Click here to read about our forthcoming Sweet Thunder Festival!
Artists marked with asterisk will be in San Francisco for the Festival
|Katharina Rosenberger (Viva Voce)||George Lewis||Roger Reynolds|
|Tom Erbe (Sweet Thunder Listening Room)||Rand Steiger||Edgard Varèse|
|Jonathan Harvey||Nathan Davis||Mario Davidovsky|
|Steve Reich||Anna Thorvaldsdottir||Luigi Nono|
|Ed Campion||Maria Stankova||Kaija Saariaho|
|Turgut Ercetin||Morton Subotnick||Ashley Fure|
|Kevin Ernste||Ken Ueno||Karlheinz Stockhausen|
|Natacha Diels||Matt Ingalls||Jaime Oliver|
|Wendy Richman||Javier Alvarez||Stacey Pelinka
|Daniel Kennedy||Pamela Z|
Katharina Rosenberger (Viva Voce), born in Zurich, holds a Master of Music from the Royal Academy of Music in London and graduated in 2009 with a Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition from Columbia University. Principal teachers include Tristan Murail and Michael Finnissy. Since Fall 2008, Katharina holds the position of Assistant Professor in Composition at the Department of Music, University of California, San Diego.
Much of her work manifests in an interdisciplinary context and is bound to confront traditional performance practice in terms of how sound is produced, heard and seen. She often works in a collaborative setting and links her music (for acoustic and electronic mediums) and installations with the theatre, video art and modern dance.Recently, her work has been featured at the Shanghai New Music Week 2009, the Shanghai International Electro-Acoustic Music Festival, and the October Contemporary in Hong Kong, the Weimarer Frühlingstage, Germany, and the Festival Archipel, Switzerland. Previous festival participation include the Festival für Neue Musik, Bamberg, Zürcher Theaterspektakel, Festival La Bâtie – Festival de Genève, Schweizer Tonkünstlerfest Switzerland, Festival Les Musiques, Marseille, Zoo Bizzarre Bordeaux, Centre Acanthes at the Avignon Festival, France, Bath Festival, UK, New Media Art Festival, Yerevan, Armenia, International Festival of Modern Arts, Odessa, Ukraine and the Festival “atélier trideni plus”, Prague, Czech Republic. Rosenberger maintains an active musical live on the East and West Cost of America and throughout Europe.
Awards include the Reid Hall and Camargo Foundation Fellowships, the 2007 Pro Helvetia composition commission, 2005 “Mediaprojects Award”/ Projekt Sitemapping of the Swiss Federal Agency (OFC), and the Landis&Gyr London Studio Prize. In 2005 Katharina Rosenberger was composer in residence with the Orchestre de Nîmes, Nîmes, France.
link to Viva Voce and other artist bios on the project
Tom Erbe (“Sweet Thunder Listening Room” curator) has had an important role in American experimental and electronic music of the last 20 years. In addition to his pioneering and widely used program SoundHack, he has become one of the most sought after and respected sound engineers for contemporary music. He studied computer science and music at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and got his initial audio engineering experiences by volunteering at WEFT, WPGU, and Faithful Sound Studios. After graduating Tom became the Technical Manager of the Computer Audio Research Laboratory at the University of California, San Diego. There he was involved in the development of an electronic violin, a DSP based sound processor and an early computer music production workstation.
As the Technical Director of the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College, he worked with composers Robert Ashley, David Rosenboom, Larry Polansky, James Tenney and Alvin Curran, as computer music and recording engineer. His research work at CCM included the program SoundHack, and the design of a DSP based sound processor for use with the language HMSL. During this time he also developed a 4-channel spatial audio processor for the NASA Ames Research Center. Joining the faculty of the California Institute of the Arts as Technical Director of the computer music studios in 1993, he continued his work with SoundHack and spectral techniques, teaching courses in computer music, programming and audio engineering. Tom also directed the design and construction of CalArts’ Dizzy Gillespie Recording Studios. He rejoined the faculty of UCSD in 2004 in its Department of Music and serves as Studio Director. Most recently Tom has released SoundHack Spectral Shapers, the first of a planned set of three plugin bundles to bring extreme spectral processing to the VST, AU and RTAS formats. He has recently been named the President of the International Computer Music Association.
Edmund Campion’s work takes a particular focus on the relationships between sound and space and an integration of acoustic instruments with computer technology. Born in 1957 and raised in Texas, he was drawn to graduate study with electroacoustic pioneer Mario Davidovsky at Columbia University, followed by study with composer Gérard Grisey at the Paris National Conservatory. Following his formal studies, Campion has been a regular guest of the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) in Paris where he has conceived major works for performers and electronics. His many commissions include from IRCAM, Radio France, the French Ministry of Culture, the Fromm Foundation, and the Koussevitzky Music Foundation.
In October 2012 his concerto for string quartet, orchestra and electronics The Last Internal Combustion Engine was premiered by the Kronos Quartet with the Santa Rosa Symphony. Since 1996 Campion has served on the composition faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is Co-Director at the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT). Other prizes and honors include: the Rome Prize, the Nadia Boulanger Award, the Paul Fromm Award at Tanglewood, a Charles Ives Award given by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Fulbright scholarship for study in France. His recent work Small Wonder: The Butterfly Effect was commissioned by the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players in 2012 as a world premiere.
Steve Reich has been called “America’s greatest living composer” (The Village VOICE), “…the most original musical thinker of our time” (The New Yorker), and “…among the great composers of the century” (New York Times). His music has been influential to composers and mainstream musicians all over the world. He is a leading pioneer of Minimalism, having in his youth broken away from the “establishment” that was serialism. His music is known for steady pulse, repetition, and a fascination with canons; it combines rigorous structures with propulsive rhythms and seductive instrumental color. It also embraces harmonies of non-Western and American vernacular music (especially jazz). His studies have included the Gamelan, African drumming (at the University of Ghana), and traditional forms of chanting the Hebrew scriptures.
Different Trains and Music for 18 Musicians have each earned him GRAMMY awards, and his “documentary video opera” works—The Cave and Three Tales, done in collaboration with video artist Beryl Korot—have pushed the boundaries of the operatic medium. Over the years his music has significantly grown both in expanded harmonies and instrumentation, resulting in a Pulitzer Prize for his 2007 composition, Double Sextet. Reich’s music has been performed by major orchestras and ensembles around the world, including the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics; London, San Francisco, Boston, and BBC symphony orchestras; London Sinfonietta; Kronos Quartet; Ensemble Modern; Ensemble Intercontemporain; Bang on a Can All-Stars; and eighth blackbird. Several noted choreographers have created dances to his music, such as Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Jirí Kylían, Jerome Robbins, Wayne McGregor, and Christopher Wheeldon.
