Nan Avant, a native of the Pacific Northwest was brought up in a peaceful pastoral setting amidst artists on her maternal side and the rich South American heritage of Peru on her father’s side. Music was constantly playing in the background of her early years. Symphonies, musicals, South American music, Tangos, and Peruvian waltzes all contributed to her love of music
At an early age, she began studying piano and continued through high school and college. At the age of 16, she and her sister lived with relatives in Lima, Peru while their parents embarked on an adventure, riding motorcycles from Seattle to the border of Panama and Columbia. Living internationally was life-enriching and opened new vistas to her as a young person. Returning to the U.S. she continued her piano studies and expanded her horizon by learning to play the balalaika, becoming a member of the Seattle Balalaika Orchestra. It was also during this time in her life that she began composing music for piano.
These early life experiences: eclectic musical listening, international living, and music study at an early age, established her identity as an artist and became a catalyst in composing music with melodic intention.
Avant attended Cornish School of the Arts in Seattle and earned a BFA degree in Piano Performance from California Institute of the Arts. Her studies at CalArts included chamber, concerto, and solo recitals, coaching sessions with Leonard Stein, a teaching assistant of Schoenberg and Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer, Mel Powell, as well as Masterclasses with Richard Goode and Aaron Copland.
She is a graduate of the Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program under the direction of two-time Emmy winner Hummie Mann. Further studies in composition include Jazz Ensemble, Orchestration and Contemporary Writing Techniques, Berklee School of Music online program.
Avant has won awards for her music and is a four-time Nominee in the Hollywood Music in Media Awards. Avant’s Tributum for Celtic Bagpipes and Orchestra won the 13th Annual Independent Music Vox Populi Award for Best Instrumental Song. Her music embraces thematic and rhythmic intentions often reflecting her Latin heritage, encompassing her passion for classical, jazz, world and ethnic music. She has collaborated with Indie Filmmakers throughout the U.S. creating soundtracks for documentary, feature, animation and short films. She has been commissioned by Composers and Schools in Concert and has composed music for Burmer Music Productions LLC for concert premiers with the Northwest Sinfonia Orchestra. Avant’s concert music has been performed Internationally and throughout the United States and her music can e heard on CD compilations and digital platforms, Spotify, Apple, Amazon music.
Avant resides in Seattle with her husband Walt and their Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Piper.
Q&A with Film Composer and CalArts Alumna Nan Avant - CalArts Alumni News
Ballard resident & composer wins international music award - MyBallard.com
Award Winning Composer Nominated For The Hollywood Music In Media Award - The Business of Film Daily
Ballard composers set to premier new works at Benaroya Hall - MyBallard.com
An Audiovisual Concert – Origins: Life and the Universe - Astrobiology at NASA
“Nan Avant’s 'Bijoux' explores interstellar clouds of swirling gasses as they mass together and form stars. Its opening phrases beautifully communicate a sense of marvel.”
Jason Victor Serinus, Seattle Times
“The orchestra really enjoyed playing Tributum, and it was a hit with our audience as well.”
Tony Smith, Program Director, Louisville Philharmonia Orchestra
“I always admire and appreciate your compositions and [Soundness of the Sea for Violin and Orchestra] is no exception.”
John Carrington, Principle Harpist for the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra, the Bellevue Philharmonic and the Auburn Symphony
”I programmed the work after hearing a recording of it on the Sheet Music Plus website. I was randomly searching for works with bagpipe and orchestra and stumbled across Tributum purely at random, but I was immediately taken with it.”
Lucas Waldin, Conductor, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra
“In Tributum, Avant masterfully blends ethnic Celtic instruments with symphony orchestra to create a wonderfully moving work. Her majestic melodies and lush orchestrations transport the listener to the British Isles, it is an aural voyage worth taking.”
Hummie Mann, 2-Time Emmy Award-winning composer