Marybeth Kurnat (1987) is an emerging voice in modern choral music. Her debut work, Epitaph For A Romantic Woman, was premiered by the St. Charles Singers in October 2021. Her recent work, I, Lover, was the 2021-22 winner of the Stephen Paulus Emerging Composers’ Competition, and she was selected as a 2023 Composition Fellow for the PREMIERE|Project Festival. Seven of her works are slated to premiere throughout 2023 in Illinois, California and Arizona. She has also submitted works to several additional competitions, including HerVoice, Florida State New Music Festival, VOCES8, and ACDA-Illinois. She has been commissioned by soprano Elizabeth Shuman, The Chicago Choral Artists, Baker Memorial Church of St. Charles, and The Giving Voices Collective.
Described as “transcendent” and “otherworldly,” Marybeth’s authentic style is strongly influenced by her origin as a jazz saxophonist, most clearly illustrated in her colorful and adventurous harmonic vocabulary and unique command of rhythm. Her compositional influences include Brad Mehldau, Wayne Shorter, Jacob Collier, Rollo Dilworth, and Stephen Paulus. Her arranging portfolio also includes music for jazz ensemble, concert band, chamber music and commercial a cappella.
Marybeth earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Northern Illinois University, where she studied voice with Diane Ragains and saxophone with Steve Duke. She has taught in Illinois public schools since 2011, and currently serves as a vocal and instrumental music educator for the DeKalb School District. She is a District 8 representative for the Illinois Music Education Association.
In addition to teaching and composing, Marybeth writes poetry, and maintains an active performance schedule as a choral singer and soloists in the greater Chicago-area choral music scene. She is a member of the St. Charles Singers, Chicago Choral Artists, and the Grant Park Music Festival Chorus.