“There’s just a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history and Steve Reich is one of them.”— The Guardian (London)
A native of Istanbul, Turgut Erçetin was born in December 15, 1983 and studied composition with Pieter Snapper at the Center for Advanced Music Studies (MIAM), İstanbul Technical University between 2007-2009. Since fall 2009, Erçetin has participated in the Graduate Program for Composition at Stanford University in California, working with Brian Ferneyhough as his advisor. He is exploring a further focus on computer music at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). He has participated in the summer program of Centre Acanthes in 2012, with workshops led by Phillipe Manoury, Luca Francesconi and Thierry De Mey. Renowned quartets such as Arditti Quartet and JACK Quartet have performed his music including String Quartet No.1 “December” for quartet and live electronics, which was nominated for the 2012 International Gaudeamus Prize. His music has been performed at festivals such as Manifeste (Paris), Gaudeamus (Utrecht) and MaerzMusik (Berlin).
A solo piano work, Drifting through the Echoes of Time was featured in the first album of new music pianist Seda Röder and mentioned in journals such as Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Forthcoming projects include a large ensemble piece for Talea Ensemble, Ensemble Elision and Neue Vocalsolisten of Stuttgart. A recent work, Deng, for Berlin based ensemble Adapter was premiered at Stanford and Berlin in Spring 2013.
*adapted from composer’s personal bio
Born in 1973, Kevin Ernste is a composer, performer, and teacher of composition and electronic music at Cornell University where he is Director of the Cornell Electroacoustic Music Center (CEMC). He did graduate work in Music Composition at the Eastman School of Music (MA, PhD). In 2005, he was the Acting Director and lecturer at the Eastman Computer Music Center and Co-director of the ImageMovementSound festival. He is a founding member of the Cornell Avant-Garde Ensemble (CAGE).
Ernste’s recent and prolific compositional output includes Nisi [nee-see] (“Island” in Greek) for hornist Adam Unsworth, soon to be released on Equilibrium Records; Numina for Brooklyn-based Janus Trio; Seiend for brass quintet premiered by Ensemble Paris Lodron in Salzburg; and Roses Don’t Need Perfume, for guitarist Kenneth Meyer. Other works include a piece for saxophone and electronics called To Be Neither Proud Nor Ashamed (recently released on Innova Records), and Birches, for viola with electronic sounds for John Graham performed on Mr. Graham’s recent China tour as well as at the Aspen Summer Music Festival. He recently collaborated with JACK Quartet on a Fromm commission Palimpsest.
*adapted from composer’s website
Natacha Diels was born in 1981 in Los Angeles, raised in Texas and New Mexico, and now lives in Brooklyn. She satisfies her fondness for electro-acoustic chamber music through Ensemble Pamplemousse, a group of uniquely talented, lovable, and creative composing and performing musicians whose primary goals are to shatter artistic borders and produce great music. She freelances in New York City playing flute, singing strangely, hitting rocks together and performs regularly with Ensemble Pamplemousse and On Structure. Her music has been presented around the US by the MATA Festival (NYC); Subtropics XXI and Twelve Nights (Miami FL); the Austin Museum of Digital Art; and the Bar Harbor Music Festival, among others. Her work has been supported by Meet the Composer, the Argosy Foundation, the O’Connor Foundation, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the American Music Center, NYSCA, the Ditson Fund, and Issue Project Room through an Emerging Artist Commission.
Diels also rounds out her creative career by teaching electronic and computer music to children and adults. She has taught workshops and given lectures in electronic and computer music at Columbia Teacher’s College, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Southern Wesleyan University, and other institutions. Natacha holds a BM in flute performance from NYU, a MFA from the ITP program at Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, and is currently pursuing a DMA in composition from Columbia University, where she also teaches MIDI.
*adapted from composer’s website
Although recently deceased in 2012 after a prolonged neurological illness, Jonathan Harvey is celebrated for an oeuvre wherein live electronics engenders a sophisticated discourse between modern experience and the timeless struggles of humanity.
Born in 1939 in Sutton Coldfield, England, Jonathan Harvey was influenced as a youth by Schoenberg, Messiaen, Bartok and Britten, and later by the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen and Milton Babbit, with whom he studied at Princeton, University. In 1975, he ascended to a professorship at Sussex University in 1977 where he would remain until 1993, thereafter serving part-time on the faculty of Sussex (1993-95) and then Stanford University (1995-2000). His arrival in California was punctuated by his series of 1995 Bloch Lectures at UC Berkeley entitled In Quest of Spirit: Explorations of the Spiritual Nature of Music and his academic career is capped by the 1999 publication of his book Music and Inspiration, which tracks commonalities of inspiration across cultures and musical traditions.
Since the early 1980s when he was personally invited by Boulez to the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) in Paris, Harvey has served as one of IRCAM’s early recruits and among its most regular fixtures and collaborators. At least eight of Harvey’s works were developed in collaboration with- and premiered at the institute including landmark works such as Mortuos plango for quadraphonic tape (1980), a stage work for soloists, actors, chorus and 22 players titled Wagner Dream (2006), and Speakings for orchestra and electronics (2008). Harvey’s influence at IRCAM cannot be understated, having contributed extensively to both its artistic and research endeavors; IRCAM has devoted its entire 2013 concert season to Harvey’s memory. Jonathan Harvey was awarded the 2007 Giga-Hertz Prize for a lifetime’s work in electronic music, the 2009 Prince Pierre of Monaco Prize in Composition for Speakings, the 2009 Charles Cros Grand Prix du Président for a lifetime’s work, the 2012 Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Large Scale composition for his 2007 choral/orchestral work Messages and the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award of the Incorporated Society of Musicians.
Inspired by natural processes, acoustic phenomena, and the abstraction of simple stories, Nathan Davis makes music that elucidates essential characters of instruments and the fragile athleticism of playing them, writing “music that deals deftly and poetically with timbre and sonority” (Steve Smith, New York Times). Amplification and live electronic processing are used organically with acoustic instruments to reveal and exaggerate subtle complexities of sound, forming an architectural sound-world through which the audience travels in experiencing a piece.
Performances of his music have been presented at NYC’s Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Miller Theatre, Merkin Hall, Symphony Space, The Kitchen, Roulette, Le Poisson Rougeand many other venues, by SFCMP here in the Bay Area, the Spoleto USA Festival, Santa Fe New Music by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra MusicNOW festival, and elsewhere. Internationally, Nathan’s work has bee featured at Helsinki Musica Nova, Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt, Audio Art Krakow, and other festivals in Holland, China, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, and Australia.
Recordings of Nathan’s music include a monograph longplay of his chamber works performed by ICE entitled The Bright and Hollow Sky (one of Time Out NY’s top 10 classical albums of 2011), and others. His music has also been broadcast on NPR’s All Things Considered, on WNYC’s New Sounds Live, KALW’s Then and Now, American Public Media’s The Story, on WKCR, and on Q2. A dedicated instructor, Nathan is on the faculty at Dartmouth College where he teaches lessons and directs the Contemporary Performance Lab. Nathan received his Masters in Music from Yale University, Bachelors degrees in both composition and percussion at Rice University, and was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to study at the Rotterdams Conservatorium in Holland.
