For Presenters & Educators

Megan IhnenAbout Megan Ihnen

American mezzo-soprano Megan Ihnen is recognized for her colorfully rich tone, powerful performance skills, and insightful musicianship in a diverse repertoire ranging from traditional works to the modern sounds of Crumb, Schwantner, Cage, and the most up-and-coming composers of her generation. Megan is a new music force of nature.

A prolific new music artist, Ms. Ihnen has appeared with the International Contemporary Ensemble, Fifth House Ensemble, Latitude49, Great Noise Ensemble, Stone Mason Projects, Rhymes With Opera, SONAR new music, and more. She has sung with many outstanding performers including Nadia Shpachenko, Nicholas Photinos, Michael Hall, Gregory Oakes, Nick Zoulek, Hillary LaBonte as well as premiered the work of Mara Gibson, Griffin Candey, Garrett Schumann, Christian Carey, Alan Theisen, Anna Brake, D. Edward Davis, Anthony Donofrio, and more.

Ms. Ihnen’s 2017-2018 season included engagements on SPLICE Festival, Oh My Ears, Second Sunday Concert Series at Boston Sculptors Gallery, Winifred M. Kelley Music Series at Salisbury House, and more. She has appeared with ÆPEX Contemporary Performance, Detroit New Music “Strange Beautiful Music Marathon”, Omaha Under the Radar Festival, Works and Process at the Guggenheim Series, Notes on Fiction Series at the Center for Fiction, New Music Gathering, Contemporary Undercurrent of Song Project, American Opera Theatre, Vivre Musicale, UCCS Music/Peak Frequency Creative Arts Collective, Harford Community College Sunday Afternoon Concert Series, and Silver Finch Arts Collective.

As a chamber musician, Ihnen has been featured at impuls International Ensemble and Composers Academy for Contemporary Music, Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice (SICPP), Fresh Inc Festival, Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA, and MusicX. Ms. Ihnen is also a founding member of the Seen/Heard Trio an ensemble of voice, flute, and harp. The Seen/Heard Trio’s model is dedicated to excellence and creativity in teaching and learning, immersive performance, audience experience, and developing the repertoire for the instrumentation of flute, harp, and voice. As musicians and recording artists, Seen/Heard Trio is devoted to featuring rarely-recorded or never-recorded composers.

Ihnen’s interpretations of modern and contemporary repertoire have garnered growing acclaim. She is particularly recognized as an excellent recitalist. Her This World of Yes program of contemporary music for voice and saxophone with Alan Theisen explores the themes of pathways, choices, and duality through the work of contemporary composers such as Jessica Rudman, Michael Young, and Michelle McQuade Dewhirst. This World of Yes has been performed across the United States including appearances in Kansas City, New Orleans, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Detroit, and Baltimore. With performances in Washington D.C., Baltimore, Colorado Springs, and Kansas City, Ms. Ihnen has worked with violinist Martha Morrison Muehleisen and Rome Prize winner video artist Karen Yasinsky to take audiences on a profound journey through György Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments through video and sound. Finally, Ihnen’s Single Words She Once Loved is a performance that centers around the ideas and effects of memory, dementia, and time. It is a deeply personal exploration of the dueling forces of ‘eternal sunshine of the spotless mind’ and ‘God gave us memories so that we may have roses in winter’. Single Words She Once Loved features compositions by David Smooke, Ryan Keebaugh, Daniel Felsenfeld, Jeffrey Mumford, and more.

In the spring of 2017, Ms. Ihnen undertook a fundraising project for her first album, “Sleep Songs: Wordless Lullabies for the Sleepless.” She commissioned over 25 diverse composers from the United States and abroad to write brief, wordless lullabies for mezzo-soprano. Megan has also had recordings on Hoot/Wisdom Recordings, I CARE IF YOU LISTEN Fall 2015 Mixtape, and the CarpeDM Seize Des Moines “Music Mix: Volume III” which was featured at the 2016 SXSW Festival.

