Dr. Katherine Pukinskis
Assistant Professor of Music
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Katherine Pukinskis is a composer-scholar whose work often brings unlikely text or content into conversation in the concert hall. “I Dissent,” a project started by a 2019 commission from the Esotericsin Seattle, excerpts opinions and dissents written by the female Supreme Court Justices of the United States. The first piece in the project (A Choice Informed) tackles the 2014 Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby case in which Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissents against the ruling—Justice Ginsburg’s writing supports a woman’s right to make an informed choice about healthcare. The second set of works, titled A Sense of Decency, was a 2020 commission from the Radcliffe Choral Society in Cambridge MA; the two-movement work for treble choir and string quartet attends to a woman’s right to access education, and the influences of religion on American veteran memorials.Additional pieces in the ongoing project set texts by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan in response to more recent legislation.
Dr. Pukinskis has had works premiered by eighth blackbird, Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, Akron Symphony Chorus, and the Spektral Quartet, as well as by members of Ensemble Dal Niente and the Chicago Symphony Chorus. Commissioning ensembles include San Antonio Symphony, Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, Akropolis Reed Quintet, Agarita Chamber Players, Heritage Chorale, the Esoterics Choir, and Nuorten Kuoroliitto (Helsinki Finland).
Both her work in composition and research explore storytelling and voice—tracking how words and ideas travel in music, across the world, and over time. Dr. Pukinskis’s scholarly research revolves around notions of cultural identity, diaspora, traditional folk and choral music, and activism, with particular emphasis on the choral music of Latvia and 20th-century American Art Song. She has presented her research across the United States and Europe in conferences, pre-concert lectures, and invited talks.