*adapted from composer’s website
An Icelandic composer, Anna Thorvaldsdottir (born 1977) frequently works with large sonic structures that reveal a vast variety of sustained sound materials and reflect an imaginative listening to landscapes and nature. Thorvaldsdottir’s music tends to portray a flowing world of sounds with an enigmatic lyrical atmosphere. Her music has been featured at several major music festivals such as ISCM World Music Days, Nordic Music Days, Ultima Festival and Beijing Modern Music Festival, winning her numerous awards including Composition of the Year at the Icelandic Music Awards 2011 for a chamber orchestra work Hrim, as well as an International Music Prize for Excellence in Composition 2011 and Composer of the Year accolades at the 2012 Icelandic Music Award. Her debut album “Rhízōma” was also awarded Classical/Contemporary Album of the Year, and her 2012 work Dreaming earned the composer the 2012 Nordic Council Music Prize 2012.
The Iceland Symphony Orchestra has premiered and recorded four of Anna’s orchestra pieces, and the noted Icelandic CAPUT Ensemble has also premiered and recorded her works. Other ensemble collaborators include BIT20, Musiques Nouvelles, Either/Or Ensemble and ICE. Her most recent piece for orchestra, AERIALITY, was commissioned by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and premiered in November 2011, conducted by Ilan Volkov. Anna holds a Ph.D. degree from the University of California in San Diego, where she primarily worked with Rand Steiger and Lei Liang, as well as with Chinary Ung, Philippe Manoury, Roger Reynolds, and Steven Schick. When not engaged in music-related activities, Anna may be found doing yoga or walking in nature, seeking inspiration for music and life. Anna is married to philosopher and photographer Hrafn Ásgeirsson, Ph.D.
*adapted from composer’s website
Maria Stankova is a composer, vocalist, and scholar. She grew up in Sofia, Bulgaria and is currently based in the United States. Her works have been performed by International Contemporary Ensemble, Ensemble Pamplemousse, Ekmeles Vocal Ensemble, and On Structure. She has been programmed by such venues as Lincoln Center, Roulette, Issue Project Room, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Santa Cruz Festival for Contemporary Music, Festival Escrita na Paisagem, Biennial de Cerveira, among others. Her work has received support from ICElab, Meet the Composer, Andreas Waldurg-Wolfegg, and others. As a solo performer and performer with Ensemble Pamplemousse she has premiered works by Peter Ablinger, Lily Chen, Natacha Diels, George Lewis, Jessie Marino, Amadeus Regucera. As an improviser in the electronics duo Pygmy Jerboa she can be heard on the labels Abolipop, Mandorla, and Peira. Maria is a PhD student at NYU, where she is currently completing her dissertation on listening and voice.
Since the early 1960s pioneering composer Morton Subotnick has played a central role in illuminating new artistic territory at the intersection of music and emerging technology. Among the ﬁrst composers to combine live performers with real-time scripted sound processing, he has helped to redeﬁne the workﬂow of modern music composition and recording studio production. His ground-breaking work in the development of the analog synthesizer has impacted generations of composers and popular musicians alike.
An avid clarinetist and conductor, Subotnick attended the University of Denver amid military service from 1955-57. After graduating in 1958, he proceeded to graduate studies at Mills College, studying music composition with Darius Milhaud and Leon Kirchner. In 1962, with Ramon Sender, he co-founded the San Francisco Tape Music Center (SFTMC) where he would become instrumental in the creation of one of the ﬁrst commercially available modular voltage-controlled analog synthesizers — Donald Buchla’s Buchla 100. Subotnick contributed the driving vision underlying the design of the instrument, which was revolutionary in the possibilities and the ﬂexibility it afforded in the creation and manipulation of sound, inﬂuencing generations of synthesizers to follow.
The Buchla 100 would play a major role in the creation of Subotnick’s landmark Silver Apples of the Moon (1967-68). The work, commissioned by Nonesuch Records, brought Subotnick celebrity and marked the ﬁrst time an original large-scale composition had been created speciﬁcally for the disc medium — a conscious acknowledgment that the home stereo system constituted a present-day form of chamber music. It has become a modern classic and was recently entered into the National Register of Recorded Works at the Library of Congress. Only 300 recordings throughout the entire history of recorded music have been selected.
As part of the Sweet Thunder Festival, Subotnick will present From Silver Apples of the Moon to A Sky of Cloudless Sulphur IV: LUCY, an expanded version of his seminal works.
Subotnick became one of the ﬁrst faculty recruits to the newly created California Institute of Arts in 1969, serving as its ﬁrst associate dean of music, and subsequently, the head of its composition program. He would later found CalArts’ New Media Program, introducing interactive technology and multimedia to its curriculum.
Subotnick was an early pioneer of the electronic synthesizer developing techniques for controlling electronic effects and synthesizers in live performance through a clever system of recorded control voltages. Resulting works such as Liquid Strata for piano (1977), Parallel Lines for piccolo accompanied by nine players (1978), The Wild Beasts for trombone and piano (1978), Axolotl for solo cello (1984), The Last Dream of the Beast for solo voice (1979) and The Fluttering of Wings for string quartet (1984) all feature “ghost” scores which control a system of sound spatialization, pitch shifters and ampliﬁcation of the live performers via pre-recorded voltage signals on magnetic tape. Throughout the 1990s, Subotnick experimented with the CD-ROM format both as an educational and artistic performance medium. His interactive works All My Hummingbirds Have Alibis (1994) and Echoes from the Silent Call of Girona (1998) feature CD-ROM driven interactive content. Around the same time he produced his ﬁrst interactive works for children in CD-ROM format, later replicating these titles in web-based versions.
More recently, Subotnick has devoted considerable effort to developing music curriculum for young children including apps for the tablet market that allow young children to engage in “musical play” via a simple and intuitive “ﬁnger-painting” interface. In 2010 Subotnick received a commission to complete a larger-scale version of his 1985 chamber opera Jacob’s Room for premiere at the Bregenz Festival. A revised version of the opera for string orchestra, electronics and his wife, the singer Joan La Barbara, was produced at Juilliard in Fall 2013. After living in Santa Fe for many years, he now resides in New York City. He tours extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe as a lecturer and composer/performer.
Ken Ueno, is a composer, vocalist, improviser, and cross-disciplinary artist whose music coalesces diverse influences into a democratic sonic landscape. His palette of inspiration spans from Heavy Metal sub-tone singing to Tuvan throat singing, and from European avant-garde instrumental techniques to American experimentalism, and “sawari” (beautiful noise), an aesthetic in traditional Japanese music. His artistic mission is to champion sounds that have been overlooked or denied so that audiences reevaluate their musical potential. Frequent amplification of his music allows for the articulation of inherent qualities of sound — beatings, overtones, and artifacts of production noise.
His music has been widely performed by leading ensembles and performers in new music including Kim Kashkashian, Frances-Marie Uitti, Mayumi Miyata, Alarm Will Sound, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Nieuw Ensemble, the Del Sol String Quartet, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, the American Composers Orchestra, the New York New Music Ensemble, the Prism Saxophone Quartet, Relâche, the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, Dogs of Desire, the Orkest de Ereprijs, and So Percussion. Ken has seen his work performed at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MusikTriennale Köln Festival, Warsaw Autumn, the Muziekgebouw, Spoleto Festival USA, and many others. In 2012, he was a featured artist on Other Minds 17. As a vocalist specializing in extended techniques (overtones, throat-singing, multiphonics, extreme registers, circular singing), he has collaborated with a great many artists including Ikue Mori, Joan Jeanrenaud, Kevork Mourad, Matt Ingalls, Du Yun, and many others.
