Molly Turner
Photo by Molly Turner
Riverbank State Park, New York City, 2020


Sibelius Symphony No. 2
Beethoven Symphony No. 6
Schoenberg Kammersinfonie Nr. 1
february 2023
Collaboration: San Francisco SoundBox

Program curated by Pekka Kuusisto and Jesper Nordin

Musicians of the San Francisco Symphony

photos by Kristen Loken

february 2023
Collaboration: composer Dr. Anthony Brandt and the BRAIN Center

Diabelli 200 by Dr. Anthony Brandt (co-founder and Artistic Director of the Houston-based contemporary music ensemble Musiqa)

Live Projections from EEG data by Badie Khaleghian

Research Team from the BRAIN Center and The University of Houston

Musicians: Yvonne Chen, Tyler Martin, Maiko Sasaki, Jacob Schafer, Max Geissler, and Craig Hauschildt; Molly Turner, conductor

photos by Melissa Taylor

jan 2022
Interview: Salonen Fellow Molly Turner Talks Composition, Contemporary Music, and Covering for Esa-Pekka Salonen

By Clara Huang with The Colburn Conservatory

Full interview here


Tell us about your musical background, including how you got into conducting.

I grew up playing violin and piano. In high school, I gravitated towards composition. I was really drawn to improvisation and just making music up in the now. So I studied composition first and then I realized composition was kind of lonely and it wasn’t something that I wanted to pursue through a terminal academic degree. So later in my undergrad, I explored conducting. I was really lucky to be at a place where I could watch inspirational orchestra rehearsals led by Larry Rachleff at Rice.

For me, composing is having a core musical intention in your head and then writing it down and then getting it performed. But conducting is walking that road backwards and talking about how we perform works and how we rehearse and then taking a step back into what the composer thought. As a conductor, we take steps back into what a composer’s core musical intention was. So, they go hand in hand for me. They’re incredibly related. It always helps to be a composer that conducts their own works as well.

What do you hope to achieve with your music?

Perhaps it’s less about what music achieves than what it contains. Gustav Mahler once said, “A symphony must be like the world. It must contain everything.” It’s incredible how multidimensional music is. It expresses history, architecture, nature, story-telling, math, psychology, virtuosity, languages, and on and on. The purpose of my music-making is to tease out the specific corner of the cultural fabric that a given piece expresses and to bring that to the forefront of the audience’s experience.

Gallery: Conducting

1 / 13
Gstaad Festival; Theresa Pewal
2 / 13
Colburn Gala
3 / 13
Colburn Gala
4 / 13
Colburn Gala
5 / 13
Soldier's Tale
6 / 13
Soldier's Tale
7 / 13
The Dallas Opera Orchestra; Karen Almond
8 / 13
The Dallas Opera Orchestra; Karen Almond
9 / 13
New Art / New Music Series; Nash Baker
10 / 13
New Art / New Music Series; Nash Baker
11 / 13
New Art / New Music Series; Nash Baker
12 / 13
Eastern Festival Orchestra; Ken Yanagisawa
13 / 13
Eastern Festival Orchestra; Ken Yanagisawa

apr 2019
Recording: Max Vinetz, composer
Max Vinetz · Piano Concerto

16 April 2019 at Duncan Recital Hall; Houston, TX

Solo Pianist: Wesley Ducote

Rice Hear&Now Concert Series

Conducted by Molly Turner

dec 2022
Complete Performance: Schoenberg Kammersinfonie Nr. 1

Colburn Chamber Orchestra

1 December 2022

Zipper Concert Hall (Los Angeles, CA)

Audio: Jonathan Galle

oct 2020
Collaboration: Olivia Lerwick, singer

"I couldn't cry a lullaby"
an orignal tune and lyrics by Olivia
Molly, piano

tune: "the first time I ever saw your face"
sung by Olivia
Molly, piano

nov 2020
Recording: Su Jin Kang, composer
Su Jin Kang · In the Midst for Sextet

musicians: Viola Chan (flute), Raina Arnett (violin) Lara Lewison (violin), Jay Julio (viola), Amanda Chi (cello), Gracie Francis (piano)

conducted by Molly Turner

spring 2019
Viola Performance: Jake Sandridge, composer

"Flock" for viola and live electronics, performed by Molly Turner at the moody center of the arts; an excerpt.

fall 2019
Collaboration: Juilliard ChoreoComp, Zachary Detrick Composer

organic prototypes by Zachary Detrick

Choreography by Todd Baker

Dancers: Aaron Choate, Ellexis Hatch, Eleni Loving

Musicians: Euijin Jung, Stella Perlic, Bowen Ha, Julian Gonzalez; Molly Turner, conductor

spring 2019
Viola Performance: Matthew Toffoletto, composer
matthewtoffoletto · in the darkness of hour 7

Molly Turner (viola), Nathan Hsu (cello), and Matthew Toffoletto (piano) in recording at the shepherd school of music at rice.

more about this work from the composer

fall 2017 to spring 2019
Artistic Direction and Programming: New Art / New Music series

A bi-annual concert series where Rice composers create works inspired by current exhibitions at the Moody Center for the Arts.

Hosted generously by the the Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University

Featuring musical works in dialogue with Matthew Ritchie's "The Demon in the Diagram"

Photos from the concert in Fall 2018 (Nash Baker):

jan 2021
Collaboration: free improvisations

     broken looper

     "that's our show"

two free improvsation sets, recorded on iphone
recorded on canal st in january 2021

Pablo O'Connell, oboe
Ryan Jung, electronic piano with broken key
Webster Gadbois, synthesizer and milk frother
Molly, violin

feb 2018
Collaboration: Megan Lay, choreographer

original percussion duo by Molly Turner written in fall 2017

performed at mercyhurst university in pennsylvania

jan 2019
Interview: Building worlds, Featuring composition major Molly Turner

By Sunny Liu with the Rice Thresher

Full interview here


When it comes to her own composition process, Turner said there are many parameters to balance.

“My process usually starts with a graphic score,” Turner said. “It’s like a really bad stick-figure drawing of what I want my music to be. There are so many parameters — you’re thinking about how fast it is, what instruments you want to use, the kind of harmonic language that you want to use. You have to transfer that sound in your head to what that instrument has to do to what it has to look like on notation. You have to put it in notation so that someone else can also play it.”

After graduation, Turner plans to attend graduate school for conducting.

“Something I became interested in starting sophomore year is conducting,” Turner said. “There’s no undergrad conducting major — it’s really only a master’s program. [Conductors] probably start even later than composers. The best conductors are old conductors, because they’ve seen a lot, and [conducting is] seeing something on paper and knowing how to bring that to life.”

circa a long time ago
my fifth grade rockband

click here to watch us perform our hit single, "I don't really care"

performed live at the blackwater cafe in tacoma, washington