And that odd muse of mine,

My versipel, is with me everywhere,

In carrel and in car, and in my chair.

Vladimir nabokov, “Pale Fire”



changeable; protean; having a form, nature or appearance that changes often.

Versipel New Music presents contemporary classical music, New Orleans style. Reflecting the breadth and beauty of the classical concert music scene of today, we perform music of the late 20th and 21st centuries, music inspired by our modern, peripatetic, global and technologically driven lives. Frequently collaborating with living composers both in the U.S. and overseas, our programs span a diversity of styles from fresh European modernism, to U.S. postmodernism, with a heavy dose of technology, improvisation and performer creativity thrown in. At a Versipel show, you’ll see and hear music that is recent and new, fresh from the composer’s pen (or pencil… or computer), pieces that are often being performed for the very first time.

Versipel reflects the idea of the constant morphing of the artistic muse and how contemporary music continuously reforms, reshapes and grows anew. As a free-spirited city with its unique convergence of cultures and eclectic traditions in music and in art, New Orleans makes a perfect home for adventurous and innovative new music. Because of the multifaceted nature of the New Orleans cultural and artistic scene, we have created an organization designed to be versipellous, to change shape and take on audience engagement in many different ways. Our concerts are performed by the Versipel Collective, a group of local musicians dedicated to exploring the outer realms of contemporary music through the use of electronics, computers and improvisation as well as visiting artists and ensembles from all over the world.

Currently in its ninth season, Versipel New Music has presented over 35 concerts around New Orleans in a variety of venues such as The Marigny Opera House, The High-ho Lounge, and Tulane University’s Dixon Recital Hall and at local festivals such as the French Quarter Festival and Southern Sonic Festival at the Contemporary Arts Center in 2018. A champion of local composers, the Versipel Collective has premiered works by Kari Besharse, Philip Schuessler, Rick Snow, Jeff Albert, Maxwell Dulaney and James May and performed the works of numerous other Louisiana-Based composers such as Courtney Bryan, Mara Gibson, and Stephen David Beck. Versipel has also brought many late-20th and early 20th century “classics” to the New Orleans stage including “Workers Union” by Louis Andreisson, “Coming Together” by Rzewski, “Postal Pieces” by James Tenney, and recently, Pulitzer-prize winning composer Raven Chacon’s “Biyan.” In 2019, Versipel was nominated for a Gambit best in chamber music award for the program “Viva NOLA: Composition in New Orleans at 300” which featured the works of Louisiana composers Ben Stonaker, Maxwell Dulaney, Courtney Bryan, Jeff Albert, Anna Walton and Tucker Fuller.

As part of the Visiting Artist Series, Versipel has brought cutting-edge contemporary music groups and artists such as Loadbang, Hub New Music, Nouveau Classical Project, Hypercube, Byrne/Kozar Duo, Unheard-of//ensemble, pianist Mabel Kwan, trombonist Will Lang, and electric guitarist Giacomo Baldelli to New Orleans.


Kari Besharse, director

Continuously exploring the myriad ways that music intersects with science, nature, and the human world, Kari Besharse’s compositional output spans various facets within the field of contemporary music, fully engaging new technological resources as well as traditional instruments and ensembles. Her works, which incorporate sounds from acoustic instruments, found objects, the natural world, and sound synthesis, are often generated from a group of sonic objects or material archetypes that are subjected to processes inspired by nature, physics and computer music. Currently a lecturer at Southeastern Louisiana University, Dr. Besharse has also taught music theory, music history, and electronic music courses at Illinois Wesleyan and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Kari’s education includes undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, and graduate work at the University of Texas at Austin and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

 Philip Schuessler, assistant director

Philip Schuessler’s music explores the intricacies of subtle timbres and delicate dynamics through extended acoustic and electro-acoustic resources. His works have been championed by such artists and ensembles as Yarn/Wire, Loadbang, Mantra Percussion Ensemble, Dither Guitar Quartet, Hypercube, Byrne:Kozar:Duo, violinist Graeme Jennings, pianist Mabel Kwan and cellist Craig Hultgren. He is currently an instructor of music theory and composition at Southeastern Louisiana University. His music is published by Pendula Music, Potenza Music, Alia Music, Murphy Music Press, and SCI Journal of Scores. Recordings of his compositions may be found on the Centaur, Curvepoint, and Capstone labels.

Board of Directors:

Kari Besharse

Philip Schuessler

Megan Ihnen

Jeff Albert

Rick Snow

For updates on concerts and other activities, please sign up for the Versipel New Music Mailing List HERE.

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