He also collaborates with visual artists, architects, and video artists to create unique cross-disciplinary art works. With the artist, Angela Bulloch, he has created several audio installations (driven with custom software), which provide audio input that affect the way her mechanical drawing machine sculptures draw. These works have been exhibited at Art Basel as well as at Angela’s solo exhibition at the Wolfsburg Castle. In collaborating with the architect, Patrick Tighe, Ken created a custom software-driven 8-channel sound installation that provided the sonic environment for Tighe’s robotically carved foam construction. Working with the landscape architect, Jose Parral, Ken has collaborated on videos, interactive video installations, and a multi-room intervention at the art space Rialto, in Rome, Italy. A winner of the 2006-2007 Rome Prize and the 2010-2011 Berlin Prize, Ken is currently an Associate Professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
*adapted from composer’s website
Violist Wendy Richman has performed across the U.S. and Europe, receiving praise for her “absorbing,” “fresh and idiomatic” interpretations with a “brawny vitality” (The New York Times, The Washington Post). Notable appearances include the international festivals of Edinburgh, Hong Kong, and Helsinki; the American Academy in Rome; the Phillips Collection; Miller Theatre; Jordan Hall; and the American Repertory Theatre. She has received particular praise for her interpretations of new music and has collaborated closely with a wide range of composers, including John Luther Adams, George Crumb, Brian Ferneyhough, Sofia Gubaidulina, Lee Hyla, David Lang, Alvin Lucier, Jeffrey Mumford, Matthias Pintscher, Bernard Rands, and Augusta Read Thomas. She performed the world premiere of Ken Ueno’s concerto Talus, as well as the American premieres of Luciano Berio’s Naturale, Kaija Saariaho’s Vent Nocturne, and Roberto Sierra’s Viola Concerto. A graduate of Oberlin Conservatory and New England Conservatory, Ms. Richman is now based in Ithaca, NY, where she performs and teaches privately at Cornell University. After serving as Assistant Principal Viola of the Portland Symphony Orchestra for four years, she was appointed to the viola section of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Richman is a founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE).
Rand Steiger (born 1957) is a composer, conductor, performer and researcher whose work has been deeply involved in computer music research. Many of his works combine orchestral instruments with real-time digital audio signal processing and spatialization. They also propose a hybrid approach to just and equal-tempered tuning, exploring the delicate perceptual cusp between harmony and timbre that occurs when tones are precisely tuned. Some examples of works deploying these techniques include: Ecosphere, developed during residencies at IRCAM and premiered by the Ensemble Intercontemporain at the Centre Pompidou in Paris; Résonateur, composed for the Ensemble Sospeso to commemorate the 80th birthday of Pierre Boulez; Traversing, written for cellist Mathew Barley and the Southbank Sinfonia; and Cryosphere, premiered by the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in New York.
As a conductor, Steiger has conducted, among others, the Arditti Quartet, Aspen Chamber Ensemble, La Jolla Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, New York New Music Ensemble, and the California EAR Unit, of which he was the founding artistic director. His recordings as conductor are operas by Hilda Paredes and Anthony Davis, and works by Abrams, Carter, Stockhausen, Subotnick, Xenakis and Wadada Leo Smith, among others. Steiger has conducted premieres by Babbitt, Boulez, Ferneyhough, Harvey, Nono, Reynolds, Rzewski, Saariaho, and Takemitsu, among many others. His compositions and performances are widely recorded ad include a 2013 release of his by the Talea Ensemble on New World records. After serving on the Faculty of California Institute of the Arts from 1982 through 1987, Steiger joined the Music Department at U.C. San Diego. In 2009 he was a Visiting Professor at Harvard University and is currently Composer-in-Residence at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology.
*adapted from composer’s website
Oakland musician Matt Ingalls is a composer, clarinetist, concert producer, and computer music programmer most active as a clarinetist in contemporary and experimental music, and a prominent figure in the San Francisco Bay Area Improv Scene. Ingalls has worked with a diverse range of composers such as Mark Applebaum, Anthony Braxton, Helmut Lachenmann, George Lewis, Meredith Monk, Pauline Oliveros, and many others including numerous Bay Area composers. His compositions have been recorded and performed in the United States and abroad, receiving many awards and recognitions. In 1995 he awarded the very first ASCAP/SEAMUS Student Commission Prize. Ingalls has also received New Langton Art’s “Bay Area Award”, two California Artist Honorary Fellowship Residency at the Djerassi Artist Program, two A.H. Miller prizes, and numerous Meet The Composer Fund/Creative Connections Grants.
Ingalls is the founder and co-director of sfSound, a new music series, ensemble, and internet radio station devoted to new ideas and traditions of experimental music, performance art, live electronic music, Bay Area composition, and the various facets of contemporary improvisation. sfSound produces an average of ten concerts a year, mostly taking place at the ODC Theater in As a computer programmer, Ingalls has worked for Bay Area computer music companies such as Cycling 74, Bias, Arboretum, and MuscleFish. He is also the developer of MacCsound a real-time Macintosh version of the classic music synthesis program, Csound. MacCsound won a 2004 “Editor’s Choice” Award from Electronic Musician Magazine. He is also the creator of the Soundflower Mac OS X utility for routing audio among multiple applications. From 2005-2009, Ingalls was the lead programmer for GVOX, primarily developing the Encore music notation program. Ingalls holds degrees in composition from The University of Texas at Austin and Mills College. He studied composition and computer music with George Lewis, Alvin Curran, Chris Brown, Russell Pinkston, Dan Welcher, and Karl Korte. Ingalls has taught music courses at The University of San Francisco and Dartmouth College.
*adapted from composer’s website
Alvarez is one of the best-known Mexican composers of his generation. Born in Mexico City in 1956, Alvarez studied clarinet and composition with Mario Lavista before moving to the United States in the early 80’s and subsequently to Great Britain, where he attended the Royal College of Music and the City University in London. His first electroacoustic works date from this time, such as Temazcal (1984) in which he unexpectedly pits a pair of maracas against a complex electroacoustic backdrop. Winner of a 1993 Prix Ars Electronica distinction, Mannam blends and juxtaposes elements of Korean music (kayagum, a kind of zither,) with materials and performance techniques drawn from the Mexican folk harp. Offrande (2001), a more recent work, offers an intriguing mix of Caribbean steel pans and electronically processed rhythmic patterns. His Papalotl (1987), for piano and electroacoustic sounds, makes reference to the wider world of dance through its use of complex rhythmic patterns in a carefully synchronized duet between pianist and electroacoustics. The resulting vibrant toccata won its composer the 1987 ICEM Prize in Paris as well as awards from the Bourges International Festival and Austria’s Prix Ars Electronica.
In 1993 Alvarez became a Fellow of the Mexican Endowment for the Arts and Culture. He has also received a Mendelssohn Scholarship, the Lionel Robbins Award and a Gemini Fellowship in England. He has held teaching positions at the University of Hertfordshire and the Malmö Music Academy in Sweden, having also taught composition and computer music technology at the City University, Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music in London. He was a founder member of Sonic Arts Network and, during the 1993 Season, he was Artistic Director of the Society for the Promotion of New Music. After 25 years living in England he returned to Mexico where he became the founding director of the Musical Arts Department of the Escuela Superior de Artes de Yucatán. After a period serving as Dean of the Conservatorio de las Rosas in Morelia, Michoacán, he is now living in Mérida, in Yucatan, combining activities as a freelance composer and project animateur. Alvarez’s music has been performed widely by Ensemble Intercontemporain, Lontano, the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Music Projects London, the Mexico City Philharmonic, and the Chicago Symphony New Music Ensemble, among others. He is currently working on several composition projects that include works for Instrumenta, the Orchestre Nationale de France, and clarinetist Luis Humberto Ramos and Cuarteto White.
*adapted from composer’s website
Roger Reynolds is known for exploring the interface between high technology and art in such projects as ILLUSION, commissioned for Esa-Pekka Salonen by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in cooperation with the Rockefeller and Koussevitzky Foundations; 22, a collaboration with dancer Bill T. Jones, and the Arts Media and Engineering program at ASU and several other works. Reynolds new intermedia project – george WASHINGTON premiered at the Kennedy Center by the National Symphony Orchestra in relation to the opening of the George Washington Presidential Library at Mount Vernon in October 2013. Real-time computer algorithms have played an increasingly strong role in recent works. Notably, his real-time, interactive computer landscape, The Image Machine, epitomizes a new and painterly direction in his work.
As an educator, Reynolds was part of the Music Department at UC San Diego for four decades, and is now the Director of an Arts Internship Program at the University of California’s Washington Center. In additional to many commissions, Reynolds has also been honored by the Pulitzer Prize in Music, an Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and visiting appointments at Yale, the University of Illinois, Brooklyn College of CCNY, Harvard, and Amherst. He is University Professor in the University of California system, and was the founding Director of the Center for Music Experiment and Related Research at UCSD in the early ’70s. He was the first Composer in Residence at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Sciences from 2008-10. Author of several books (most recently Form and Method: Composing Music [Routledge 2002]) and numerous journal articles, Reynolds has more than 90 published compositions (C.F. Peters Corporation, New York), as well as dozens of CD recordings.
*from composer’s website
Widely recognized as one of the most visionary composers of 20th century, Edgard Varèse provides in his music and philosophy an important bridge between pre- and post-World War II conceptions of modernity. Echoing the Italian Futurists, Varèse’s music incorporates sounds mimetic of the urban soundscape, incorporating allusions to traffic, trains, horns and sirens. Conceiving of music as ‘organized sound,’ he prophesized electronic music, becoming an early advocate and pioneer of the medium when the technology emerged to realize his vision. And while his total musical output comprises only about a dozen complete scores, he nonetheless remains a respected and highly influential figure for a surprising range of contemporaries spanning Debussy and Schoenberg to Stockhausen and Xenakis.
Born in Paris in 1883, Varèse entered his formal musical training in 1903 at the Paris Schola Cantorum over the objections of his parents. Leaving it in 1905 he enrolled at the Paris Conservatoire to study with Charles-Marie Widor and in 1907 moved to Berlin, in part, seeking out Ferruccio Busoni, whose essay Sketch of a New Aesthetic of Music of that same year had impressed Varèse with its vision of the future of music. During his time in Berlin, Varèse’s music found a friend in Richard Strauss who advocated on the Parisian’s behalf for the performance of his 1910 tone poem Bourgogne. During this period, Varèse visited Paris often, encountering the Futurists and becoming personally acquainted with Claude Debussy, Erik Satie and Jean Cocteau. He eventually moved back to Paris in 1913 and the following year conducted the premiere of Debussy’s Le martyre de St Sébastien. Subsequently struggling to find work amidst the economic doldrums of the First World War, in December 1915 he left for the United States.
With nearly all of his early works destroyed in a 1913 Berlin warehouse fire, Varèse arrived in New York City ready to stake out a new beginning. He quickly fell in with the bohemian intelligensia on the fringes of Duchamp’s Dadist group and by 1917 he was conducting again, forming in 1919 his own short-lived New Symphony Orchestra. It was around this time that Varèse penned his massive orchestral work Amériques (1921). Its title ‘symbolic of discoveries – new worlds on earth, in the sky, or in the minds of men,’ it opens with reminiscences of Debussy’s Prélude à l’Après-Midi d’un Faune and quotations of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps, but quickly diverges into dissonant portrayals of trains, car horns and police sirens, ending in wild, incessant repeatedly violent gestures — in all, fitting commentary on the urban American experience. In the same year (1921) he co-founded the International Composers’ Guild — a group devoted to the presentation of contemporary work of the Second Viennese School, as well as emerging American composers. This group served as a laboratory for his work through the mid-twenties and hosted the premieres of Offrandes (1922), Hyperprism (1923), Octandre (1924) and Intégrales (1925).
A lifelong advocate of using new sounds (Amériques’ sirens replaced in later versions by the newly invented Ondes Martenot) Varèse lobbied for the invention of new instruments, citing the potential that new mechanisms might offer in extending pitch range, timbral diversity, new dynamic extremes and an emancipation from equal tempered systems of tuning. He was an acquaintance of Léon Theremin and throughout the 1930s lobbied the Bell Telephone Co. and the Guggenheim Foundation to establish a centre for electric-instrument research. While these attempts failed, Varèse was left at an impasse that stifled his work over the next decade. Nevertheless, his interest in pursuing new sounds through technological means did not wane. In 1953, he received an Ampex tape recorder from an anonymous donor, finally accessing the means to explore this new sonic world. He spent the next year working at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center and collecting new sounds.
Varèse was invited in 1954 by Pierre Schaffer to the studios of Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française in Paris, where the sounds were assembled into the taped elements of Déserts for wind, percussion and electronic tape (1950-54). The work was premiered at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris in December 1954. In 1957 he would again be invited to Europe, this time to the Philips Laboratories in Eindhoven to create Poème Electronique—an ambitious seminal landmark electronic work for tape composed for projection over hundreds of loudspeakers in Le Courbosier’s Philips Pavilion at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. The piece features an elaborate blend of electronically generated sounds, pre-recorded noises, voices and machine sounds all subjected to various transformational processes made possible only by the unprecedented studio environment in which it was conceived. It stands as one of the earliest exemplars of electronic music and a testament to Varèse’s vision of ‘organized sound.’
