Rachel Epperly is a composer-performer who is passionate about composing across genres, making music about gender, and exploring the vulnerability of the human voice. In addition to being a composer, Rachel is a pianist, experimental vocalist, and accordionist. Though classically trained, she takes much of her inspiration from experimental pop music and the Korean traditional vocal genre pansori: she loves pop music's penchant for narrative and persona and pansori's raw, guttural vocal quality. Rachel recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelors in composition and will be going to South Korea on a Fulbright scholarship in 2019-2020 to train in pansori and compose/perform a narrative song-cycle.
Rachel has been a participant at various fellowships and programs including the Silk Road Global Musician Workshop, the So Percussion Summer Institute, and the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music. In 2014, she was the youngest composer to be commissioned by the Grand Rapids Symphony.
Rachel frequently inhabits theatric personas in her works to explore themes related to gender and sexuality. Two recent examples include “Girly!,” a performance art piece in which she plays a Barbie undergoing an identity crisis in a TV commercial, and “Savior,” a piece for accordion and voice about a woman who progresses from shame to empowerment upon being interrogated for impurity.
Aside from music, Rachel is heavily involved in the study of Korean culture and music: she has received the University of Michigan’s prestigious Sang Yong Nam award for her commitment to Korean studies, presented research on gender inequality faced by Korean women composers, and contributed music reviews and interviews on the website Korean Indie.