sonifies feeling // physicalizes sound

"Her work is daring, vulnerable, vividly expressive, and outstandingly imaginative."

- Jamie Clark


"There's real imagination in this effecting music."

-Long Island Music Hall of Fame

"...Nikunen dances and also plays the flute, both at a very high level...the fact that Ms. Nikunen also wrote the music and created the choreography sets this performance on a...higher plane."

-SoundWordSight Arts Magazine

Annie Nikunen is a NYC-based composer, flutist, dancer, choreographer, sound artist and radio broadcaster, whose work ranges from concert music and field recordings to dance and film. Her work explores connections between composition and choreography, always considering the physicality of sound in relation to movement and space. Nikunen has an intimate relationship with movement, which is the infrastructure of her work. Introduced to ballet at 4 years old, she entered music thinking as a mover. After initially pursuing ballet on a professional track, selected to be the youngest Joffrey Ballet School Trainee at 13, she began exploring various modern dance styles - namely that of Isadora Duncan, Merce Cunningham and Yvonne Rainer, among others - as well as contact improvisation. She utilizes and amalgamates elements of ballet, modern and contact improv in her practice. Her research interests and critical writings examine sound-body connections, composer-choreographer relationships, embodied cognition, and sound’s relationships with gesture, language/text, emotion and memory.

​The physical and mental aspects in movement are ingrained in her mapping of sound. She aims to dissect ephemeral moments of sound that grab her in classical styles and permeate them into new music contexts. She also explores dynamics of human relationships, and is fascinated by cycles of brokenness and healing, and how sound and movement can represent those processes. She composes and choreographs about collective human experiences that are paradoxically individualized, striving to make her work broadly relatable yet deeply personal with phenomena all humans feel, but in personally-tailored ways. Nikunen sonically and somatically embodies and communicates emotion as empirically and intimately as possible so the listener/observer not only understands it, but resonates with it, or recognizes it in themselves. Her works have been featured nationally and internationally, performed by ensembles and performers including ZOFO, International Contemporary Ensemble, Fonema Consort, Apply Triangle, Hint of Lime Brass, Eleanor Sandresky, Jamie Clark, Camilla Caldwell, Arcangelo Pignatelli, and more. 


Choreography is a significant part of Nikunen’s compositional process; she sees music performance, composing, dancing and choreographing as four sides of the same square. She is the youngest company member of Periapsis Music and Dance, and the sole member to play these four roles. Nikunen has experienced both sides of music-dance collaborations in spaces from the stage to Central Park to the Chelsea gallery. She is an avid collaborator ranging from the national to international scale, with collaborators including principal bassist of New York City Ballet Orchestra Ron Wasserman, Julian Day, Zara Lawler, Jonathan Katz, Kosta Karakashyan, Camilla Caldwell, Joelle Santiago, Madeline Finkel and more. 

Referred to as the " flute player in the state of NY" by The Observer, Nikunen has performed in contemporary, classical, jazz, indie rock, theater, dance and Taizé settings. She is a founding member of NYC-based new music group Blackbox Ensemble, for which she is the flutist and Social Media/Marketing Manager. Blackbox performs throughout NYC, recently having been featured in The New Yorker and I Care If You Listen. She was most recently selected to participate in International Contemporary Ensemble's prestigious summer festival, Ensemble Evolution.


Nikunen is a DJ at WKCR, where she also served as Business Manager and Director of the Classical Department, and coordinated WKCR’s 40th-annual Bachfest. She hosts a weekly show every Friday 3-6pm, featuring music from classical to dance to contemporary. Her interviewees include Ola Gjielo, Rachel Barton Pine, Anne Akiko Meyers, Miró Quartet and others. She recently hosted a two-month series interviewing and premiering works of Columbia University's DMA composers in lieu of their live concert season. She is also a board member of the nonprofit NY Jazzharmonic.

Nikunen is currently pursuing an MM in Composition at NYU, and holds a BA in Music (composition/theory) from Barnard College, Columbia University, where she also studied flute performance in the Manhattan School of Music dual program with Tara O’Connor. Principal composition mentors include Julia Wolfe, Michael Gordon, Georg Friedrich Haas, Ellie Hisama, Seth Cluett, Zosha di Castri and Mahir Cetiz. Nikunen was actively involved with Columbia’s Computer Music Center, and was the recipient of the Charles S. Miller Award as well as the Boris & Eda Rappoport Prize, both for distinction in music composition, from Columbia’s Music Department.

Upcoming projects include a collaboration with Matt Sargent, the second interpretation of What kind of land will we be together in?  performed by Eleonor Sandresky and Jonathan Katz as part of Periapsis Music & Dance's 10th season set to choreography by celebrated DTH artist Da'von Doane, a new commission from Periapsis scoring in collaboration with choreographer Rohan Bhargava, scoring a new work for a dance film with Joelle Santiago, dancing in a multimedia work in collaboration with composer Kristian de Leon, a performance of Ap(he)art by Earth Ears as part of Sibafest 2022 in Helsinki, a new commission from bassist Evan Runyon, BlackBox Ensemble as spring 2022 Ensemble-in-Residence for NYU's graduate collective Nevermind the Noise, and more.