top of page




Ellen R. Harrison - fold your wings



Commissioned by the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Harmony Fund, which supports artistic works that fight hate and prejudice through the performing arts.  I am deeply grateful to the Harmony Fund for allowing me to make my voice heard.


I have set "The Psyche Adrift" from Norman Finkelstein's collection of poems, Scribe, with additional lines from his poem, Track, both works of great depth, wisdom, and imagination.

Norman once told me that he is a Romantic modernist. I believe that this holds true for me as well, which may explain why I find his poetry so inspiring. When I read his work, I feel transported onto another plane or into another world where I find the inspiration for my music. The rhythm of his poems, their haunting imagery, and their sense of mystery and magic spark my imagination, and musical ideas flow forth from me in response.







transaction, intersection, introspection  [Sept.23]
CCM Concert Orchestra • Aik Khai Pung, music director and conductor

This performance features the first of four world premieres commissioned for the CCM Concert Orchestra’s 2023-24 season — Ellen Harrison‘s At the Intersection of Veil and Reveal. Harrison is a Cincinnati-based composer who has won two commissions from the Fromm Music Foundation and four Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards. 

view performance


between magic & possibilities       [May 4, 2023]

Between Magic and Possibility, for soprano and flute, sets eleven segments from Norman Finkelstein's poem Track, a spellbinding work that explores the darkness surrounding us. The music reflects the magical, enigmatic quality of these texts. Each of the piece's seven songs contrasts in one form or another with those that precede or follow it.

view performance stream

she scores.jpg

beneath a canopy of wings  [thursday, June 23]

echo of one                                [saturday, June 25]

will be performed as part of She Scores,  7PM Harkness Chapel at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland. Admission is free. Featuring compositions by Elillian Daugherty, HyeKyung Lee, Michelle Li, Ellen Harrison, Nicole DiPaolo, Karen Griebling, and Cara Haxo.


invisible topography [2010] by Ellen R. Harrison

will be performed as part of LES HORS-D'OEVRES DU DIMANCHE by the CHAMBER ORCHESTRA OF FRIBOURG, Sunday,MAY 15, 2022,  at 11:00 am, Mézières (FR), Route de l'Éclise 12, Musée du papier peint


Ellen R. Harrison - Beneath a Canopy of Wings [2019]

now available on Spotify and Apple music. A great performance by Duo Cylindre. Many thanks to everyone involved!


Winner of the 2021 Flute New Music Consortium Competition for Flute Plus One.

Screen Shot Flute New Music Consortium.png

Ellen R. Harrison - O virga ac Diadema [2021]


"For me, with each listening to Hildegard's chant, her words and ethereal music transport me to another plane. Here I have heard celestial voices singing and have found the inspiration for my musical setting of this esteemed text."


To listen to Songs Out of Isolation in their entirety please visit


Ellen R. Harrison - music is [2017]



Unthemed anthologies of new music can be a difficult sell, but Brett Scott's Coro Volante set about these recent pieces with such enthusiasm and confidence that it's hard not to be beguiled. It doesn't hurt that there's some real talent on show among the composers as well. It's important to make clear that these aren't all very young composers. Ellen Harrison has been making remarkable music since the 1970's and her 'Music Is', which ends the set, represents a most welcome addition to her list. Likewise, the veteran Alan Goldspiel with 'Soldier of Mine' and Tim Knight's moving 'Requiem Aeternam'. There isn't a piece one wouldn't want to hear again. Crisply recorded in generous acoustics'.  Brian Morton, Choir and Organ

Ellen R. Harrison - the window [2015]


A Covid-19 performance by CSO Associate Principal Bass, Matt Zory, who is also a camera virtuoso! When the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's Assistant Principal Bass is not making music, he is busy capturing soulful and surprising stories from the unnoticed corners of Cincinnati and life.

2020 NATS Art Song Composition Award 

Second place winner

I am very honored and excited to receive this award from NATS for Between Magic and Possibility.  I love writing for voice and feel that musical inspiration comes most naturally to me in response to poetry.  I find Norman Finkelstein’s poetry to be especially moving and have tried to express the magical, enigmatic quality of his texts in this song cycle for soprano and flute.

click on frame for video

Her Cowboy Boots by Ellen Ruth Harrison wins 1st prize


'Among the crowd of footwear

standing in her closet,

she chooses the androgynous black cowboy boots.


She was of two minds,

like her stylish yet functional

leather cowboy boots.


A woman and a pair of shoes

are one.

A woman and her pair of cowboy boots

are at least two .


She doesn't know which she prefers,

the seeluctress in high-heeled boots,

or the shit-kicking, tough-talking cowgirl

ruling in her cowboy boots,

or both.


O Cowboys of the Wild West,

could you have imagined over a hundred years hence

a gentlewoman wearing your boots, prancing around, shopping,

dancing, loving in the boots you rode brokeback saddle in?


When the cowboy boots are put away,

the imprint of their power remains

on her choices.


Mezzo-soprano Ellen Graham has performed with Cincinnati Opera, The May Festival, The Cincinnati Pops, Collegium Cincinnati, Evansville Philharmonic, Queen City Opera, concert:nova and the Vocal Arts Ensemble. Ms. Graham is the Director of Vocal Studies at Xavier University.

Collaborative pianist and vocal coach Matthew Umphreys specializes in opera, chamber music, and musical theater. He works with Cincinnati Opera, concert:nova, RokCincy, The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, and the Schmidt Vocal Institute, and is the co-artistic director of Queen City Cabaret, a new jazz cabaret concert series.