Ihnen was honored to receive a Phyllis Bryn-Julson Award for Commitment to and Performance of 20th/21st Century Music in 2009 and a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in Classical Music: Solo Performance in 2014. She was an accomplished violist and drama student before pursuing degrees in music and vocal performance from Augustana University and the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. Ihnen has been a board member for Baltimore Concert Opera and HOWL performing arts ensemble.

Ms. Ihnen is a devoted teacher who recently shepherded studios at Drake University Community School of Music, Southwestern Community College School for Music Vocations, and Graceland University before taking on communications roles at Nief-Norf, Live Music Project, and New Music USA. She has also been a resident faculty artist for the UMKC Summer Composition Workshop and the Mostly Modern Festival. In addition to UMKC, Megan has presented her popular masterclasses, workshops, and lectures a Bowling Green State University, Xavier University of Louisiana, New Music Gathering, Iowa Thespian Festival, UNCG Greensboro, and Florida Atlantic University. She will also be a Visiting Artist for Louisiana State University for the 2018-2019 academic year.

In addition to being a avid podcast listener, Ihnen enjoys drinking good coffee, joking around with her sisters, tweeting about contemporary poetry, and watching Law & Order. She has grand dreams that one day her dog, Hunter, will be the best dog in the neighborhood. She lives in Des Moines, IA and out of her suitcase equally.

Program Bio

Megan Ihnen is a “new music force of nature.” Her performances thrive on elaborate sound worlds and fully-developed dramatic interpretations. Passionate about performing contemporary chamber music and opera, Megan has worked with individuals and ensembles around the globe including: International Contemporary Ensemble, Fifth House Ensemble, Great Noise Ensemble, Rhymes With Opera, and Synchromy. She is deeply committed to the belief that new music should be accessible in cities and towns of all sizes. She has recently traveled to and performed on SPLICE Festival, Oh My Ears, ÆPEX Contemporary Performance, Detroit New Music “Strange Beautiful Music Marathon”, Omaha Under the Radar Festival, Works and Process at the Guggenheim Series, and New Music Gathering. Her voice and saxophone duo Megan Ihnen & Alan Theisen present… has traveled to twenty four cities in the US since 2017. Learn more about Megan at meganihnen.com.

Short Bio

Megan Ihnen is a mezzo-soprano on a mission to change the world through the commissioning, performance, and proliferation of new music.

Download Digital Press Kit

"Megan is the type of performer that makes me wish I were a better composer, and then makes me sound like I am."

Kevin Wilt Composer

"Megan brought great artistry, spirit, and beautifully rich vocal color to a wide variety of new works in Stone Mason Projects' inaugural production. She proved a strong, capable and highly dependable force during the process of creating this performance. She embodies the community-based, hard-working, DIY spirit of new music."

Pamela Stein Lynde Soprano, Composer, Founder of Stone Mason Projects

"In January 2018, I had the pleasure of performing with Megan Ihnen in a new version of my composition 'Devonian Geometry' on the SPLICE Festival at Western Michigan University. Originally a score for mezzo-soprano, clarinet, percussion and electronics, the performance  at SPLICE was adapted to the circumstances in which neither the clarinetist or the percussionist were able to make it to the festival. Megan approached this more open version of the score with a great sense of timing and expression, expanding upon her written part with improvisation, sensitively responding to the live electronics and leading the work in new directions."

Erik Spangler Composer and Electronic Musician

"An unimaginable combination of sounds. Megan Ihnen and Alan Theisen make audiences feel right at home in This World of Yes through engaging dialogue and a performance of outstanding variety and impeccable musicianship. It is truly a performance that must be seen to be believed."

Marc Ballard Saxophonist

Composing a new work for Megan is way more fun than should be allowed. She’s a true collaborator and inspired me to try a wide array of new things that led to Phonetical Lullaby. It’s rare and valuable to find a singer who knows how to talk about their instrument in a clear and practical way. Megan’s intelligence and enthusiasm was somewhat like a graduate-level class in writing for voice…just way more fun.

Jason V. Barabba, Composer

Megan Ihnen not only flawlessly executes new works, she is an expert at engaging and educating audiences in a way that sparks curiosity and radiates a welcome attitude toward new music performance.

Elizabeth Kennedy Bayer Oh My Ears Artistic Director/Founder