Morgan Lee Gerstmar
is a Los Angeles based violist/violinist, composer, and educator from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in the Performer/Composer program from the California Institute of the Arts; a Bachelor of Arts in Neuroscience, Musical Studies and East Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of Southern California and precollege training from the New England Conservatory in Boston, MA. Morgan's diverse career in Neuroscience and Music has provided her with unique tools for teaching her violin and viola students.
Education is the focal point of Morgan's career as an artist. Her private students have won concertmaster and principal chairs in school orchestras, seats in SCSBOA and CODA orchestra competition, and in 2015 & 2016 her students won 1st place in Beginning Fiddle at the Topanga Banjo & Fiddle Contest. Morgan is a member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas and received Book 1-2 training at the Los Angeles Suzuki Institute with famed Suzuki pedagogue Ed Sprunger. In addition to private lessons, Morgan teaches group classes with Children's Music Workshop at Saint Mark's School, Overland Elementary School for Advanced Studies, and Topanga Charter Elementary School; Elemental Music's Academy Strings Middle School Orchestra and scholarship lessons through the Bergmann Project; and lastly she teaches General Music classes for Young Musician's Foundation.
As as a performer Morgan has had the privilege to tour in cities from Berlin to Guatemala City to Austin, TX. She has premiered chamber works by Martin Arnold, Yotam Haber, Alex Mincek, and solo works by Dean Rosenthal. She has also performed with rock/folk bands such as Geronimo Getty, Big Whup, and Slumberbeast. As a recording artist she has played viola, violin and musical saw on many albums; her arrangements for the title track on Geronimo Getty's album "Darkness Hides" can be heard on Hart of Dixie (S2, E22) and the movies Back in the Day (2014), Strutter (2012) and Teddy Bears (2013). She has worked as a recording artist at famed studios from Capitol Records, East West Studios, and with independent producers across Los Angeles.
Morgan’s work as an experimental composer and performance artist has premiered at venues in the Los Angeles area, including Pacific Design Center, the wulf., the Standard Hotel, Human Resources, SPACE, and many pop-up galleries and house shows. Her career as an educator has inspired her to use learning as a compositional and performance process for both students and professional musicians. Some of her pieces transform visual elements into a map for creating sound (Nip Nick Notch), while others place classically trained musicians into game scenarios to create music (Cosimo's Stars). A common thread throughout Morgan's compositions is increased responsibility to the performers and audience in generating material (Meltwater Pulse, Reaches), giving a distinctive timestamp to each individual performance. Her piece Meltwater Pulse (2014) was premiered at CalArts and conducted by Christopher Rountree of wildUP. She has collaborated on installations with visual artists Carrie Schreck and Samuel Partal on the projects ’Til I Get it Right (2011) and Heliographae (2012). Her string quartet Lost Plate (2013), performed by members of the Isaura String Quartet, can be heard on the Fault Lines compilation released by PACK PROJECTS. In 2014 as part of her MFA thesis she unveiled a hyper-instrument called the "Lunola" which uses violin skills to create new soundscapes. The instrument responds to light in order to produce sounds, using alternating strips of black and white instead of bow hair, and sounds were programmed using ChucK and Arduino. Morgan is always inspired to investigate new approaches to creating sound and approaching performance practice.