Poem  by Ellen Austin-Lee 


Gregory Oakes is an exciting and energetic clarinetist and a passionate champion of the music of our time. From his Carnegie Hall debut with members of Ensemble Intercontemporain and Pierre Boulez to his performances as a member of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Oakes has been praised by critics for his “outstanding performance” (New York Times) and “jazzy flourishes” (Denver Post).  The performance features works by Atkinson, Cuong, Lachenmann, Pierce, Poston, and Harrison.

Saturday, April 6 2019, at 3:00 pm, New Hope Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas


A/Tonal will perform Echo of One by Ellen Ruth Harrison, plus works by Valerie Coleman, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Erich Stern and Jennifer Bellor

Sunday, November 18, 2018,  at 7:00 pm in the 21C Museum Hotel, Louisville, KY


BETWEEN MAGIC AND POSSIBILITY - Jackie Stevens, soprano; Nave Graham, flute 

Music by Ellen Ruth Harrison and texts from Track by Norman Finkelstein, Professor of English at Xavier University and this year's recipient of Xavier's prestigious Fortin Award.

Saturday, April 7, 2018,  at 7:30 pm in the Bellarmine Chapel at Xavier University

Starting December 31, 2017, Robin Meiksins launched a new year-long project. This one focuses on one piece a week, each written by a living composer. The project functions as a workshop, with the composer giving Robin feedback on the piece throughout the week, and Robin doing the same. 

SO THAT NOW - Courtney Sherman, soprano; Eric Hansen, clarinet 

6:30 Concert Series UWGB Music, Green Bay, WI

Friday, February 23, 2018,  at 6:30 pm Central / 7:30 pm Eastern

for lifestream check UWGB Music Facebook page

ALL ONE CAN IMAGINE - Third Millennium Ensemble 2017 Competition Winner 

performance tba​

IAWM ANNUAL CONCERT 2017 - SOLITUDE for solo cello,  


SATURDAY, October 28, 7:30 pm


The Kansas Virtuosi: will perform the following works:

  • Running Amok by Victoria Malawey (USA)

  • Stay by Jennifer Bellor (USA)

  • You, As You Were Before You Existed by Jessica Rudman (USA)

  • Solitude by Ellen Ruth Harrison (USA)

  • The Lives and Opinions of Literary Cats by Jennifer Jolley (USA)

  • Up a Half Step by Amelia S. Kaplan (USA)

  • Conigli by Anne Guzzo (USA)

  • Meadowlark by Tawnie Olsen (Canada)

  • Parakeet Dancing by Seunghee Lee (South Korea)



I am very grateful that Kate Tombaugh asked me to write a piece for the inaugural year of the poco a poco Summer Music Fest in our hometown of Streator, Illinois.  Her indomitable spirit and enthusiasm have been an inspiration, as has the wonderful text that she commissioned from Joshua McGuire.  It has so many layers and interconnections, and yet it is so direct and powerful.  Musical ideas flowed forth from me in response.



Saturday, April 22, 2017 

Steve Darling will premiere inter mora for solo euphonium

Thursday,March 9, 2017 // 5:00 pm // Werner Recital Hall, CCM

 Jackie Stevens (soprano) and Karen Lee (violin) will perform my song cycle, All One Can Imagine, along with works by Kaija Saariaho, Jennifer Higdon, Libby Larsen, and Julia Seeholzer.


Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 // 8:30 pm //

4636 N Francisco Ave, Chicago IL, 60625, just off of the Francisco Brown line stop

A stylistically diverse program with works by Ellen Ruth Harrison, George Walker, Joan Tower, Caroline Shaw, and Elisabeth Lutyens.

Elizabeth Darling (flute) and Karen Wissel (dance) perform Ellen Ruth Harrison's 

La Danse du Baladin on CCM's PRISM XX // Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016 // 4:00 pm //

Corbett Auditorium

PRISM XX • CCM Wind Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensembles and Special Guests
Terence Milligan and Angela Holt, music directors and conductors

CCM proudly presents 60 minutes of crowd-pleasing, non-stop excitement by diverse performers throughout Corbett Auditorium. An annual favorite, the PRISM concert is perfect entertainment for the entire family!

Location: Corbett Auditorium

concert:nova // Bon Appetit // July 19, 2016 // 7:30pm

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College

3520 Central Parkway, Cincinnati 45223

Bon Appetit is a one-woman chamber opera based on a classic Julia Child broadcast. In this lighthearted, endearing and unforgettable performance, Soprano Ellen Graham and and accompanying musicians joyfully illuminate the energy and character of Julia Child. Both a culinary journey and demonstration on how to make a classic French chocolate cake, you will not want to miss this Regional Premiere!

concert:nova builds on the culinary-opera theme by starting the production off with Bernstein's Bonne Cuisine, Ellen Ruth Harrison's Salad Bar, and other food inspired pieces.

Whether your thing is opera or food, you'll be in love with this one of a kind production!

Tickets Available

Zory's Stories // The Other Side of Music Hall

photography opening @ Wash Park Art Gallery  // September 2015 

CSO Party of Note October @ Wash Park Art Gallery // October 2015

The Photography of Matt Zory, in collaboration with composer Ellen Ruth Harrison.  

World Premiere of "The Window" (2015) for double bass


CSO Associate Principal Bass, Matt Zory, is also a camera virtuoso! When the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's Assistant Prinpal Bass is not making music, he is busy capturing soulful and surprising stories from the unnoticed corners of Cincinnati and life.

coleman itzkoff // Solitude // June 2, 2015 // 8:00 pm 

Aronoff Center for the Arts

It's solitude, if you like it - loneliness, if you don't  [Eric Nelson]

Keep Me Informed

bottom of page