Gabriel Kahane


GABRIEL KAHANE is an American composer and singer-songwriter living in New York City. Kahane is the son of a psychologist mother and the concert pianist and conductor Jeffrey Kahane. He attended the New England Conservatory before transferring to Brown University, where he wrote his first musical and graduated with a bachelor's degree in music.

Kahane’s style is eclectic, most often mixing his classical background with modern folk-pop influences. He is often compared to Sufjan Stevens and Rufus Wainwright and has collaborated with both of these artists. Kahane released a self-titled album, Gabriel Kahane, on Family Records in 2008, receiving positive reviews.

In September 2011, Kahane released his second singer-songwriter album, Where Are The Arms, on StorySound Records. It was recorded with many of his regular collaborators, including Rob Moose on violin and guitar, Matt Johnson on drums, and Casey Foubert, who also helped mix and produce it, on various instruments. These three musicians would also collaborate with him on his next album, The Ambassador.

For his 2014 album, The Ambassador, he used ten addresses in L.A. to write songs from the perspectives of characters both real and imaginary. The album was featured in Rolling Stone, Vogue, and Paste, and Kahane also wrote a piece about exploring L.A. through music for The New Yorker. The album was staged by Tony-award winner John Tiffanywith set design by Tony-award winner Christine Jones at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Carolina Performing Arts in the fall of 2014 and at University of California, Los Angeles in the spring of 2015. The song "Empire Liquor Mart (9127 S. Figueroa St.)" from The Ambassador was selected by NPR as one of their NPR Music's Favorite Songs Of 2014.

After the 2016 election, he embarked on a cross-country train trip that yielded the 2018 album Book of Travelers that inextricably links America’s abstract political reality with the human lives it has shaped.

Kahane’s best-known work, the song cycle Craigslistlieder, which was his first concert work and was re-released by indie record label Family Records in 2008, sets real Craigslist ads to music. Other artists have covered this voice-and-piano piece, and Audra McDonald has included Craigslistlieder in her standard repertoire.

In the spring of 2010, Gabriel Kahane performed as part of the American Songbook at Lincoln Center, garnering praise from the New York Times. During the 2010-11 season, he performed with cellist Alisa Weilerstein in a duo recital featuring music composed by Kahane, including Little Sleep's Head Sprouting Hair in the Moonlight. After writing a piano concerto for Natasha Paremski, he was commissioned by the Kronos Quartet to write The Red Book, a string quartet based on Anne Carson's Autobiography of Red, and by the Los Angeles Philharmonic for a large chamber work. Crane Palimpsest, a work about the Brooklyn Bridge, was conducted by Kahane's father, Jeffrey Kahane, conducting the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

As part of his 2012-13 residency with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Kahane wrote Gabriel's Guide to the 48 States inspired by the American Guide Series, commissioned by the government during the Great Depression. The piece received its New York Premiere at Carnegie Hall in April, 2013 with Orpheus playing and Kahane singing.

Other notable compositions include Come On All You Ghosts, a three-part song cycle setting Matthew Zapruder's poetry for a baritone and string quartet, and he frequently performs and records with such artists as Timo Andres, Brooklyn Rider, Rob Moose, and Chris Thile.

Gabriel Kahane began to work in theater in New York City after winning a Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Award for Straight Man, which he wrote in college. He worked with New York theater company Les Freres Corbusier, music directing A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant and the LA production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson for Michael Friedman and Alex Timbers.

His musical February House, commissioned by The Public Theater, told the story of a Brooklyn World War II-era commune, where W.H. Auden, Gypsy Rose Lee, Benjamin Britten, Carson McCullers, Jane Bowles, and Paul Bowles all lived together.

His album The Ambassador was staged in 2014-15 by Tony-award winner John Tiffany with set design by Tony-award winner Christine Jones. Kahane has been commissioned by the Signature Theatre (Arlington, Virginia) and The Public Theater in New York City and is currently under commission for new pieces for both theaters.