Mario Davidovsky (b. 1934) is an Argentine-American composer widely recognized as one of the chief pioneers of American electroacoustic music. A student of Aaron Copland and Milton Babbitt and close friend and studio assistant to Edgard Varèse, Davidovsky has since the early 1960’s loomed as a central figure of electronic and computer music research, pioneering the integration of electronically generated sound with acoustic forces. His series of musical “synchronisms” explore the use of electronically generated sounds to expand the expressive palette for traditional instrumental performers. Of these works, Davidovsky says, “I try to keep, on the one hand, as much as possible of what is characteristic of the electronic instrument , and, on the other, what is characteristic of the live performer. At the same time, each extends the other.” For this innovative approach to composition Davidovsky’s Synchronisms No. 6 for piano and electronic sound was recognized with the 1971 Pulitzer Prize in music.
As electronic music became commercialized in the mid-1970’s Davidovsky’s interest in the medium began to wane and in the intervening decades he has focused his efforts primarily on purely acoustic composition, returning only occasionally to his Synchronisms series and a few isolated pieces with tape. Nonetheless, imprints of his electronic work continue to pervade his compositions. He observes, “Forty years later I’m still finding innumerable ideas that stem from what I learned in the studio.”
Since 1964 Davidovsky has served on the faculty of various institutions including the University of Michigan, the Manhattan School of Music, City College of New York, and Yale University. He served as the MacDowell Professor of Music at Columbia University from 1981-1993 where he was director of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. In 1994 he became the Fanny P. Mason Professor of Music at Harvard University.
Kaija Saariaho is a Finnish-born composer whose music since the early 1980s has been heavily influenced by advances in computer music research. Like the output of many of her French Spectralist contemporaries, Saariaho’s works explore the internal nature of sound as a point of departure for music composition. Closely associated with the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) in Paris, she has through her work pioneered new techniques and processes for creating hitherto unimagined sonic landscapes. Juxtaposing electronic and computer generated sonic elements with acoustic performance, her works investigate the intersection of modernist aesthetic sensibilities with the possibilities afforded by the computer age.
Born 1952 in Helsinki, Saariaho was exposed young to music at the art- and music-intensive Helsinki Rudolf Steiner School. After leaving studies in art at the Fine Arts School of Helsinki in 1976, she switched pursuits enrolling at the Sibelius Academy where she studied violin, piano and composition with Paayo Heininen. Attending lectures the Darmstadt Ferienkurse für Neue Musik in 1980, she followed Brian Ferneyhough and Hans Huber to Germany in 1981 for study at the Freiburg Musikhochschule. Next, attracted to the promise of the research center at IRCAM/Centre Pompidou, she moved to Paris in 1982, where she has remained in residence for most of the past 30 years. In that time Saariaho’s presence has loomed large at IRCAM, a collaborative space that has hosted her in her research into techniques for computer assisted composition, playing a significant role in the production of the electronic and studio elements of her works. Her early experiments at IRCAM such as Vers le blanc (1982), a tape piece composed of 3 simulated voices executing different 15 minute glissandos, focus on the slow evolution of sound and the rich diffractions of timbre over large timescales. This subtle unfolding of large-scale transformations would become a distinguishing feature of her music through the 1980s.
Saariaho’s Lichtbogen for chamber ensemble and electronics (1985-86) marks her first entry into the use of computational methods in the compositional process. Its harmonic material is drawn from computer analyses of the violoncello harmonics played with ever increasing bow pressure and its rhythmic elements derived from computer interpolations of musical patterns. The work relies heavily on ideas and methods developed during Saariaho’s time at IRCAM. Revolutionary in its sonic palette, blending live electronic effects with a virtual garden of acoustic timbres, when performed at the Darmstadt Ferienkurse in 1986 Lichtbogen won Saariaho that year’s Kranichsteiner Musikpreis in composition. Throughout the 1980s Saariaho continued working with small ensembles and electronics. An entirely radiophonic work Stilleben (‘Still Life’), based on themes of “travelling, distance and communication between people separated from one another or from their homeland” garnered Saariaho an award of Prix Italia competition in 1988.
By the early 1990s her work began to turn more towards purely acoustic music often for larger ensembles. While largely absent the electronic elements of her earlier works these works retain the fingerprints of her previous explorations of timbre, but do so animated with greater figuration. In her oft-performed violin concerto Graal Théâtre (1994) the orchestra replaces electronics in the dialectical interaction, the music blending a spectralist embrace of harmony with a folk-like virtuosity.
In addition to her continued work with large ensembles, in the last 13 years Saariaho has made her first contributions to the opera stage. Her L’amour de loin (2000), incorporating live electronics and staged by Peter Sellars was premiered at the Salzbourg Festival in 2000, winning the Grawemeyer Composition Award in 2003. Other recent awards include the 2008 Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition from Northwestern Univerisity, the 2009 Wihuri Sibelius Prize, the 2011 Léonie Sonning Music Prize and the 2008 recording of L’amour de loin won the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording.
© Jeremy Wagner, 2013
Ashley Fure (b. 1982) is an American composer and sound artist. She holds degrees in music composition from Harvard University (PhD), IRCAM (Cursus 1 and 2), Oberlin Conservatory (B.Mus), and the Interlochen Arts Academy. A 2013-14 Fulbright Fellow in France, Fure is presently in Paris producing an evening-length electroacoustic ballet commissioned by IRCAM for the 2014 Manifeste Festival. Prizes and recognition include an Impuls International Composition Prize, a Darmstadt Stipendienpreis, a Staubach Honorarium, a Jezek Prize, a 10-month residency at Akademie Schloss Solitude, an Adalbert W. Sprague Prize, two ISCM World Music Days nominations, a George Arthur Knight Prize, an SCI/ASCAP Young Composer’s Prize, an IAWM Pauline Oliveros Prize, and a Blodgett Composition Prize. In September 2014, Fure will join the Music Department at Columbia University as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow. She will join the faculty at Dartmouth College as an Assistant Professor of Sonic Arts in September 2015.
For nearly three decades San Francisco-based composer Pamela Z has graced the new music scene with her unique blend of vocal performance, live electronic manipulation and multimedia theatrics. A skilled and accomplished performer, Z leverages the power of her versatile voice with electronic looping and processing to accrete rich and evolving constructions poised between tightly composed composition and fluid sonic tapestry. Her works embody a free improvisatory spirit to explore the sound of language, find melody in elocution and fascinating shapes in the atomic elements of speech.
Raised in the Denver area, Z was classically trained as a vocalist at the University of Colorado, Boulder studying with Jon Paton. Working concurrently as a singer/songwriter in the nightclub scene, Z was inspired after seeing Jaco Pastorius’ use of a delay pedal in performance. Thereafter she began to imagine the implications the technology held for vocal performance and this launched an exploration of her compositional aesthetics and new ways of thinking about sound. After moving to San Francisco in 1984 Z pioneered techniques for live looping and manipulation of her voice integrating a full range of vocal practice with computer processing, MIDI controllers, delays and effects to create complex sound worlds woven with spoken word, operatic bel canto, Tuvan throat singing and extended, experimental vocal techniques.
