Jeff Kowalkowski is a free‐lance composer, arranger, keyboardist and bandleader performing classical, jazz, folk, and rock music, with a specialty in experimental “avant‐garde” and “new music.”  He also teaches composition and music theory. Some say he is a guru!


Recent commissions for original compositions include a Meet the Composer/Met-Life Creative Connections grant for a duo percussion concerto, a sound-installation produced by the Experimental Sound Studio (ESS) and the Chicago Park District at the Lincoln Park Conservatory, a tone poem for 13 clarinets and synthesizer for the Chicago Clarinet Ensemble, recording and live performances with the Exploding Star Orchestra in Chicago and Sardegna, Italy, substitute keyboardist on a brief tour with Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, and organization work for the New Music at the Green Mill concert series which began in 1988.

Jeff is Principal Facilitator for the Chicago Scratch Orchestra which has a current roster of 35 musicians.  Anyone is invited to join this ensemble/historical re-enactment, to study the music/philosophy of British composer Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981), and to “table” your own scores for the orchestra to perform.  Jeff also plays keyboards for the powerful 10-piece pig-band: King Pignacious.

Kowalkowski’s chamber music has been performed internationally, at major festivals including Darmstadt, Gaudeamus, Center Acanthes, June in Buffalo, and the Oregon Bach Festival; by Ensemble Integrales,  Asko Ensemble, Marquette Symphony Orchestra, and many small chamber groups and fine soloists, for example: Carrie Biolo (percussion), Barbara Lueneberg (violin), Jen Clare Paulson (viola), Anne La Berge. (flute/electronics), Eric Roth (voice/percussion) and Interzone Perceptible (accordion, electric bass, electronics).

Jeff helped found The Milkwood Foundation (1998) with Eric Markowitz, an audio production group that has focused on projects with underserved people.  He produced 3 CDs and toured with the duo Jack the Dog (Uvulittle Records, Madison WI.), toured an opera collaboration with Vienna-based composer Marko Ciciliani “Bosch tapped the gas pedal…”  He also served as piano player/music director on various Curious Theater Branch productions, including Rhinofest.  Jeff is a past-current member of the Chicago artist collective Lucky Pierre, and with this group he has performed and toured, currently he is assisting Lucky Pierre on a 12 hour performance marking 10 years of the Afghanistan War.

Jeff accepts a very limited roster of private composition students, and also offers single-session portfolio critiques.  Serious composers of any background, style, and age should inquire via e-mail to schedule lessons

His work is available in the following collection: Complete Catalogue of Musical Works (49+ original compositions in a wide variety of media, self-published, 1985-2011, BMI)

Jeff Kowalkowski’s composition “ruth, rubric-rational; realisms-relationals”as performed by the Chicago Clarinet Ensemble.