Kathleen Tagg, a 2014-15 Composition Fellow of the Dramatist Guild of America, is a pianist, composer, producer and music director based in New York City. Over the past decade she has been prolific as a songwriter, but has also written for combinations as diverse as symphony orchestra, choir, string quartet, piano with electronics and six-piece band.
Recent commissions have been for the Jewish Culture Fest Vienna (2015), David Krakauer with the New Century Chamber Orchestra led by Nadja Salerno-Sonnenburg (2015), the Suidoosterfees/Cape Philharmonic Orchestra (2014), and clarinetist David Krakauer’s multimedia show, The Big Picture, also included in the CD, released worldwide on Table Pounding Records (2014) and Label Bleu (2015). Listen to the Kathleen’s arrangement of the March from Prokofiev’s Love of 3 Oranges here.
Kathleen is a member of ASCAP, and her works are published by Spotted Kat Music (ASCAP).
Kathleen holds the Helen Cohn Award as outstanding Doctoral graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, where she taught for four years, as well as degrees from Mannes College and the University of Cape Town. She is currently on the faculty of SongFest in Los Angeles.
Kathleen’s largest work to date is the full-length musical, Erika’s Wall, co-written with Sophie Jaff. Erika’s Wall was first presented in Chicago in a run of workshop performances in July 2010 by The Music Theatre Company under the direction of Jessica Redish. Kathleen and Sophie were 2014/15 fellows of the Dramatist Guild of America to rework Erika’s Wall. During their time as fellows, they were incredibly fortunate to have received mentoring from, amongst others, Michael Korie, Andrea Lepcio, Ricky Ian Gordon, Dianne Son, Lynn Ahrens, Steven Flaherty, Tom Kitt and Polly Penn.
Kathleen’s recent work includes the full-length Afrikaans alt-cabaret Spieël Speel, co-created with South Africa singer Zanne Stapelberg, which premiered in July 2013 with a multi-city South African tour. The show features all-new original songs by Tagg as well as songs by Tagg and Stapelberg- with lyrics by Afrikaans luminaries such as Hennie Aucamp, Elizabeth Eybers, Deon Meyer, Antjie Krog and Willem de Vries. The works are for a six-piece ensemble of voice, piano, violin, guitar, bass & percussion.
Her Orchestrated Songs of Heartbreak, written with Sophie Jaff, have been heard at venues such as New York’s Lincoln Center, while songs from their evening-long collection of songs “Apple Heart” have been heard at the Music Theatre Company in Chicago, and the Duplex and Gershwin Hotel in New York.
The 2012 show Soul of Fire features arrangements by Kathleen for 5-piece ensemble, and was also released as a CD of the same name. Kathleen acted as the pianist, music director and producer on the recording, which was nominated for a 2014 South African Music Award (SAMA) in the category ‘Best classical or instrumental album’. Kathleen’s arrangement of Nana was included in Deon Meyer’s 2013 film Die Laaste Tango, as well as being released on the film’s official soundtrack on Gallo Records and other tracks have been used for South African TV. Kathleen acted as the producer on the Soul of Fire CD, as well as acting as musical director on Erika’s Wall, Soul of Fire and Spieël Speel.
Kathleen is currently half of the Krakauer-Tagg Duo with Grammy-nominated clarinet star David Krakauer. Their new project, Breath and Hammer, is an innovative re-imagining of the traditional clarinet and piano recital. The program contains original works by Tagg and Krakauer, and they also created all of the arrangements and, in collaboration with a sound designer, further expanded the scope of sound possibilities by incorporating electronics.
Most recently, Kathleen also recorded three of her original compositions for the album Where Worlds Collide with South African jazz pianist Andre Petersen (released 2016).
Piano Circus is the umbrella for Kathleen’s solo works. She continues to work on redefining a new sound for the piano by writing new work for piano (using both the inside and outside), combining them with electronics- as well as commissioning new works by composers she loves. Her sound world draws on her native South Africa as well as her years spent in New York.