Award-winning composer Jake Runestad (b. 1986) is noted for his versatility and wide range of expressive capabilities with music driven by soaring melodies, driving rhythms, and lush textures. Considered “highly imaginative…with big ideas” (Baltimore Sun) and “stirring and uplifting” (Miami Herald), Jake is a composer with diverse musical experiences, spanning several continents, that have inspired him to create music that captures the emotional vibrancy of life experiences while transcending diverse musical genres.

Mr. Runestad has had performances by professional, student, and community ensembles around the world. He has received numerous commissions from ensembles and organizations such as the Virginia Arts Festival, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Seraphic Fire vocal ensemble, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, the Rockford Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, the Peabody Children’s Chorus, and the Lunar Ensemble. Mr. Runestad has also worked with many ensembles as a guest conductor and clinician of his music and often gives masterclasses on composing and music business.

As a conductor, Jake Runestad has worked with student, volunteer, and professional ensembles across the U.S.A. and was the founder and artistic director of the Anima Nova Chamber Choir, a professional ensemble based out of Baltimore, MD, and the Mwimbaji Choir of Winona, MN that performed locally and at the Minnesota Music Educator’s Association state convention. An advocate of new music, he has conducted the premiere of several of his own works as well as programmed those of up-and-coming composers. He has traveled extensively to experience new cultures and musical sounds and for his bachelor’s degree in music education, he completed his student teaching in Lima, Perú . There, he immersed himself in the musical culture and studied cajón, a traditional Peruvian percussion instrument, with acclaimed percussionist María Del Carmen Dóngo.

A diverse composer, Mr. Runestad has a prolific output represented in many genres including music for wind band, chorus, orchestra, chamber ensembles, jazz ensemble, and opera. He has received awards and grants from ASCAP, the American Composers Forum, the Peabody Conservatory, the Otto Bremmer Foundation, VocalEssence, the Virginia Arts Festival, the National Association for Music Education, and the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota. In the summers of 2011 and 2012, he was awarded full fellowships for the John Duffy Composer’s Institute at the Virginia Arts Festival where his operas, The Toll and The Abbess and the Acolyte, were workshopped and performed. He also worked closely with acclaimed composers Bernard Rands, Libby Larsen, David Lang, Tania León, John Musto, and John Duffy. Jake’s Lux Aeterna for SSAA choir was selected as a winner for the 2012 Essentially Choral Reading Session with Minneapolis-based VocalEssence and conductor Philip Brunelle.

Recent performances include Fear Not, Dear Friend by Cantus – “the premier men’s vocal ensemble in the United States (Fanfare), I Will Lift Mine Eyes by the Grammy-nominated vocal ensemble Seraphic Fire, As Rain to the Sea for soprano and orchestra conducted by Maestro Lee Mills, the Baltimore Symphony-Peabody Conducting Fellow, and The Toll – a one-act opera performed at the Virginia Arts Festival as a part of the John Duffy Composer Institute. Current commissions include Dreams of the Fallen for large choir, solo piano, and orchestra commissioned by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra for pianist Jeffrey Biegel and a consortium of orchestras, a piece for the 2014 Minnesota All-State Chorus, and a new work for the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay conducted by Dr. James Bass.

Jake Runestad holds a Master’s degree in composition from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University where he studied with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts. He has also studied extensively with acclaimed composers Libby Larsen and Donald Fraser. He is currently a composer-in-residence with the Baltimore-based Lunar Ensemble. Mr. Runestad’s music is published by Boosey & Hawkes and JR Music. Find out more at