Hillary Charnas

Sound Design and Composition

Hillary Charnas is a sound designer, photographer, multimedia artist, composer, teacher and curator working in theater, television and radio, live-action immersive adventures and museum installation. 

Hillary was born in Glastonbury, Connecticut... a vast rural town that was known for its abundance of apples. 18 years of astounding misadventures later, Hillary found herself in Keene, New Hampshire... a quant town known for its abundance of pumpkins. This is where she earned her B.A. in Music Theory and Composition at Keene State College. Hillary soon received a teaching scholarship to The Hartt School of Music while studying for her M.M. in Music History. After two years of study with too many weekends spent at the Harvard Rare Book Library transcribing anonymous manuscripts written in German or French tablature (kindly donated by curious spelunkers from California) she made the wise decision to save what was left of her sanity and bow out gracefully from the life of a Renaissance historian. It happened on the same day her professor told her hooking up a digital effects processor to her lute defeated the whole purpose of preservation or conservation or whatever and that it made him sad which of course made her sad and yes, frankly she had never felt quite comfortable in any era but, the 1500’s were definitely not it.

Hillary sold her lute and built her first computer music set up with the goal of creating conceptually compelling, beautiful immersive worlds that moved around people in completely new ways using sounds that had never been heard before. She had felt strongly that Sound Art should be considered as important as photographs and paintings and that sound sculptures belonged in Museums and galleries as well. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the population was not ready to consider something invisible a serious art form yet and also, Hillary had no clue how to realize her sculptures technology-wise at the moment so, she was advised to seek out a guy that lived in her hometown of Glastonbury named David Budries. He turned out to be extremely helpful and, over apples, told her about a sound program that he was the current Dean. And then talked about a career called Sound Design that Hillary did not know existed. Four years later she received her M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama. 

Upon graduation, Hillary was hired by Yale’s Department of Music where she taught Popular Music 1950 to Present Day, Music Technology, Music Theory/Ear-Training and Practical Applications in Music, Multimedia Art, Video and Technology. After moving to NYC, she joined the Communications faculty at William Paterson University teaching Advanced Audio Techniques and Audio for Television and Radio. Other teaching and guest lecturing positions include Lincoln College, Central Connecticut State University, Paier College of Art and Yale University School of Art.

Hillary has designed sound and composed music for multiple shows in and around NYC as well as internationally. Recent projects include The Wonderful World of Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts, Nightmare Acres in South Windsor, Connecticut, re-install curator for Junk Kaleidoscope at The Aldridge Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut, character design and development for Jingles, Santa’s Favorite Elf on the Shelf in Hartford, Connecticut, character development for comedian Shirley Breuer of Hartford, Connecticut and composer for Fit For A Queen at the 3-Legged Dog for The Classical Theater of Harlem.