Multi-winds performer, pianist, and conductor Dr. Ellen Weller is Professor of Music at Palomar College in California, where she teaches classes in music theory, ear-training, and music literature, and directs the Palomar Symphony Orchestra. She earned her B.A. and M.A. in Music Composition from Queens College of the City University of New York, and completed her Ph.D. studies at UCSD.
Weller divides her performance activities between improvisation, jazz, klezmer and classical music. She was an active member of San Diego’s Trummerflora Collective and one of the original members of Maiden Voyage, an all-female big band out of Los Angeles. Weller has performed with musicians including George Lewis, Mark Dresser, Bert Turetzky, Vinny Golia, Muhal Richard Abrams, Lisle Ellis, Vanessa Tomlinson, Mike Wofford, Holly Hofmann, Joe Marillo, Anthony Davis, David Borgo, Jason Robinson, Nathan Hubbard Skeleton Key Orchestra, Lesli Dalaba, Carla Kihlstadt, Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Hans Fjellestad, Marcos Fernandes, Michael Dessen, Michael Friedman, Dorbel Persian Music Ensemble, and the Second Avenue Klezmer Ensemble.
She has organized and/or appeared at several major festivals, including the SF Alt Festival, the annual Spring Reverb (San Diego), Between the Cracks (Oregon), and the Big Sur Sound Shift, and organized FINC, the Faculty Improvisers of North County. She is the co-founder of the improvisational performance group, “Wheels”, which has several times performed at Long Beach Sound Walk and most recently headlined at the Wonder Valley Experimental Music Festival. She co-organized yearly performances of Phil Kline’s “Unsilent Night” in Downtown San Diego, and completed two successful tours of Japan with electronic musician/percussionist Marcos Fernandes.
Weller has two CDs on the Circumvention label: her widely-acclaimed first CD as leader, Spirits, Little Dreams and Improvisations (2004) and “Point of Contact,” featuring her husband Bob Weller and internationally acclaimed bassist Mark Dresser (2008). Her compositions include works for orchestra, solo piano, flute, voice, and chamber ensembles, some exploring improvisation and graphic notation, and have been performed in New York, Detroit, San Diego and Los Angeles. Recent works include “Intervals of Peace” for viola soloist with orchestra and choir, “Tears of Babylon” for brass ensemble, “Bei Mir Bistu Sheyn: A Yiddish Swing Fantasy,” “Prior’s Waltz” for orchestra, “1918: for two pianos and community,” incidental music to “Angels in America” and “Pine Apple Rag” for piano solo and orchestra. Selections from her composition, “Jazz Suite for Piano” were recorded by Peter Gach on the 2010 recording, “Fresh Piano.”
Reviews of Point of Contact:
“Ellen Weller [is an] inspired musician with a high degree of intuition . . . These pieces are at home somewhere in the great distance between avant-garde jazz and new music. [Point of Contact] is an amazingly serious work.” Volkmar Mantei, Ragazzi.com, Website Für Erregende Musik http://www.ragazzi-music.de/weller08.html
“Ellen’s playing traverses the flute possibilities without overuse of voicing, and is expressive and fluid . . . a strong and inventive album that asks a lot of the listener but which repays the investment.” Jeremy Keens, Ampersand Etcetera Blog http://ampersandetc.blogspot.com/ April 22, 2008
“[T]he timbral palette is quite vast throughout the record and the sensitivity of the interaction is meaningful and engaging. .. a subdued patience that brings a measured pace, though contrasting tempi and radical shifts in density await around every corner… The tracks that include Dresser expand the sonic and rhythmic spectrum, though the two Wellers do a wonderful job of creating rhythmic drive and textural intrigue on the duo and solo cuts. Ellen’s flute playing is colorful, with unexpected turns and vocalizations on the solo track ‘Mandlebrot’…” -All About Jazz
Peter Gach, pianist – Fresh Piano [2010/Innova INNO 730] (includes composition)
Ellen and Bob Weller with Mark Dresser – Point of Contact [2007/Circumvention 052]
Trummerflora Collective – Rubble 2 [2006/Accretions/Circumvention]
Bob and Danny Weller – Tree of Thorns [2005/Circumvention 042]
Emily Hay, Marcos Fernandes – We Are. [2005/Public Eyesore #97]
Ellen Weller – Spirits, Little Dreams and Improvisations [2004/Circumvention 041]
Trummerflora Collective – Rubble 1 [2004/Accretions/Circumvention]
Trummerflora Collective – No Stars Please [2001/Accretions, ALP022]
Nathan Hubbard Skeleton Key Orchestra [2003/Circumvention, 039A-B]
Hans Fjellestad – Red Sauce Baby [2000/Accretions, ALP019]
Weller Bros Fire Martians – [1997/YUSM]
Weller Bros Coast to Coast – [1995/YUSM