Charles Halka writes acoustic and electronic music for concert, dance, and opera, and his works are often inspired by language, visual imagery, movement, and human experience. His music has been performed in North America, Europe, Asia, and Brazil, including performances by the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra led by Marin Alsop, Alarm Will Sound, the Mexican National Symphony Orchestra, the Lviv Philharmonic, Odessa Philharmonic, counter)induction, Callithumpian Consort, Mivos Quartet, Volti, ÓNIX Ensamble (Mexico), PRO ARTE eNsemble (Russia), Aquarius (Belgium), Duplum Dúo (Mexico), Jauna Muzika (Lithuania), and Pictures on Silence, among others. As a 2008-09 U.S. Fulbright grantee, he spent a year in Vilnius, Lithuania researching Lithuanian music and writing an opera in collaboration with director and librettist Marija Simona Šimulynaitė. The opera, Julius, was premiered in 2010 in Vilnius, and a choral excerpt from the opera, Dipukų Rauda, was performed at the ISCM World Music Days 2012 in Belgium. In 2011, Round and Round, based on a work by the American music patron Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, was premiered at the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress, and in 2013 he premiered a revised version in Hong Kong at the Intimacy of Creativity partnership led by composer Bright Sheng.

Among Halka’s recent honors are a Barlow Endowment General Commission (2019) and the Copland House Residency Award (2015), and he was in residence with Houston’s critically acclaimed Musiqa (2014-15) and the Foundation for Modern Music (2011-14). In addition, he completed residencies at the MacDowell Colony and the M.K. Sarbievijaus Cultural Center in Kražiai, Lithuania, where he wrote a chamber opera, And Jill Came Tumbling After (libretto by John Grimmett) for the Baltic Chamber Opera Theater that was selected for Fort Worth Opera’s 2015 Frontiers showcase. Imaginary Spaces, his dance and percussion project in collaboration with Houston dance company Frame Dance Productions, was awarded support from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.

Halka studied music in the United States, Russia (Saint Petersburg Conservatory), and Lithuania (Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theater) and holds degrees in both piano and composition from the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied piano with Brian Ganz and composition with Michael Hersch and Judah Adashi. He earned a Doctor of Musical Arts from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he studied composition with Richard Lavenda, Kurt Stallmann, Pierre Jalbert, and Arthur Gottschalk, and piano with Brian Connelly. Additionally, he studied privately with Samuel Adler through the FUBiS program in Berlin and participated in master classes with several well-known composers, including Bright Sheng, Christopher Theofanidis, Roger Reynolds, and Kaija Saariaho. Previous teachers also include Osvaldas Balakauskas for composition and Stephen Drury, Nina Seryogina, and Roger Price for piano.

Halka is Assistant Professor of Composition and Theory at Western Washington University. He was previously on faculty at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Stephen F. Austin State University, and has taught courses at Rice University, The Peabody Conservatory, and the University of Houston. He is a member of ASCAP, the American Composers Forum, SCI, SEAMUS, and NACUSA.

Awards and honors include

  • Mizzou International Composers Festival (2019)
  • Barlow Endowment for Music Composition General Commission (2019)
  • Nevada Arts Council Jackpot Grant (2017)
  • Tribeca New Music Young Composer Competition (2017, First Place)
  • Núcleo Música Nova Call for Works (2017)
  • TEMPO New Music Ensemble Call for Scores (2017)
  • Boston New Music Initiative Commissioning Competition (2017, Honorable Mention)
  • Flute New Music Consortium Composition Competition (2016, Honorable Mention)
  • UNM John Donald Robb Composers’ Symposium Call for Scores (2017)
  • Chorosynthesis Call for Scores (2016)
  • Symphony Number One Call for Scores 3 (2016 Performer’s Choice Award)
  • SICPP Commission (2016)
  • Swiss Contemporary Music Festival Forum Wallis Call for Works (2016)
  • Copland House Residency Award (2015)
  • Fort Worth Opera FRONTIERS Program and Competition (2015)
  • Hartford New Music Festival Call for Scores (2015)
  • MacDowell Colony residency (January 2014)
  • C4 Commissioning Competition (2014, Honorable Mention)
  • Circuit Bridges Call for Electronic Works (2014)
  • ClefWorks Composition Competition (2013, Finalist)
  • Electronic Music Midwest Call for Scores (2013)
  • Aries Composers Festival Call for Scores (2013)
  • ASCAP Foundation Rudolf Nissim Prize (2013, Special Distinction)
  • Foro Internacional de Música Nueva (2013 and 2014)
  • SCI National Conference (2013)
  • New Fangled Opera Call for Scores (2013)
  • Lake George Music Festival Composition Competition (2012, 2nd Place)
  • Simon Carrington Chamber Singers Choral Composition Competition (2012, Finalist)
  • ISCM World Music Days 2012 (performance in Belgium, November 2012)
  • Frame Dance Productions Composition Competition (2012, Winner)
  • Boston Metro Opera Composers’ Competition (2012, Winner)
  • RED NOTE Competition (Finalist, 2012 and 2013)
  • Wild Rumpus Call for Scores (2012)
  • American Modern Ensemble Composition Competition (2011, Honorable Mention)
  • Dallas Festival of Modern Music Call for Scores (2011, Finalist)
  • Boston New Music Initiative Call for Scores (2011 and 2013)
  • Northridge Composition Prize (2011, Winner)
  • Volti Choral Arts Laboratory (2011, Finalist)
  • New Dischord Call for Scores (2011, Winner)
  • Saint Petersburg Contemporary Music Center Composition Competition (2011, 4th Place)
  • Robert Avalon International Competition for Composers (2011, 2nd Place)
  • ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards (2010, Finalist)
  • Vox Juventutis competition for choral works (2009, 2nd Place and Choir’s Favorite Award)
  • counter)induction Composition Competition (2009, Honorable Mention)
  • ONIX Intercultural Composition Competition (2009, Honorable Mention)