P A T R I C I A    V A N    N E S S


"Cor meum est templum sacrum is one of our favorite songs to sing and to program. It has created a transcendent moment on many of our sacred programs."

Composer, violinist, and poet Patricia Van Ness draws upon elements of medieval and Renaissance music to create a signature voice that has been hailed by musicians, audiences, and critics. She has been called a modern-day Hildegard von Bingen 1,2, with her ability to compose music "ecstatic and ethereal," "both ancient and new" 2,3. As in medieval aesthetics, her music and poetry explore the relationship between beauty and the Divine.

Patricia Van Ness's work has had an impact that is both local and global. She is Staff Composer for First Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts (Peter Sykes, Music Director) and has been an invited lecturer at Harvard University and Boston University. Her music has been commissioned, premiered, and performed by numerous musicians and organizations throughout the world, including The King's Singers (UK), the Heidelberg New Music Festival Ensemble, Chanticleer, Mannerquartett Schnittpunktvokal (Austria), the Celebrity Series in Boston, the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, Peter Sykes, Coro Allegro, and the Harvard University Choir. Her work has been presented in Rome and Assisi in Italy; the Musica Sacra Festival in Maastricht, Holland; and in halls and cathedrals throughout Italy, Austria, Finland, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, Sweden, Latin America, Canada, Latvia, Russia and the United States. She has been awarded residencies with the Boston Landmarks Orchestra and with Coro Allegro.

Ms. Van Ness has received numerous awards and grants, including the 2011 Daniel Pinkham Award from Coro Allegro (David Hodgkins, Artistic Director). Europe's prestigious 2005 Echo Klassik Prize was awarded to the ensemble Tapestry (Laurie Monahan, Director) for their recording "Sapphire Night" with music by Hildegard von Bingen and and a nine-movement work by Patricia Van Ness, and Chamber Music America awarded "Album of the Year" to Tapestry's The Fourth River, containing two of Van Ness's works.

Ms. Van Ness is currently composing new music for each of the 150 Psalms. The texts are in English and Latin using the Psalter and the Liber Usualis.

Ms. Van Ness's music may be found on iTunes and other online stores; The King's Singers's From the Heart; Chanticleer's Sound in Spirit recorded on Warner Classics; on Telarc International Recordings's Angeli (Ensemble P.A.N). and The Fourth River (Tapestry); on MDG Classics's Sapphire Night (Tapestry); on In the Clearing, and somewhere i have never traveled, Coro Allegro; on Parma Recordings's In Paradisum (In Paradise), Coro Allegro; on Sing the Glory! and Glorious the Song, The Harvard University Choir (Edward Elwyn Jones, Choirmaster); Albany Records' A Marvelous Love, Carson Cooman, organ; Passionately Unconventional: Madrigals and Motets by Nuns of Bologna, Moderna, and Ferrara, Cappella Clausura (Amelia LeClair, Artistic Director); and Advent and Other Music of the Liturgical Year, released by the composer.

Her scores are available on her website (www.patriciavanness.com). My Heart is a Holy Place is published by The King's Singers Choral Series, distributed by the Hal Leonard Corporation and available here. Ms. Van Ness is a member of American Composers Forum, ASCAP, and the International Alliance for Women in Music. She is a former member of the Board of the Cambridge Society for Early Music and currently serves on the Musical Advisory Board of Cappella Clausura (Amelia LeClair, Artistic Director). She lives on the coast of Maine with her husband, Peter Marks.

1 Gary Higginson, Music Web UK
2 Gaby Beinhorn, Suedwestrundfunk, Germany
3 Susan Larson, The Boston Globe


My artistic goal is to create things that move me and conform to my definition of beauty. I define beauty as that which is imbued with simplicity and elegance, and produces a balance of restraint and passion.

For me, this beauty is expressed most vividly in the music and illuminated manuscripts from the medieval and Renaissance eras, and these rich eras have inspired and influenced my own creative works. My musical compositions use medieval modal scales to create chant, homophony, and polyphony, and the fiber art I do, No Pattern Embroidery, is reminiscent of the borders of medieval illuminated manuscripts. As in medieval aesthetics, my creative works explore the relationship between beauty and the Divine.

Each Monday through Friday morning I compose music. In the evenings I embroider. The embroidery comes more easily than the compositions, but both teach me to work with texture and color, and try to express, in as simple and elegant a way as I am able, the beauty that gives my life its meaning.


2015 Composition Grant awarded by the Special Projects Committee and Special Projects Fund of the San Francisco Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
2011 The Daniel Pinkham Award, by Coro Allegro, David Hodgkins, Artistic Director
1997–2015 ASCAPLUS Awards
2005 The Echo Classic Prize: Tapestry, Laurie Monahan Director, for von Bingen/Van Ness's Sapphire Night
2004 Alfred Nash Patterson Foundation Award from Choral Arts New England for Requiem, Coro Allegro
2002 America Composers Forum, Boston Chapter and ParkArts for The Boston Landmarks Orchestra Residency and Commission 
2002 Alfred Nash Patterson Foundation Award for In Principio (In the Beginning), Youth pro Musica
2000 Alfred Nash Patterson Foundation Award for Nocturnes, Newton Choral Society 
1998 Meet the Composer Fund Award for Voice of the Tenth Muse, Coro Allegro 
1998 Meet the Composer Fund Award/Arts Midwest, Fort Wayne Children's Choir 
1998 Massachusetts Cultural Council Grants, as administered by the City of Somerville for Music Composition 
1997 First Prize, His Majestie's Clerkes Choral Composition Competition, Cor mei cordis
1994 Finalist, Schola Cantorum of Oxford University, The Barbara Johnston International Prize for Composers, for Five Meditations
1993 Special Recognition, Barlow International Competition for Choral Works, Evensong
1989 New England Biolabs Foundation Grant, for music composition 
1982 Recording Artist, A&M Records (violinist, "Private Lightning") 


Border art by Patricia Van Ness
"Cloister Garden #4" (2015) 8½" x 15½"
No Pattern Embroidery
Click here for more information about fiber art by Patricia Van Ness.

Design by Karl Hinze       Copyright © 2002–2016 Patricia Van Ness