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George J. Grella

[Robert ]

(b Albuquerque, NM, April 19, 1957). American composer, performer, instrument builder, and journalist. In high school he learned to play guitar, flute, violin, and percussion. In 1976 he enrolled at the Oberlin Conservatory, where he built a Serge modular synthesizer. He also formed the Fall Mountain ensemble with the reed player Ned Rothenberg and the violinist Jim Katzin. After leaving Oberlin in 1979 without a degree, he toured with Anthony Braxton’s Creative Music Orchestra then settled in New York. There he began playing with John Zorn, Eugene Chadbourne, Wayne Horvitz, and Fred Frith and embarked on an idiosyncratic and individualistic career.

Ostertag’s work is holistic; he has developed his compositions inseparably from the instruments he has designed, the musicians with whom he has collaborated and improvised, and the explicit and passionate political opinions he has sought to express. In 1980 he released his first solo album, Getting a Head...