Composer and guitarist Olga Amelkina-Vera grew up in Belarus and moved to the United States in 1997. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree Summa Cum Laude from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, and her Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in guitar performance with a related field in music history from the University of North Texas.
Olga is currently finishing her Master’s in Composition at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where she has studied with Xi Wang, Lane Harder, Robert Frank, and Kevin Hanlon. Her thesis composition, Submerged Worlds for flute, clarinet, violin,cello, piano, and percussion, was premiered Nov. 30, 2016 by SYZYGY, SMU’s new music ensemble. Most recently, Olga was named the 2016-2017 Irving Symphony Orchestra SMU student composer-in-residence. This honor will include a performance of one of her orchestral works on the ISO concert series, as well as outreach activities in Dallas-area schools. Her comic micro-opera “All That Glitters” was premiered at SMU in 2015.
In 2013, she won first prize in the Japan Guitar Ensemble Composition Competition for her guitar quartet Cattywampus Rompus (Texas Tarantella) and was interviewed in Gendai Guitar during her trip to Tokyo. She was the first prize winner of the Austin Classical Guitar Society Composition Competition in 2009 and 2012 for her guitar quartets Ninochka and Nebulae. Her compositions are published by Productions d’Oz, including two works selected for the Frank Koonce Series. Olga’s guitar works have been performed and recorded by Matt Palmer, Adam Holzman, Kithara Duo, Presti, Valerie Hartzell, and many other ensembles and soloists.
As a performer, Olga maintains a busy touring and teaching schedule with Kithara Duo, her guitar duo with Fernand Vera. Kithara Duo’s critically acclaimed recordings Beings and Lingua Franca feature some of her original compositions and transcriptions for guitar duo. Olga is faculty at Collin College in Plano, TX, where she teaches music history, music theory, composition, and guitar.
The real discovery of the evening were three original compositions by Olga Amelkina-Vera, who gently stretched the expectations sharing her delightful musical imagination.
On “The Heaven’s Hundred”:
Brilliantly weaving together the sounds of Cossack rural and religious tradition with those of anger, civil disturbance, people’s desperation and the destruction of innocence, this Chaconne-sized piece releases encroaching patterns of chaos which proceed to overwhelm its own underlying structures.
This is a grim metaphor for the plight of the Ukraine.
I also think that what we heard here is the birth of a new major work, important in its way as Picasso’s Guernica.
The Royal Gazette
Of two recent compositions by Amelkina-Vera, subtle effects defined the three character pieces in “Beings:” the low, menacing huff of the mysterious Minotaur; the harp-like strums of incandescent Sylphs; the hypnotic patterns unraveling across Salamander.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram