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Claire Levy

(b Plovdiv, 19 Dec 1937). Bulgarian composer, pianist, conductor, arranger, and bandleader. He was internationally acknowledged for his innovative ideas, cross-cultural experiments, and contribution to the concept of fusion and free improvisation. Classically trained at the Bulgarian State Conservatory (1955–60) under Pancho Vladigerov (composition) and Andrey Stoyanov (piano), he is the author of numerous compositions in styles and genres including jazz, pop, symphony, chamber, film, and theatrical music. He conducted the Radio and Television Big Band in Sofia (1962–6) and led his own avant-garde quartet, Jazz Focus’65 (1965–8), which won the Critic’s Prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1967. In 1970 he left Bulgaria for political reasons and moved to the USA where he joined the Don Ellis Orchestra (1971–8), and later collaborated with the classical/jazz quartet Free Flight. He also played with outstanding jazz musicians including Art Pepper, Billy Cobham, and Dave Holland, among many others....

Article

Concert venue and gallery, focusing at first on visual art, but soon becoming one of the key locations in the Czech Republic for contemporary and improvised music, sound art, and intermedia work.

Housed in the courtyard of an 1888 neo-Renaissance building in the centre of Prague, the former galvanizing workshop was reconstructed in 1999 by the Linhart Foundation and opened to the public in 2000.

The gallery has offered a regular programme of two monthly concerts, always featuring a local act opening for a foreign guest. Performers have included Thomas Lehn, Franz Hautzinger, Dieb13, and Jim Denley, as well as most musicians on the Czech improvised music scene, and many composer-performers, including Peter Graham, Lucie Vítková, and Miro Tóth[1]. Artists working with sound at the gallery in an installation context have included Jacob Kirkegaard, Phill Niblock, Peter Cusack, and John Grzinich.

Apart from regular exhibitions and concerts, the gallery has also organized long-term residencies for artists, artistic workshops, and discussions. Since ...

Article

Ian Mikyska

(b Bratislava, 16 Oct 1981). Slovak composer, saxophonist, and improviser. Studied composition at the University of Performing arts in Bratislava (VŠMU) (with Jevgenij Iršai and Vladimír Godár) and at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (with Michal Rataj), as well as musicology at the Comenius University in Bratislava.

He is unusual in the Czecho-Slovak context for the breadth of his musical and cultural interests – eclecticism and a Schnittkean polystylism are the only unifying elements of his work, perhaps together with relentless demands on the listener’s emotions (in one direction or another). His earlier works betray the influence of Schnittke in their rapid changes and distressed emotiveness interspersed with moments of (ironic?) grandeur, while at other times, his use of explosive improvisation and a range of stylistic contexts brings John Zorn to mind.

He has a close relationship with theatre, both in his operas and video-operas – often made in collaboration with the actor, director, and librettist Marek Kundlák – and in his instrumental music, which doesn’t shy away from theatricality and make-believe. He often treats musics as cultural phenomena, mindful of their history and current position, unafraid to appropriate and explore what he calls the emptied-out or sketched-out worlds that remain in music after the 20th century....

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Interactive computer network used as an extended musical instrument, played by a San Franciso Bay–area experimental computer network band also called The Hub. The band, founded in 1985 by Tim Perkis and John Bischoff, evolved from the League of Automatic Music Composers (1978–83). The concept of The Hub is to create live music resulting from the unpredictable behaviour of the interconnected computer system. The composer/performers consider their performances a type of ‘enhanced improvisation’.

Initially The Hub provided a custom-built central ‘mailbox’ computer and made use of a MIDI network providing communication between the composer/performers’ synthesizers. With the maturation of commercial MIDI equipment, the band shifted to using the Opcode Studio V multiport MIDI interface for their hub. Since MIDI is designed to allow one player or computer to control a group of synthesizers but not to allow a network of synthesizers to interact, band member Scot Gresham-Lancaster devised a way to program the system so the Opcode Studio V could route messages among all the synthesizers in the network....

Article

Mem1  

Mandy-Suzanne Wong

Experimental electronic performance ensemble. Formed in 2003 by Laura and Mark Cetilia, a wife-and-husband team, Mem1 creates original music for cello and electronics, as well as video and installation art. Based in Los Angeles, California, and Providence, Rhode Island, Mem1 owns and operates Estuary Ltd., a record label dedicated to experimental music and sound art, and organizes CTRL+ALT+REPEAT, a performance series for new music programmed annually in Los Angeles. The duo has performed throughout the United States, Europe, and the Middle East, and has collaborated with Steve Roden and the Penderecki String Quartet, among many others. In addition to several albums dedicated to the duo’s original music—including Alexipharmaca (2006), Stationary Drift (2009), and Tetra (2010)—Mem1 has released an album of collaborative works, titled +1 (2009), and an album-length collaboration with Stephen Vitiello, Age of Insects (2011).

