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Resounds: Megan Karls and Philip Aaberg

Philip Aaberg (left) and Megan Karls at the YPR studios
Anna Paige
Philip Aaberg (left) and Megan Karls at the YPR studios

Megan Karls is a professional violinist and the co-concertmaster of the Great Falls Symphony and the Cascade Quartet. She is the first woman in classical music in Montana to be awarded the Montana Arts Council’s Artist Innovation Award for her video album entitled Decommissioned: Solo Violin in Cold War Relics, filmed live in military structures across Montana. In 2022, she debuted her video album of place-based compositions performed in the state's historic mission churches, and she is focused on increasing awareness of Montana composers.

To bring attention to the complex history of Montana’s Catholic missions, Karls performed on location at St. Peter’s Mission, St. Mary’s Mission in Stevensville, St. Ignatius Mission on the Flathead Indian Reservation, and the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, also known as the Pink Church, located near Harlem on the Fort Belknap Reservation. Karls commissioned Montana composers Phillip Aaberg, Grant Harville and Charles Nichols to write compositions based on the locations.

Grammy and Emmy nominated composer Philip Aaberg of Helena, Montana, is known worldwide for his compositions that evoke the spaciousness and beauty of the Western landscape. By translating Montana’s farms, ranches, and native cultures into musical concepts, he’s forged a unique keyboard style that paints an audible portrait of his home state.

Aaberg grew up on the Montana Hi-Line in Chester and began playing music at age 4. Although classically trained, Philip celebrates many traditions with his compositions from blues to bluegrass, rock n’ roll to world music. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors throughout his career, including the Montana Governor's Award for the Arts, Montana Arts Council Artists Innovation Award, an honorary doctorate in music from Montana State University, the Montana Governor's Humanities Award, and he was named Montana's Treasured Artist in 2016.

Besides playing piano with the Boston Pops and participating in the Marlboro Chamber Music Festival, Philip has appeared with Peter Gabriel, Elvin Bishop, and the Doobie Brothers. He has cut eight solo albums, one of which, Live From Montana, received a 2002 Grammy nomination. As a guest artist, Philip has performed on over 200 albums and on PBS’s All-American Jazz, which earned him an Emmy nomination.

Corby Skinner is an independent marketing professional with an enormous capacity for assessing issues and creating positive, effective messages.
Anna Paige is a Montana-based journalist, poet and educator. She is originally from Wyoming and has lived in Billings for more than a decade, where she co-founded Young Poets, winner of the 2021 Library of Congress Award for Literacy.