Mona Lyn Reese concentrates on opera, orchestra, and choral music. Her work is melodic and accessible with an emphasis on driving or complex rhythms, movement, and contrasting textures. Her music communicates and expresses emotions traditionally or experimentally without allowing a prevailing fashion to dictate style, form, or harmony.
Composer-in-Residence at the Minnesota Opera from 1991-1999, she arranged works for the Minnesota Opera touring company and conducted educational residencies to help students write and produce original operas.
Reese’s opera The Three Fat Women of Antibes received its premier performance with orchestra by the San José State University Opera Workshop (Michel Singher, Music Director, Daniel Helfgot, Director). The opera, written with librettist Thomas Hassing, is a humorous chamber opera for four singers based on the W. Somerset Maugham short story of the same name.
Reese received a Continental Harmony Commission in 2000. The American Composers’ Forum and the National Endowment for the Arts created the Continental Harmony program to enable small to mid-size communities in each state to commission new pieces for the millennium.
Reese was awarded a Faith Partners Residency sponsored by the American Composers Forum and the Otto Bremer Foundation. She collaborated with librettist Delores Dufner OSB, on the dramatic oratorio Choose Life, Uvacharta Bachayim which premiered at the Basilica of Saint Mary, Minneapolis (Teri Larson, Music Director). The following year, the Otto Bremer Foundation gave Reese an additional grant to write a symphonic version that was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1995. The symphonic version was performed by the Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale (Uri Barnea, Music Director) and was also performed by the Basilica of Saint Mary, Minneapolis (Teri Larson, Music Director), as part of the “Basilica 2000” series. The San José Chamber Orchestra and Chorus released Choose Life, Uvacharta Bachayim, recorded at Skywalker Sound in Marin County, California.
Reese’s orchestral works have been performed by orchestras throughout the country including the Minnesota Orchestra, the Livingston Symphony (New Jersey), the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the San José Chamber Orchestra.
Reese records with PARMA Recordings on the Navona and Ansonica labels.