Daniel Nass

Composer | Collaborator | Commentator


The music of Daniel Nass has been reviewed as “playful,” “eerie,” and “witty.” Much of his music is influenced, both consciously and subconsciously, by popular musics of the past half-century. Thanks to older siblings, his childhood was dominated by the rock music of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, which led to teenage years spent performing in various loud garage bands. Quatre Études de Fromage, a recent set of his piano pieces, was heavily inspired by the music from “Sailing the Seas of Cheese,” an album by progressive rock-trio, Primus. For his doctoral dissertation, he composed Scattered Needles – a large-scale work for tenor and chamber orchestra in which he set lyrics composed by original Pink Floyd singer/songwriter, Syd Barrett.

A member of ASCAP and the American Composers Forum, Nass has received various awards and recognitions, including ASCAP awards, as well as invitations to SEAMUS and SCI national conferences, the Seoul International Computer Music Festival, the International Computer Music Conference in Singapore, and the SPARK Festival in Minneapolis. He has been awarded prizes in the ISU Carillon Composition Competition, the UMKC Chamber Music Composition Competition, and was one of three composers awarded a commission to write a new choral work for the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus. Other recent commissions include One-Dog Canoe (Friends of the Minnesota Orchestra), Katla the Hag and Her Magic Britches and Shadows of Shadow Passing (Zeitgeist), …And the Sound is Thunder (Seen/Heard Trio), and Songs of Cowboys and Hobos (the dream songs project). His works are distributed through his self-publishing company, Daniel Nass Music, and professional recordings are available on the Innova, Crescent Phase, and Avid Sound Records labels.

Nass is particularly passionate about forging successful musical collaborations with artists in the area of mixed media. In dance, he has worked with choreographer David DeBlieck and the Wicked Sister Dance Theatre to produce “Eternal” – a work for dance ensemble and electroacoustic music, using sounds recorded at the Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in central Minnesota as source material. In film, he has collaborated with multimedia artist Samantha Krukowski to produce the short video “Salt and Glue,” which has been aired in prestigious festivals and galleries across the United States and Asia. In the world of theater, Nass has been working with the Augsburg College Theater Department, composing incidental music for their productions of “Marat/Sade,” “The Crucible,” and “The Taming of the Shrew.” Current theater projects include a new work for Christina and Jennifer Baldwin and Nautilus Music Theater, as well as serving as music director for “Ghost Sonata” – a Knight Foundation-funded collaboration between Sod House Theater and Black Label Movement.

A native of Howard Lake, Minnesota, Nass holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music Theory and Composition from Saint Olaf College, a Master of Music in Composition from the University of Missouri – Kansas City Conservatory of Music, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Composition from the University of Texas at Austin. Past teachers include Kevin Puts, Donald Grantham, James Mobberley, Chen Yi, and Peter Hamlin.

Daniel is currently a proud resident of Lowertown St. Paul, and works as an associate producer for American Public Media’s Pipedreams. In addition, he is a Composer Member of Spitting Image Collective – a composer collective that brings together composers, listeners, and performers to strengthen the Twin Cities new music community. 

Photography: Jen Shaffer