Monica (Niki) Houghton was born in Vermont and raised in northern Nevada. She holds A.B. and A.M. degrees from Harvard University in Chinese Language and Literature and East Asian Studies. She earned an M.M. in Composition from the Cleveland Institute of Music in 2003 and served as Instructor for their Joint Music Program with Case Western Reserve University for nine years before moving back to Nevada in 2011.
Houghton received an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council in 2007. Her works for large ensemble have been performed by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, the University Circle Wind Ensemble, Heights Chamber Orchestra, Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra, Contemporary Youth Orchestra, and Reno Philharmonic. She has also composed solo and chamber works for a wide variety of instruments and instrumental combinations.
Her many vocal works have included settings of texts and phrases in Spanish, Latin, German, French, Italian, and Chinese, as well as her native English. In addition to art songs she has composed several chamber pieces with voice, and a number of choral works, both secular and sacred. Her opera The Big Bonanza was premiered in a full production with orchestra by Nevada Chamber Opera in April 2016.
Houghton works have been performed widely in recitals and at music festivals around the country and the world, including the AKI Festival of New Music, Ernest Bloch Festival, Nevada Chamber Music Festival, Oregon Bach Festival, Virginia Arts Festival, and Shanghai Spring International Music Festival.
Houghton’s music has been described as “evocative” and “full of feeling.” A glance at her catalog reveals a wide range of influences inspiring her works including nature, poetry, the visual arts, language, science and world events. She appreciates and often draws inspiration from live performances by living artists for her compositions.