Supported by: Knight Arts Challenge, Knight Foundation; St. Paul Cultural STAR grant; Metropolitan Regional Arts Council
Sight of Hand finds the musicality in baseball through a virtuosic, percussion performance that is influenced by real-life baseball signals and plays from St. Paul Saints coaches and players.




Supported by: Minnesota State Arts Board
New work for 2018-19 based on research and experience in the Arctic Circle and in northern Minnesota wilderness. Commissioned for Zeigzeist in honor of their 40th anniversary.


EAR + NOSE         
an on ongoing research and a series of new works that combine music and scent. 


 About Ear + Nose, Composer Mary Ellen Childs writes:
About 7 years ago I became interested in creating pairings of music and scent and envisioned creating a series of pieces – a body of work – that weds these two artistic worlds. To prepare, I began studying scent and how our noses work, and researching fragrance as an art form. I travelled to France to meet with a master nose (the founder of the world's largest perfume archive); visited the Museum of Perfume in Grasse; spent time at the Center for Art and Olfaction in Los Angeles; talked with sense scientists; read a great deal; made a few tries at creating my own blends; visited some extraordinary scent shops, and much more. I started experimenting with combining scent and sound by hosting a series of “scent dinners” in my home, where I served alternating food and scent courses, pairing each of the scent courses with my music. I am most interested in the aesthetic pairing of these two senses. How does what we smell affect how we hear? Both are powerful activators of emotion and visceral response. I don’t intend for the music to copy or translate the scents, but to compliment and extend the experience, much like pairing food and wine.

In addition to the series of private scent dinners, to date performances in the Ear + Nose series include:

July 26, 2019 - MCAD Gallery, Minneapolis - Premiere: Night Blooming, commissioned for OboeBass! in honor of Cy DeCosse by Penny and Bill George and The George Family Foundation
May 3, 2019 - Premiere: Scent Songs, commissioned by Minneapolis Guitar Quartet (for guitar and mezzo soprano Clara Osowski) - Sundeen Hall, St. Paul
Fall 2018 - Scent research and creative residency, Emily Harvey Foundation, Venice, Italy
February 16 & 17, 2017 - Studio Z, Zeitgeist - new musical works that include designed scents
June 2015 - Northern Spark, Minneapolis - installation with music and aroma



Kontras Quartet, Farnsworth House

Kontras Quartet, Farnsworth House


Farnsworth House
, Plano, IL – Art + Architechture Project, 2015
Art: Inspiration Amplified was a collaboration between the National Trust for Historic Preservation and United States Artists that created a public program for the Chicago Architecture Biennial. The program commissioned and presented a new work by United States Artists Fellow Mary Ellen Childs, (Stone Steel Wood Glass Light) that was inspired by the Farnsworth House and its landscape. Performed by the Kontras Quartet.

FIELD – for choreographer Judith Howard
Premiered at Carleton College, November 2015




Bellagio Center Residency, Italy

Bellagio Center Residency, Italy

Bellagio Center, Italy, February 2016
Mary Ellen Childs was in residence at the Bellagio Center to work on ON BEYOND, with collaborators Claire Porter, Liz Engelman, and Alan Johnson. 

Yaddo, Saratoga, NY, November-December 2013

Brush Creek Ranch, Saratoga, WY, March 2012










LIAISONS: Re-imagining Sondheim at the Piano (2015)
Conceived by acclaimed concert pianist Anthony de Mare, LIAISONS is a landmark commissioning, live performance, and recording project based on the songs of legendary musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim. The Project invited 36 of the world’s foremost contemporary composers to choose a song by Sondheim and re-imagine it as a solo piano piece. Available for purchase here.


DOCUMERICA, string quartet ETHEL
The album features new work commissioned from four uniquely American artists—the acclaimed composer Mary Ellen Childs, Grammy Award-winning jazz drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr., Chickasaw Nation’s Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, and West Point commissionee James “Kimo” Williams. Hailing from different regions, backgrounds and generations, each composer contributes his or her distinctive voice to a score that represents the diversity of America. ETHEL’s Documerica made its world premiere in BAM’s 2013 Next Wave Festival. The live production is a multimedia concert, directed by OBIE Award-winner Steve Cosson, with thousands of Project Documerica images incorporated into a projection design by renowned artist Deborah Johnson. The New York Times characterized the evening-length work as “new music bonding with old images in rich, provocative and moving ways.” Available for purchase here.