A Mem1 piece is typically an improvised, collaborative birthing and nurturing of a singular yet texturally complex sound. Spontaneously but carefully and gradually, the sound may begin as the breathing of the cello, played by Laura. In the opening of “Somniferum” (...

Article

Ryan Dohoney

(b Paris, France, Oct 20, 1950). American composer, keyboardist, electronic musician, and improviser of French birth; naturalized American; daughter of jazz pianist and drummer Errol Parker. She began studying piano and harmony at age 7 and composing at 12. Lauten received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Institut d’Études Politiques in 1971. The following year she relocated to New York City, where she participated in the burgeoning punk rock scene. Through guitarist Denise Feliu, Lauten met the poet Allen Ginsberg, who would have a significant impact upon her spiritual and musical life.

Lauten’s compositional and improvisational practice is exemplary of the musical aesthetics of downtown New York in the 1970s and 80s. A practitioner of both US popular music and European classical music, Lauten blended the two styles with minimalist experimentalism. Lauten’s studies in New York City brought her into contact with the varied denizens of downtown musical life. She studied Indian raga with ...

Article

Stephen Montague

revised by Kelly Hiser

(Arthur )

(b Kankakee, IL, March 22, 1942; d San Rafael, CA, Sept 25, 1996). American composer, trombonist, conductor, and double bassist. He attended the University of Illinois, where he studied trombone with Robert Gray and composition with Kenneth Gaburo, herbert Brün , and salvatore Martirano (BM in performance 1965). He studied jazz improvisation with lee Konitz and electronic music with richard b. Hervig at the University of Iowa (1970–71). He was a member of the Harry Partch Ensemble (1961–2) and the Illinois Contemporary Chamber Players (1963–6) and was an associate artist at the University of Iowa Center for New Music and New Performing Arts (1969–74). From 1974 to 1984 English lived in Europe, where he performed widely as a soloist and with jazz and new music ensembles, at festivals, and on radio. He collaborated with his wife Candace Natvig, a singer and violinist; in ...

Article

Milena Bozhikova

(b Vidin, Bulgaria, Sept 12, 1951). Bulgarian composer, conductor, and piano improviser. He was educated at the High School of Music in Sofia (percussion class under Dobri Paliev, 1965–71), and at the State Musical Academy in Sofia (1973–9), majoring in composition under Tsvetan Tsvetanov and Parashkev Hadzhiev, and orchestral conducting under Konstantin Iliev. He made his name as an active jazz pianist and composer, forming his own jazz trio and participating in several international festivals (in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Cuba, Romania, Germany, Portugal, and Yugoslavia). While a student he won the position of conductor at the State Musical Theatre (1977–86), bringing to the stage a number of classical operettas and contemporary musicals. His background also includes courses in conducting under Franco Ferrara (1980, Siena, Italy) and Edward Dawns (1981, Hilversum, Holland), and in composition with Anatol Vieru (...

Article

Jessica Bissett Perea

(b New York, NY, Jan 29, 1939; d Tijuana, Mexico, Oct 25, 2000). American jazz singer, lyricist, composer–improviser, multidisciplinary artist, and educator. During her 40-year career she performed internationally and recorded more than 40 albums, working with such artists as Carla Bley, Anthony Braxton, Marion Brown, Enrico Rava, Andrew Cyrille, Roland Kirk, Jimmy Lyons, Archie Shepp, Sunny Murray, Cecil Taylor, and Reggie Workman. Her vocal style reflects the influence of early mainstream jazz vocalists, including Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington, and the intellectualism of postwar avant-garde jazz and experimental music. Starting in the 1960s Lee forged a new path in multidisciplinary performance that fused the aesthetics of modern dance, vocal improvisation and sound poetry (intonation, non-verbal utterances, and vocalizations), and visual arts (paintings, slide projections, and film). In the 1970s she established Earthforms Rituals, a nonprofit corporation that promoted concerts and educational programs. She also completed an MA in education at New York University in ...

Article

(b Sofia, Bulgaria, Sept 22, 1960). Bulgarian pianist and jazz improviser. He graduated in piano from the Lyubomir Pipkov High School of Music in Sofia under Milena Kurteva (1975–9), and the Pantcho Vladigerov National Academy of Music under Yulia and Konstantin Ganevi (1979–84). At the age of 15 he won top prizes at international competitions in the Czech Republic and Italy. As a student he won second prize at the International Senigallia Competition (1979); third in the XXXIII International Busoni Competition (1981); and third prize and silver medal at the Queen Elizabeth Competition in Brussels (1983). He won the first prize and grand prize in the Svetoslav Obretenov National Competition (1982). In 1986 and 1987 he received a Fulbright Grant to study with Leon Fleisher at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore.

From 1988 until 1991 he taught piano at the Pantcho Vladigerov National Academy of Music, Sofia, and, since ...