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Jake Runestad is an award-winning and frequently-performed composer of “highly imaginative” (Baltimore Sun) and “stirring and uplifting” (Miami Herald) musical works. Having collaborated with leading ensembles and organizations around the world, Jake has a versatile and prolific career creating works for orchestra, wind band, chorus, chamber ensembles, and opera. His visceral music and charismatic personality have fostered a busy schedule of commissions, residencies, workshops, and speaking engagements, enabling him to be one of the youngest full-time composers in the world.
Steeped in a belief that music has the power to initiate positive change, Jake creates musical works that are socially conscious and explore authentic human emotions and experiences. Conductors, performers, and audiences continue to praise his music for its ability to connect with the head and the heart. As a result, Jake was one of the youngest composers ever awarded the Raymond W. Brock Commission from the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) in 2018 — the foremost commission available to composers of choral music in the USA. Runestad has also received a 2017 McKnight Fellowship, a 2016 Morton Gould Young Composer Award from the ASCAP Foundation for his extended work “Dreams of the Fallen,” and his works have received awards from the American Composers Forum, ASCAP, the Peabody Conservatory, New Music USA, the Otto Bremmer Foundation, VocalEssence, the Virginia Arts Festival, the National Association for Music Education, the Association for Lutheran Church Musicians, and the American Choral Directors Association. Jake’s “The Peace of Wild Things” won the Nathan Davis Prize for Composition in 2012 and his “I Will Lift Mine Eyes” was voted one of Minnesota Public Radio’s Top 25 Choral Works in 2014.
Considered a “choral rockstar” by American Public Media, Jake is one of the most frequently performed and commissioned composers of choral music in the world having “…a particular knack for marrying powerful music to texts that speak to some of the most pressing and moving issues of our time” (Star Tribune). In his relatively short career, he has already worked with leading ensembles such as GRAMMY-winning Conspirare and Craig Hella Johnson, VOCES8, the Swedish Radio Symphony, Seraphic Fire, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, the Phoenix Chorale, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Pro Coro Canada, the Taipei Philharmonic Choir, the Netherlands Radio Choir, the Philippine Madrigal Singers, and many more. The first full album dedicated to Jake’s choral music, “The Hope of Loving,” was released in 2019 by Craig Hella Johnson and Conspirare and subsequently received a GRAMMY award nomination. Jake’s music is often featured at national and regional conferences of the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA), Chorus America, Podium (Canada), and the Association of British Choral Directors. Reaching audiences around the world, his compositions have been heard in thousands of performances from Taiwan to Finland to Argentina to Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, Los Angeles’ Disney Hall, the Sydney Opera House, and New York City’s Carnegie Hall.
“Dreams of the Fallen,” Jake’s groundbreaking work for solo piano, chorus, and orchestra, was commissioned by a group of five orchestras from around the U.S.A. After its premiere at the National World War II Museum in 2013, the work has gained national attention in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, and Symphony Magazine. Incorporating poetry by Brian Turner, award-winning poet and veteran of the War in Iraq, “Dreams of the Fallen” explores the impact war has on an individual especially after he or she returns from combat. Subsequent performances have been given by the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Philharmonic of Southern NJ, the Rockford Symphony, the Dayton Philharmonic, and VocalEssence and the Metropolitan Symphony; all featuring acclaimed pianist and Steinway recording artist Jeffrey Biegel.
A rising star in the national opera scene, Jake was recently commissioned by Washington National Opera for his third opera, “Daughters of the Bloody Duke” — a collaboration with award-winning librettist David Johnston. “Daughters of the Bloody Duke” had its premiere performance in November of 2014 at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and was met with rave reviews from critics including Anne Midgette of the Washington Post. One of the few comedy operas written in recent years, this new work was “as much fun for the singers as it was for the audience” (Washington Post).
In-demand as a guest conductor, Jake Runestad has worked with student, community, and professional ensembles around the world. Upcoming engagements include New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall, Los Angeles’ Disney Hall, the Sydney Opera House, as well as residencies with ensembles and institutions across six continents.
Considered “one of the best of the younger American composers” (Chicago Tribune), Jake Runestad holds a Master’s degree in composition from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University where he studied with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts. He has also studied extensively with acclaimed composer Libby Larsen while an undergrad at Winona State University. Originally from Rockford, IL, Jake is currently based in Minneapolis, MN and his music is published by JR Music. For more information and to purchase scores, please visit JakeRunestad.com