Let us discuss what a bio is supposed to do and what it actually does. In essence, a bio should serve as a snapshot of who the person is, what they do, and what they have done. To some extent, a bio should also lend a certain level of credibility to the person—especially if in an artistic setting—to provide a shadow of understanding to the observer that what is about to be experienced has a human element behind it, not just repurposed excrement manufactured to take their money.
The reality is that bios have become a vehicle to justify one's existence while simultaneously stroking their ego. So often they are inflated, arbitrary, and intentionally vague, or otherwise manipulative that they are void of meaning—a norm unintentionally perpetuated. Despite knowing this, though, individuals still put a great deal of weight into what a bio means, regardless of if it is true and honest, so it is still necessary to have one.
For all of these reasons, I despise bios, but understand that they have a role to play and may actually help someone make a connection to my music through whatever means needed. And so, I offer up two different bios: a longer, honest one, and a shorter one I hope is also honest, but also usable in the standard program.
The best quote I know of that perfectly completes a bio comes from the brilliant minds of Monty Python: "Shrubberies are my trade. I am a shrubber. My name is Roger the Shrubber. I arrange, design, and sell shrubberies."
The beauty of this quote is that there is no question about who Roger is or what he does, nor does it require any followup questions concerning what the quality of his work is or why he chose to do it. To make it about myself, I am a composer, and I write, arrange, and design music. For further clarification, my music is nearly entirely acoustic, is intended for the broader definition of "the concert stage," and is influenced from not only the standard lineage of Western European Art Music, but also pop music from the late 80s and 90s, as well as the music of video games and American musical theater.
I hold degrees from the University of Oregon, Arizona State University, and the University of Colorado Boulder. Over the years, my music has been performed in seven countries on four continents, and has been fortunate enough to be featured on concerts given by the Paradise Winds, the Altius Quartet, the Oregon Wind Ensemble, and Pro Musical Colorado Chamber Orchestra. Despite my training and these performances, I have no grand plan for my music. There is no hidden agenda threaded through these compositions, nor is there a goal of audience reaction. Each piece is typically its own island built for whomever requested its creation, and its meaning or intent is murky at best.
What I can tell you is that each piece is an exploration of a different part of me and my desire to tell stories, though I admittedly have a hard time finding the words for them. For me, the important thing is that people come together to share and create music, and that everyone has an experience, regardless of what it may be. It should never be about me, and should always be about us as we continue to make sense of this life we are all moving through together.
Outside of the musical world, I serve as the Operations Manager for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, am an active coffee snob, and spend way too much time with my cat, Coltrane. I continue to feed my video game addiction as time allows, and have begun adventuring out into other creative endeavors which include cooking, baking, and soap-making. On occasion, I can be found scolding someone for not knowing how to recycle, or badgering the powers that be into providing compost services wherever they are needed (which is EVERYWHERE).
Kurt Mehlenbacher (b. 1985) is an active composer, copyist, and concert producer in the Boulder, CO area. He has studied at the University of Colorado Boulder, Arizona State University, the École Normale de Musique in Paris, and the University of Oregon. His principle teachers include Carter Pann, Daniel Kellogg, Roshanne Etezady, Rodney Rogers, Jody Rockmaker, Michele Merlet, and Robert Kyr. He has also studied bassoon with Steve Vacchi, and conducting with Robert Ponto and Gary Hill.
Mehlenbacher has participated in the European American Musical Alliance (Merit Scholar), and the Oregon Bach Festival Composer's Symposium. He has received multiple honors which include a BMI Young Composers Award (Honorable Mention), a Special Talents Award in Music Theory, the Arizona State University Fellowship Grant, the University of Colorado Wind Ensemble and Choral Prizes, a Cecil Effinger Fellowship, and a prize from the George Lynn Grant Foundation. He has received commissions from the Central Arizona Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, the Paradise Winds, the Phoenix Art Museum, the American Harp Society, and the Arizona Singers Collective, and has had his works performed by the Altius Quartet, and Alarm Will Sound. He has been a selected finalist for the St. Lawrence String Quartet Composition Competition, the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, and the Raymond W. Brock Memorial Student Composer Competition, and his chamber music is regularly performed throughout the United States and Western Europe.
Since 2005, he has worked for earthsongs, a world choral music publisher, as a notation editor, engraver, and layout specialist. He is also a founding member of the Colorado New Music Ensemble and served as its Artistic Director from 2013 through 2016.
Outside of the musical world, Mehlenbacher served as the cohost of a podcast with Elizabeth Kennedy Bayer entitled Train Wreck in Progress (TWiP) from 2009 to 2012, focusing on promoting artists of all disciplines and discussing the obstacles they run into while following their creative process, and currently serves on the operations and creative team for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Additionally, he is an avid coffee drinker and dabbles in the culinary arts.