Olivia Kieffer is a composer, percussionist, and educator. A native of Wisconsin, her music has been described as “immediately attractive,” “like a knife of light,” and “honest, to the point, and joyful!”
Olivia is former adjunct music faculty at Reinhardt University (2009 – 2017), where she taught percussion and World Music. She studied percussion at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and Georgia State University, and she studied music composition at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and University of Miami. She is currently pursing a DMA in Music Composition at University of Miami. Her musical mentors have included percussionists Allen Otte and Stuart Gerber, and composers Marc Mellits, Douwe Eisenga, William Susman, Jon Welstead, Charles N. Mason, and Lansing McLoskey. She is the newest member of smol ensemble, a quintet of percussionists and pianists.
She feels at home in both the classical and rock worlds, and was an active performer in Atlanta’s vibrant contemporary classical music scene for over a decade, including her work as bandleader and drummer for the 7-piece chamber rock band Clibber Jones Ensemble. She is a long-time member of the Chix With Stix Percussion Group. She also performed regularly with the Terminus Ensemble and Bent Frequency, and 2015-2017 was co-director of the Reinhardt Contemporary Arts Festival and Atlanta’s SoundNOW Festival, as well as serving on the Music committee at Eyedrum Music & Art Gallery, where she curated the Composer’s Concert Series.
Olivia is perhaps best known for her toy piano books which contain 127 miniatures; “The Texture of Activity,” and “Playing the Changes,” and for her post-minimalist concert band piece “…and then the Universe exploded.” Since 2012, her compositions have been performed both nationally and internationally. She has been commissioned by Mid America Freedom Band; guitarists Darren Nelsen and Matthew Linder; percussionists Brandon Dodge, Nathaniel Gworek, and Colleen Phelps; toy pianist Amy O’Dell; smol ensemble; GremlinsDuo; A/B Duo; fivebyfive; The New Music Conflagration; saxophonist Nicki Roman; tubists Bill Pritchard and Josh Sevigny; the Deuson Pilkington Duo; the SENSORIA series at UW-Milwaukee; Bent Frequency Duo Project; flutist Laura Lentz; the “Pop Rock in Metal” sax quartet consortium; Duo 305; the Forage & Flourish Festival; and the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble.
She can be heard as a drummer and percussionist on albums by Clibber Jones Ensemble, the Boston prog rock band Perhaps, the Georgia Brass Band, and the Emory University Wind Ensemble. Her compositions are on albums by toy pianists Amy O’Dell and Jacob Mason, tenor/guitar duet Deuson Pilkington Duo, chamber rock band Clibber Jones Ensemble, woodwind duet GremlinsDuo, and saxophonist Nicki Roman.
Her projects and compositions have been highlighted in Journal for the International Alliance for Women in Music; ArtsAtl; TomTom Magazine; Wide Circles podcast; WABE-FM (90.1); Eyedrum Periodically; listening to ladies; Moving Classics TV; Music, Polyphony, and Polyrhythm; and the 1track podcast. She is a guest contributor to NewMusicBox and EarRelevant. In 2017 Olivia was Composer in Residence at the Florida International Toy Piano Festival and the Mana Saxophone Institute. Olivia is a part of the Percussive Arts Society Diversity Alliance, serves on the Percussive Arts Society Composition Committee, and is a member of the International Alliance for Women in Music.