Celka Ojakangas is an award-winning Los Angeles-based composer whose “work rates high on the bold and beautiful scales” and “takes molecular musical quirks and explodes them, then seizes precious moments of lyricism.” (Columbia Tribune) Her music plays with hybridism and recontextualization, intentionally exploring and blurring the boundaries between culturally-defined genres for a resultant fun and eclectic palette of textures, rhythms, and grooves. Celka gleans her musical ideas from her collaborative work as a violist in symphonies, new music ensembles, jazz bands, and rock bands, always with the intention of bringing creativity and play to the forefront of the listener’s and performer’s experiences.
Celka’s compositions have been premiered and commissioned by many artists including Alarm Will Sound, yMusic, Hocket, Kaufman School of Dance, the Raleigh Symphony, Portland State University Opera, New Opera West, Blackhouse Collective, Bantam Winds, Thornton Symphony Orchestra, and Thornton Wind Ensemble. Recent distinctions include the Mizzou International Composer Festival Composer’s Residency, Opera America’s Discovery Grant for Female Composers, the American Prize for Wind Band, the IAWM Alex Shapiro Prize Honorable Mention, and multiple finalist positions in ASCAP’s Morton Gould Young Composer’s Competition. Active as a composer, conductor, and performer, Celka has also collaborated with musicians at the Blackhouse SoCal Intermedia Workshop, the Oh My Ears! Festival, and the Oregon Bach Festival Composers’ Symposium.
Celka is presently pursuing her doctorate at the University of Southern California. Current and former mentors include Donald Crockett, Andrew Norman, Ted Hearne, Sean Friar, Frank Ticheli, Mara Gibson and Carlyle Sharpe. She currently serves as an Adjunct Professor of Music at Occidental College.