Rika Ellis

Multifaceted electro-acoustic composer & performer based in the SF Bay area


BIO & Selected Works


Rika Ellis is an acoustic/electro-acoustic composer, arranger, performer, and sound designer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her compositions draw on a broad range of influences - from the traditional sounds of her native Japan, to classical, jazz/Latin jazz, experimental, and electronic music. In her work she strives to blend these elements to create a tapestry where emotional and melodic structures can evolve to unveil new perspectives on the human condition.

Ellis composes for a variety of media and styles, including electronic, contemporary dance, vocal, instrumental, film, and soundscapes for mixed media and interactive/electro-acoustic performances. Her recent compositions focus on collaborations with choreographers/dancers and multimedia artists, emphasizing minimal acoustic sound resources to create various sonic timbres.

Her electro-acoustic compositions have been selected and performed at Society of Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS) conferences, and her string orchestra piece was chosen as the first Allen Strange Memorial Prize for the San Jose Chamber Orchestra.

She graduated Summa Cum Laude from San Jose State University with a BM Composition degree where she studied music composition/electro-acoustic music with Dr. Pablo Furman and Dr. Brian Belet. She also studied Latin-Jazz under the tutelage of Wayne Wallace, and jazz piano with the late Frank Sumares. Previous to that she studied composition with Dr. Anthony Gatto and Dr. Paul Davies at Foothill College. Ellis began studying piano in her native Japan at the early age of 3 years old and continued in the US as an adult with Machiko Kobialka and Dr. Gwendolyn Mok.

Ellis is an active member of SEAMUS and the Music Teacher Association of California (MTAC), and regularly teaches and performs in the Bay Area.

  • 2016 Fixed Electro-Acoustic workA Few Minutes of Your Time(collaboration with choreographer/dancer, Kristin Torok) performed at: Dance Gallery 25th Anniversary Concert at the Dance Gallery of Bellingham, WA & Sacramento 2016 Dance Sampler in Sacramento, CA, SAFEhouse Arts in San Francisco, CA; [performances ongoing]

  • 2015 Interactive Electro-Acoustic work “Sea Worthy” (collaboration with jazz vocalist, Lynea Diaz-Hagan; choreographer/dancer/videographer, Kristin Torok and dancer Erin Mitchell) performed at Crocker Museum, Sacramento, CA

  • 2014 Fixed Electro-Acoustic work (sampled voices and Okinawan sanshin) “てぃんさぐの花/Tinsaguno-Hana” selected and performed at the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS) conference Wesleyan University in Midtown, CT

  • 2013  String orchestra piece “深い河/Deep River,” chosen as the first Allen Strange Memorial Prize for the San Jose Chamber Orchestra  

  • 2013 Art Song “Quieting,” featuring Lynea Diaz-Hagan (librettist) and Yamaha Young Performing Artist, Katsuya Yuasa (clarinet), performed at Bay Area Composer Collective Concert at Le Petit Trianon, San Jose, CA 

  • 2012 Piano Trio “Sakura - Cherry Blossom,” performed at Bay Area Composer Collective Concert at Le Petit Trianon, San Jose, CA 

  • 2011 Fixed Media work “Chess” (collaboration with dancer/choreographer Marte Madera), performed at “Into Light - Memorial Concert for 9/11” in San Jose State University, CA 

  • 2011 Fixed Media work “Hadou/Undulation” selected for playback at the 2011 Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS) conference in Miami, FL 

  • 2008 Original Film Score for “Lost and Found,” short film for the San Jose 48 Hour Film Project directed by Teresa Widdowson 

  • 2008 Original Film Score for “How the Universe Works,” independent short film directed by Tomoya Nakamura  

  • 2008 Fixed Electro-Acoustic work “Hadou/Undulation,” performed at Photo and Music Exhibition: Collaboration with photographer Natsumi Matsumoto, Foothill College, CA 

  • 2007 Fixed Media work “Good and Evil,” performed at Exhibition: Good & Evil, Collaboration with Bay Area Book Artists – Krause Center Gallery, Los Altos Hills, CA 


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