A pioneer of American music, Pauline Oliveros has explored sound for four decades, forging new ground for herself and others. Through improvisation, electronic music, ritual, teaching, and meditation, the internationally acclaimed composer and performer has created a visionary body of work, profoundly affecting those who experience it—and eluding many who try to write about it. "On some level, music, sound consciousness, and religion are all one, and she would seem to be very close to that level," says music critic John Rockwell.
Oliveros has been honored worldwide with awards, grants, and concerts. Whether performing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in an underground cavern, or in the studios of West German Radio, her commitment to interaction with the moment is unchanged.
Through Deep Listening Pieces and Sonic Meditations, Oliveros introduced the concept of incorporating environmental sounds into musical performance, which requires focused concentration, skilled musicianship, and strong improvisational skills—the hallmarks of her form. In performance, she uses an accordion, which has been re-tuned in two different systems of her just intonation, in addition to electronics, to alter the sound of the accordion and explore the individual characteristics of each room.
Oliveros has been a leader and humanitarian in the music community, serving as the first director of the Center for Contemporary Music, formerly the Tape Music Center at Mills; the director of the Center for Music Experiment during a 14-year tenure as professor of music at UC San Diego; as well as an advisor for organizations like the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, and private foundations. She serves as the distinguished research professor of music at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Darius Milhaud Composer-in-Residence at Mills College.
Since the sixties, legendary “visual composer” Tony Martin has created seminal new media works whose dominant character and approach is visual experience, which, he says, must have a language of its own. This is based on his immersion in our legacy of art, and more specifically the ancient art of China, painting of the 1600s in Northern and Southern Europe, and the art of post–World War II America. A painter from the outset, Martin has devoted himself to using pure processes of light and simultaneous projected imagery in motion.
Early works were created in collaboration with new music composers Pauline Oliveros, Morton Subotnick, and David Tudor, and in cooperation with the San Francisco Tape Music Center, New York University’s Intermedia Department, and Experiments in Art and Technology. Exhibitions of his paintings at the Boreas and Batman Galleries coincided with Fillmore light shows and Tape Music Center events.
Martin’s groundbreaking solo exhibitions incorporated the psychology and aesthetics of the viewer as a direct and necessary part of the art “object.” In The Well, for example, viewers experienced and influenced light imagery inside and above the "light well." Such signature works point to Martin's career-long attention to the inner life of the individual within the complex dynamics of our interwoven lives. The electronic and optical configurations for these installations were created in his own studio, where he pioneered new methods with the help of a younger generation of engineers and scientists.
Works that championed viewer interaction began in 1962 with Martin's first multisensory environmental piece, Theater For Walkers, Talkers, Touchers, commissioned by the Anna Halprin Dance Company for the San Francisco Museum of Art. In this and current work, Martin distributes variable thematic content through switching systems and optics activated by the viewers. Principles of resonance and feedback are applied through photo and proximity electronics. In Martin's collaboration with David Tudor for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, all resonant information gathered from the dancers' movements, light events, and sound created an interdependent yet freely variable event.
Martin’s work has been exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris, Eyebeam in New York, and numerous universities and galleries across the United States and Europe.
For the past decade, he has employed available analog and digital hardware and software to produce interactive image making. He currently lives in New York.
With his 1964 revolutionary classic, In C, Terry Riley launched the minimalist movement. The seminal work pushed a new concept in musical form based on interlocking repetitive patterns. Impacting the course of 20th-century music, its influence has been heard in the works of prominent composers such as Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and John Adams and in the music of rock groups like The Who, The Soft Machine, Tangerine Dream, and Curved Air. Riley’s hypnotic, multilayered, polymetric, brightly orchestrated, and Eastern-flavored improvisations and compositions set the stage for the prevailing interest in a new tonality.
In 1970, the California composer became a disciple of Pandit Pran Nath, the revered North Indian raga vocalist, and made the first of numerous trips to India to study with the master. He appeared frequently in concert with him as tampura, table, and vocal accompanist over the next 26 years until the singer’s passing in 1996.
While teaching at Mills College in the 1970s, he met David Harrington, leader of the Kronos Quartet, which began a fruitful collaboration that has led to many productions, including more than a dozen string quartets; a quintet, Crows Rosary; a concerto for string quartet, The Sands; as well as Sun Rings, the NASA-commissioned piece for choir, visuals, and pre-recorded sounds from a spacecraft.
Jade Palace, his innovative first orchestral piece commissioned by Carnegie Hall for its 1990–91 centennial celebration, premiered under Leonard Slatkin and the Saint Louis Symphony. Other commissioners of his works include the Abel-Steinberg-Winant Trio, Werner Bärtschi, and the Amati Quartet.
In 2000, Riley toured Russia at the Sergei Kuryokin Festival, the Moscow Conservatory, and Dom, a Moscow club. Reviews in Russia proclaimed him to be the greatest composer since Prokofiev. At the Festival of Lille in 2003, he presented his Time Lag Accumulator, a nine-room mirrored structure with multi-time delays, which was modeled after the 1968 original.
