Michelle Kinney with Zeitgeist

Zeitgeist collaborated with Minnesota composer Michelle Kinney for the 2021 “Playing it Close to Home” concert featuring works by Kinney and winning songs from the Eric Stokes Song Contest.

Cocoa in the Poppies
My soulmate Cocoa (a 13 year old golden retriever-like mutt) and I drove across the country to California where we hung out for about a month together writing this song. The poppies were in full bloom. Cocoa swam in the ocean. It was pure bliss for both of us. 

Frank on the Highway
Frank was really lost on the highway and all he had to eat was a coffee can filled with lard and a sack of uncooked potatoes. Composed in the 1980s for a play by Chris Sullivan, it has stood the test of time. 

Echo and Narcissus
Also composed on that California trip. Again referencing a flower (and an echo and a narcissist). The true source of this piece spun out from a captured moment of a looping phrase that I saved from accompanying a dance class.

michelle kinney

Michelle Kinney’s career began in Minneapolis, MN, when she returned home after receiving a BA in music from Northwestern University. During this early phase in her career, she was recognized and frequently funded as a composer & cellist, collaborating with Twin Cities choreographers (Laurie Van Wieren), filmmakers (Chris Sullivan, Chicago) and theater artists (Michael Sommers), in addition to composing for her own new music ensembles (IMP ORK, Aphid Bloodbath Consort). In 1989, she moved to New York City to pursue an MA in Performance Studies at New York University. Michelle lived in NYC for 13 years, recording and touring Europe and the US with several of her mentors; bridging musical genres and scenes, from art music (Henry Threadgill, Butch Morris, Myra Melford), to pop (Sheryl Crow, Natalie Merchant, Lou Reed); and composing for dance (Cyrus Khambatta), film (Debra Dickson) and theater (Richard Schechner). 

​Michelle returned to the Twin Cities in 2002 to raise her young family. In addition to again becoming very actively engaged in the community as a composer and performer, Michelle is the Musician in Residence for the Dance Program within the University of Minnesota’s Theater Arts and Dance Department. In this perfect “day job” for a musician/composer, Michelle improvises compositions in daily dance classes, with her cello played through a looping device. Each day Michelle spends hours reading bodies in motion as if they were sheet music, spontaneously creating and layering multiple cello parts, starting from a rhythmic foundation and building harmony, texture and melodic phrasing.