A frequent collaborator with video artists, lighting designers and dancers her work often probes the intricacies of language and meaning, inviting the audience to explore the sounds of words displaced from their referent or to draw connections between sound, gesture and image in a multimedia, interdisciplinary setting. Her work Gaijin (2001), a response to her experience as an African American living in Japan during her 1998 residency, blends spoken and sung text with video, gesture-controlled synthesis and Butoh dance to form an evening-length multimedia commentary on the concept of “foreignness”. Carbon Song Cycle (2013) scored for voice & electronics, bassoon, viola, cello, percussion, and multi-channel video, includes texts, melodic motifs and images derived from scientific data concerning the carbon cycle, and stories related to environmental balance and imbalance.
In addition to her performance activity, Z has created sound art and installations, composed scores for dance, theater and film as well as commissions for leading chamber ensembles including New York’s Bang on a Can All-stars, Ethel String Quartet, Kronos Quartet, St Luke’s Chamber Orchestra, choreographer Brenda Way of ODC Dance, and experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer. Pamela is the recipient of numerous awards, including: the Guggenheim Fellowship, the CalArts Alpert Award in the Arts; the Creative Capital Fund; the MAP Fund, the ASCAP Music Award; an Ars Electronica honorable mention; and the NEA and Japan/US Friendship Commission Fellowship. Pamela Z’s new interactive web-based work Baggage Allowance was officially launched in summer of 2011 at www.baggageallowance.tv where it remains permanently available. For more information, about Pamela Z, please visit: www.pamelaz.com
red fish blue fish*
The New York Times calls red fish blue fish a “dynamic percussion ensemble from the University of California.” Founded fifteen years ago by Steven Schick, the San Diego-based ensemble performs, records, and premieres works from the last 85 years of western percussion’s rich history. The group works regularly with living composers from every continent. Recent projects include a world premiere of a Roger Reynolds’ Sanctuary and the American premiere of James Dillon’s epic Nine Rivers cycle with the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). In the Summer of 2011, red fish blue fish collaborated with George Crumb, Dawn Upshaw, and Peters Sellars to premiere the staged version of The Winds of Destiny. Eighth Blackbird invited red fish blue fish to join them in performances of works by American icons such as John Cage and Steve Reich at the Park Ave Armory in New York City. The New York Times called their “riveting” performance of John Cage the “highlight” of the program. Recordings of the percussion chamber music of Iannis Xenakis and Roger Reynolds on Mode Records have been praised by critics around the world. Recordings to be released in the 2013-14 season include the works of Karlheinz Stockhausen and rare works of Iannis Xenakis, recorded with the International Contemporary Ensemble. Red fish blue fish presented four concerts of percussion music alongside the Percussion Group Cincinnati at the John Cage Centennial Festival in Washington D.C.
In the history of twentieth century music there is no figure more influential, more controversial or more notorious than that of Karlheinz Stockhausen. For more than half a century Stockhausen’s pioneering work and thought placed him at the very forefront of the European avant garde and came to define the very notion of what it meant to be a modern musician laboring in the aftermath of post-war Europe. Stockhausen’s influence reached every corner of musical endeavor, always seeking to break new ground in pursuit of musical possibility. In addition to making important contributions to the development of serial methods of composition, he is widely credited with the production of the first purely electronic music; he pioneered brave new forms of musical notation, including those based solely in descriptive poetic texts; he championed “intuitive music” forming ensembles that would tour the world performing moment-driven “group compositions”; and as his reputation matured he conceived and staged musical projects of scale and scope more ambitious in their demands than any ever attempted. Stockhausen is revered both as a composer of intrepid new music and a fearless intellectual agitator, champion of modernist aesthetic.
Stockhausen’s upbringing is inextricably linked to the tumult of World War II Germany. Born in 1928 to parents of rural extraction, his father was a village schoolteacher and his mother an amateur vocalist and pianist. Suffering from serious depression after the birth of her third child, his mother was committed to a state mental hospital when Stockhausen was five years old. With the onset of war his father volunteered for army service and would be lost on the Hungarian front in 1945; his mother died in hospital in 1941, apparently a victim of a Nazi extermination campaign. Sent to the teachers’ training college in Xanten in 1942, Stockhausen would be drafted into military service in 1944 as a stretcher-bearer near the front lines in Bedburg. After the war, returning to live with family near Cologne, he worked as a farmhand while working to gain entrance to musical studies. In 1947 he was accepted to the State Academy of Music in Cologne as a pupil of Hans-Otto Schmidt-Neuhaus’ piano studio, later studying music education and receiving his teaching license in 1951. Throughout this time he was active as a musician, playing nearly every night in bars, accompanying dance classes and a local magician named Adrion, all the while working odd jobs in factories to support himself. Taking a late interest in music composition in 1950 he pursued studies with Swiss composer Frank Martin and in the following year he would attend the Ferienkurse at Darmstadt.
Over the next several years Darmstadt would prove pivotal for Stockhausen. It was at there that Stockhausen first encountered Karel Goeyvaerts, a student of Olivier Messiaen and Darius Milhaud at the Paris Conservatory. Enamored at his introduction to Messiaen’s Mode de valeurs et d’intensités from Quatre études de rythme Stockhausen was inspired to compose his first purely original work Kreutzspiel (1951), which would premiere at Darmstadt the following year. Fascinated by the sound world of Messiaen, Stockhausen was drawn to Paris in 1952 to attend the composer’s lectures on aesthetics over the following year. While there he met Boulez who introduced him to Pierre Schaffer and the concrète studios of radio France where he produced his first work for tape Konkrete Etude (1952). In 1953 he returned to Cologne to serve as assistant to Herbert Eimert, founder and director of the newly formed Studio for Electronic Music at Northwest German Radio (Stockhausen would become the studio’s director upon Eimert’s departure in 1962).
Having already made a name for himself with the premieres of Spiel (1952) and Punkte (1952) for orchestra, the chamber work Kontra-Punkte (1952) and the first of the Klavierstücke (1952), Stockhausen set to work in the Cologne studio using only pure sine tones to create perhaps the first examples of entirely electronic music, Studie I (1953) and Studie II (1954). Continuing his work in the studio, he produced one of the early masterpieces of electronic music, Gesang der Jünglinge (1955/6) which blends the voice of a boy soprano intoning the biblical tale of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego with an entirely electronically derived landscape. In 1958 he produced Kontakte for electronic sounds, piano, and percussion—a landmark work blending live performers with spatialized electronic taped elements.
Through the 1970s Stockhausen’s creative vision began to take on increasingly grandiose and dramatic forms characterized by inclusion of choreographed elements and astronomical/astrological references. YLEM (1972) combines Stockhausen’s “intuitive music” with a narrative of the birth/rebirth of the universe while Sirius (1975) comprises a science-fiction music drama. This creative trajectory led directly to Stockhausen embarking on his magnum opus LICHT (1977-2003), an enormous operatic cycle over 29 hours in length that would consume much of his efforts over the coming decades. The cycle is unprecedented in its logistical demands requiring the use of multiple ensembles, indoor and outdoor spaces, multimedia and, famously in the Helicopter Streichquartett, scene 3 of Mittwoch aus Licht (1993), a quartet of helicopters, each containing a playing member of a string quartet, performing a choreographed sequence in the airspace above the concert hall, the whole ensemble connected to the audience through live audio and video link. Yet despite these incredible technical demands the entire LICHT cycle has been premiered—Stockhausen’s influence and reputation held in such high regard he encountered little trouble assembling the needed resources—a fitting testimony to the power Stockhausen wielded as one of the leading visionaries in contemporary music.