Riley has scored several films, collaborated with the late artist and filmmaker Bruce Conner, and appeared in concerts with Indian sitarist Krishna Bhatt, saxophonist George Brooks, bassist Stefano Scodanibbio, and guitarist Gyan Riley. His album Cadenza on the Night Plain had been selected by both Time and Newsweek as one of the 10 best classical albums of the year, while the epic five-quartet cycle, Salome Dances for Peace, was Grammy nominated and selected as the number one classical album of its year by USA Today. London’s Sunday Times has named him one of the 1,000 makers of the 20th century.
Roscoe Mitchell’s innovation as a solo performer, role in the resurrection of long-neglected woodwind instruments of extreme register, and reassertion of the composer into what has traditionally been an improvisational form have placed him at the forefront of the international music community for more than four decades. A leader of avant-garde jazz and contemporary music, Mitchell is a founding member of the renowned Art Ensemble of Chicago, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), and Trio Space.
Beginning his distinguished career in Chicago in the sixties, Mitchell is the founder (or founding member) of numerous ensembles and collectives, including the Roscoe Mitchell Sextet, the Roscoe Mitchell Quartet, the Sound Ensemble, and the Note Factory. He is the recipient of many honors, such as Jazz Personality of the Year (Madison, Wisconsin), Madison Music Legend (Madison magazine), Honorary Citizen (Atlanta, Georgia), the Outstanding Service to Jazz Education Award (National Association of Jazz Educators) and an Image Award (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).
Highly prolific, Mitchell has recorded more than 85 albums and written more than 250 compositions. In 2003, he was selected as artist-in-residence for the Chicago Jazz Festival, and in 2004, he received a commission from the City of Munich to compose three compositions, which premiered at the Symposium on Improvised Music. In 2006, he premiered two compositions, White Tiger Disguise and Far Side, at the prestigious Merkin Concert Hall.
Mitchell has received numerous grants and awards from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, Arts Midwest Jazz Masters, Michigan State University, the Wisconsin Arts Board, and the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique in Paris. He has taught at the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, California Institute of the Arts, AACM School of Music, and the Creative Music Studio, while holding workshops and residencies worldwide.
In 2007, Mitchell was appointed to the Darius Milhaud Chair in Composition at Mills College.
Pianist Joseph Kubera has been a leading interpreter of contemporary music for the past three decades. He has been soloist at festivals such as the Warsaw Autumn, Prague Spring, and Berlin Inventionen of the DAAD. Michael Byron, Anthony Coleman, David First, Alvin Lucier, Roscoe Mitchell, and "Blue" Gene Tyranny, among others, have written works for him. A longtime John Cage advocate, Kubera has recorded the Music of Changes and Concert for Piano and Orchestra, and toured with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company at Cage's invitation. He has been awarded grants through the National Endowment for the Arts Solo Recitalist Program and the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts.
Kubera is a core member of S.E.M. Ensemble, the DownTown Ensemble, and Ostravská Banda, and he has performed with a wide range of New York ensembles and orchestras ranging from Steve Reich and Musicians to the Brooklyn Philharmonic. His duo-piano team with Sarah Cahill has commissioned works by luminaries such as Terry Riley and Ingram Marshall. Kubera's solo playing may be heard on the Wergo, Albany, New Albion, New World, Lovely Music, O.O. Discs, Mutable Music, Cold Blue, and Opus One labels.
Cellist and composer Joan Jeanrenaud grew up outside Memphis, Tennessee, where she began studying the cello at age 11 under Peter Spurbeck. Her commitment to music deepened at Indiana University, where she worked with Fritz Magg, and in Geneva, Switzerland, where she studied with Pierre Fournier. In 1978, Jeanrenaud became the cellist of the Kronos Quartet, a post she maintained for 20 years. For two decades, they worked with hundreds of composers and musicians, including John Cage, Frank Zappa, Morton Feldman, Philip Glass, Witold Lutoslawski, Joan Armatrading, Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros, Astor Piazzolla, Sofia Gubadulina, Foday Musa Suso, David Byrne, Terry Riley, and John Zorn. Jeanrenaud performed more than 2,000 concerts worldwide and made more than 30 recordings with the quartet, most of which were released on Nonesuch Records.
Upon leaving Kronos in 1999, she undertook projects in composition, improvisation, electronics, video, and multidisciplinary performance. She was the artist-in-residence for the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ 2000–01 season, where she created an evening-length solo work, Metamorphosis, and an installation piece, Ice Cello, inspired by the work of Fluxus artist Charlotte Moorman. She collaborated with dancers Eiko and Koma on Be With, which premiered at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, and in 2003, she performed her hour-long composition for In Between, a collaboration with visual artist Tom Bonauro and percussionist William Winant. The following year, Jeanrenaud was a featured composer at San Francisco’s Other Minds Festival, writing the cello and electronics piece Hommage for the event. In 2006, she composed and performed the score for Humansville, a performance installation for the Joe Goode Performance Group.
In addition to performing her own work, Jeanrenaud continues to play pieces written for her, including works by Terry Riley, Hamza El Din, Steven Mackey, Fred Frith, Anthony Davis, Alvin Curran, and Annie Gosfield. As an improviser, she has collaborated with Larry Ochs, Miya Masaoka, and Stephen Vitiello, among others. She was awarded residencies at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in 2007 and the Sally and Don Lucas Artists Programs at the Montalvo Arts Center in 2008. In the same year, she developed the installation work Aria with longtime collaborator Alessandro Moruzzi. Her latest CD, Strange Toys, was released by Talking House Records.