETHEL) and multi-image video, based on images of destruction and construction, cycles of time, and rhythms of construction work; and Wreck, created for the Black Label Movement Company, for which she won a 2008 Sage Award. Her current projects include a new opera Propeller commissioned by Nautilus Music Theater with funds from MAP and Opera America.
She has received performances at the Bang On A Can Festival, Lincoln Center, New Music America – Miami; The Other Minds Festival (San Francisco), and elsewhere around the U.S. Her music has been performed in Europe, Eastern Europe, Japan, and Australia, and three times her group CRASH traveled to Russia, presenting full evenings of her percussion compositions. She also has received artists fellowships from the McKnight Foundation, Bush Foundation and Minnesota State Arts Board.