Jaime Oliver is a peruvian computer music composer, performer, and scholar working at the intersections of musical instruments and open works. He obtained a PhD from UCSD and is currently Assistant Professor of composition at NYU. He has performed extensively in south and north america and europe. He has collaborations with several composers, improvisers and artists in a field of action that spans sound performance and installation, composing and performing music, and programming open source software. His Silent Drum and MANO controllers use computer vision techniques to continuously track and classify hand gestures.
Some recognitions include scholarships and grants from the Fulbright Commission, the University of California, Meet the Composer and the Ministry of Culture of Spain, and composition and research residencies at ZKM and IRCAM. He obtained the 1st prize in FILE PRIX LUX 2010, a GIGA-HERTZ-PREIS 2010 special prize from ZKM and the 1st prize in the 2009 Guthman Competition from the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology.
Among the most important composers of the European post-war avant-garde, the figure of Luigi Nono casts a long shadow in contemporary music for his tireless, confrontational and critical investigation of music as the locus of significant social and political discourse. Played against those of Stockhausen and Boulez, his artistic and polemical contributions to new music define one of the major aesthetic poles in European contemporary music.
An early and ardent critic of Cage, Nono famously and vociferously agitated against the philosophies of “chance” and “aleatory” music, instead championing a deep observance of rich historical artistic tradition with a rigorous engagement in the most radical developments of the present time—both in regard to music as well as the economic-political circumstances framing its context.
In this spirit, much of Nono’s work is colored by his deeply held political convictions. An active member of the Italian Communist Party, much of Nono’s music prior to the 1970s overtly references characteristic themes of political and/or social class struggle. These themes serve as a driving force behind Nono’s constant reinvention, requiring the composer to continually seek out new compositional strategies and emergent technological means to produce what he called a ”revolutionary, historical or social palingenesis.”
Luigi Nono was born into a family of artists, and from an early age his parents encouraged his interest in music. Enrolling at the Venice Conservatory in 1941, he studied composition with Gian Francesco Malipiero who, in addition to encouraging studies in early vocal music, introduced Nono to the composers of the Second Viennese School. It was during this time that Nono first encountered the young conductor Bruno Maderna, initiating an important lifelong artistic alliance. In 1948 Nono and Maderna enrolled in the conducting course of Hermann Scherchen who would prove a pivotal influence on Nono’s artistic, political and professional development. It was Scherchen who would premiere Nono’s Canonic Variations on the series of Schönberg’s op. 41 at the Darmstadt Ferienkurse in 1950. The composer would return to Darmstadt for the (then) yearly summer courses on serial music through the ensuing half decade and many of his important early works would be premiered at the Ferienkurse including Epitaphio per Federico García Lorca No. 1 (1951) and La victoire de Guernica (1954).
In 1955, Nono married Arnold Schoenberg’s daughter Nuria and by 1957, with nearly 20 international premieres already under his belt, Nono was invited onto the teaching faculty at Darmstadt. It was from this post that Nono would rise to prominence, engaging Boulez and Stockhausen and launching his famous indictment of serialism that he had come to somewhat derisively term music of the “Darmstadt School.” In his 1959 lecture Geschichte und Gegenwart in der Musik von Heute Nono railed against the denial of tradition that had formed as a post-war response to Nazi exploitation of art music and advocated for relaxing attitudes toward history alongside contemporary developments. The lecture was symptomatic of an important split between Nono and Stockhausen and precipitated a dispute between the two composers that would end their friendship for the next few decades.
Nono would continue his work in the electronic medium, often in combination with instrumental forces, through the mid-1970s, but following the composition of his 1975 opera Al gran sole carico d’amore he withdrew for a period of several years, composing only a few works during this time, while he reconsidered his artistic and intellectual project. He emerged from this period determined to “integrate the creative force as broadly as possible.” Beginning with Con Luigi Dallapiccola for percussion and electronics (1979) his work began to turn inward, concerning itself less overtly with the text-driven elements of his prior work. Through the last decade of his life Nono’s output adopted a more sensitive conception of sound, incorporating microtonal color and extremely soft dynamics to invite the listener into a world of “alienated interiority.” Yet even within these works Nono’s distinctive voice and characteristic penchant for experimentation and probing inquiry survives. Taken as a whole Nono’s thought and music have made a lasting contribution to the development of post-war modern music. He is remembered as one of the twentieth century’s leading artistic and intellectual voices.
George E. Lewis*
George E. Lewis is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University. The recipient of a 2002 MacArthur Fellowship, a 1999 Alpert Award in the Arts, a 2011 United States Artists Walker Fellowship, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lewis studied composition with Muhal Richard Abrams at the AACM School of Music, and trombone with Dean Hey. A member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971, Lewis’s work in electronic and computer music, computer-based multimedia installations, and notated and improvisative forms is documented on more than 140 recordings. His work has been presented by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Talea Ensemble, Dinosaur Annex, Ensemble Pamplemousse, Wet Ink, Ensemble Erik Satie, Eco Ensemble, and others, with commissions from American Composers Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Harvestworks, Ensemble Either/Or, Orkestra Futura, Turning Point Ensemble, 2010 Vancouver Cultural Olympiad, IRCAM, Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, and others. Lewis has served as Ernest Bloch Visiting Professor of Music, University of California, Berkeley; Jean Macduff Vaux Composer-in-Residence and Darius Milhaud Visiting Professor, Mills College; Paul Fromm Composer in Residence, American Academy in Rome; Resident Scholar, Center for Disciplinary Innovation, University of Chicago; and CAC Fitt Artist In Residence, Brown University. Lewis received the 2012 SEAMUS Award from the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States, and his book, A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music (University of Chicago Press, 2008) received the American Book Award and the American Musicological Society’s Music in American Culture Award. Lewis is the co-editor of the forthcoming two-volume Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies, and is composing Afterword, an opera commissioned by the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at the University of Chicago, to be premiered at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in Fall 2015.
Stacey Pelinka is a member of the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble and the Eco Ensemble. She plays principal flute with San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program productions and second flute with the Berkeley Symphony, the Santa Rosa Symphony, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, and the Midsummer Mozart Festival. A certified Feldenkrais Method® practitioner, Stacey teaches Feldenkrais at the San Francisco Symphony. She attended Cornell University and the San Francisco Conservatory, where she studied with Timothy Day.
Daniel Kennedy (percussion) is a specialist in the music of the twentieth century, and is a member of Earplay and the Empyrean Ensemble. He received his M.F.A. degree from the California Institute of the Arts and his D. M. A. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Mr. Kennedy, who has recorded widely, is both Instructor of Percussion and Artistic Director of the Festival of New American Music at California State University, Sacramento. He joined the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players in 1993.