Christina Rusnak | About
Dallas Contemporary, in 2009, commissioned Ms. Rusnak to compose 161 Glass, to celebrate the opening of their new art space. With a Master’s degree in Composition and Art History from the University of North Texas, she has worked with the Dallas Contemporary coordinating their new sound series, “New Sounds” and with Orchestra 2001 in Philadelphia as a management consulting.
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Christina Rusnak / Composer/Explorer

Christina Rusnak is a multifaceted composer whose work reflects a diversity of styles.

My Bio

Composer Christina Rusnak is a multifaceted composer who works in a diversity of styles. She seeks to integrate a sense of context into her music from a variety of sources including landscape, culture, history, ecology and art working with historians, scientists and cultural geographers in  natural and urban spaces. Her goal is to compose music that is engaging as well as thought provoking.


She has written chamber ensemble, women’s choir, orchestra, jazz, and electro-acoustic works. The Dallas Contemporary Museum commissioned her to create a work celebrating their new art space at 161 Glass in 2009. An avid hiker, Ms. Rusnak has worked as Composer-In-Residence for Homestead National Monument, North Cascades National Park and Cottonwood Canyon State Park. The Life of Ashes, premiered in 2014, was commissioned  by the US Forest Service for the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act.


Her work has been performed at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, the Parma Music Festival and at the 12th Annual CSUF New Music Festival. Her music has been recorded by the Kiev Philharmonic Orchestra, LA Jazz, and by Vocal Luna in Havana Cuba. Parma Recordings released her jazz compilation, Chat, Chill, Highline, in 2014 and Intersections in 2016. Upcoming projects include a chamber piece celebrating Celilo Falls. A writer on music, culture and leadership, her essays on music and advocacy can be found on and New Music Box among others.

Christina S. Rusnak


Christina Rusnak is a multifaceted composer whose work reflects a diversity of styles and points of view. She actively seeks to integrate a sense of context from a variety of sources. Landscape, art and cultural history figure prominently in her work. Rusnak’s goal is to compose music that is thought provoking and engages the performers as well as the audience.


She composes for chamber ensemble, women’s choir, and orchestra as well as jazz, and electro-acoustic works. Cloudburst, released in 2007, launched Ms. Rusnak’s musical exploration of place and space.  The Dallas Contemporary Museum commissioned her to create a work celebrating their new art space at 161 Glass in 2009. FEAR: The Unspoken Geography explores perception and interaction with public spaces and was chosen in 2013 for the 12th Annual CSUF New Music Festival: Voice in the 21st Century. 

An avid hiker, Ms. Rusnak has created works for many National Parks and Monuments as well as the US Forest Service and Wilderness areas including Homestead National Monument, (150th Anniversary of the Homestead Act) Denali, Yukon Charley and North Cascades National Parks, Mount Adams Wilderness (50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act), Glacier National Park as well as Oregon State Parks.  Most recently she traveled to Cuba for a recording project in Havana.


Originally from an old St. Louis beer family, Ms. Rusnak began creating music at age nine. She earned her Master’s degree in Composition is at the University of North Texas, and moved to Portland Oregon in 2012. She actively works with communities and organizations to bring music and culture into public spaces.  Ms. Rusnak’s essays on music and culture have been published in, New Music Box, Landscape, the Journal of the International Alliance of Women in Music and more.  She recently presented on Music and Advocacy at the University of Iowa. Her works are recorded on ERM Media and Parma Recordings.

Christina Rusnak

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

One cannot simply hold an iPod and hear how beautiful, inspiring or how grating the music accessed is. Unlike paintings or sculpture, which contain observable physical qualities and subsequent interpretation of beauty, music is no less tangible. Music and theatrical works become tangible in the experience. They can be re-played, re-experienced, then re-worked, and/or re-interpreted for a new experience. In a way, they become living breathing entities, while a physical static piece of art remains frozen in its time.

Moreover, music is three-dimensional. The sound waves literally move through space into and through our bodies. We both hear and feel sound. But how do we interpret its essence, its value as a well-crafted piece of art, or as a meaningful expression of our time and/or place? My goal is to create music that engages the performers as well as the audience.

We all have artistic goals, and want our creations to have meaning. I strive to compose music that reflects the world and who I am in this environment. I’m voraciously curious about the world around me – how the earth formed, how people lived and how they expressed themselves and their world through music and art. As a composer, cultural explorer/consultant and writer, my premise is that landscape has a significant role in shaping culture. I have an in-depth understanding of environmental history and cultural geography and write on the intersection of place and culture.

When creating a site-specific piece of music, I integrate sounds, values, music and traditions from the place I’m writing about into the resulting work. In 2009, 161 Glass evolved from a mid-century factory, which morphed into a museum. In 2010, a friend’s brush with assult compelled me to generate a work about women’s FEAR, The Unspoken Geography. At Homestead National Monument in 2012, FREE LAND commemorated the 150th anniversary of the Homestead Act. I interpreted the sounds of the prairie, and the zeal with which the Homesteaders flocked to the west. In 2013, I found the old gold mining camp at Coal Creek in Yukon Charley National Preserve a lonely place. In 2014, a bend in the John Day River, which has been a gathering place for thousands of years, most recently for ranchers, inspired Canyon Voices.

The common mistake people make isn’t setting their goals too high and risking failure, but setting their goals too low and succeeding. It’s cliché, but growth is uncomfortable and often comes with more failures than successes. I choose to grow – to attempt for my music to say something – even if, or especially if, that something is different for everybody.

Press Photos

coming soon…

What I love to do

When, while the lovely valley teems with vapour around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable foliage of my trees, and but a few stray gleams steal into the inner sanctuary, I throw myself down among the tall grass by the trickling stream; and, as I lie close to the earth.

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Hiking Miles

Be fluid. Treat each project differently. Be water, man. The best style is no style. Because styles can be figured out.

"Sound is one of the original elements of the Earth’s ecosystem. Music breathes; giving it breath and beauty is what we call music making."

John Kennedy

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JOHN , Composing in the Wilderness

"Love your pictures, thank you for sharing!"

JOE PARKER, Silent Eko

Contact Info

Get a hold of me or ask me a question.