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E. Ron Horton

[Tony]

(b San Francisco, CA, March 17, 1953). American percussionist, composer, and scholar. He is a California-based artist and educator whose world travels and ethnic heritage have had a major influence on his musical career. His mother was a native of Tokyo, Japan, and his father was of African American and Choctaw decent. He grew up in a military family, moving between California, Germany, and Japan during his formative years. His career in music began in earnest after he returned to San Francisco in 1980. In 1985 he moved to New York and further developed his career while studying jazz performance at Rutgers University. He subsequently earned a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, studying ethnomusicology, a field that allowed him to focus on the musical styles that reflected his cultural heritage. He then began an extensive relationship with the Smithsonian Institute working as the curator of American musical culture, director of the Jazz Oral History program, and a performer in the Smithsonian Jazz Trio. In ...

Article

Brenda M. Romero

(b Tlaxiaco, Mexico, Sept 9, 1967). Mexican singer, composer, and anthropologist. She was already well known in Mexico when she emerged in the US mainstream with her performance in the film Frida (2002). Her father was Scottish American and her mother is Mixtec from Oaxaca, thus Downs grew up traveling back and forth between the United States and Mexico and between cultures. She began singing at the age of five and began formal classical voice studies at 14 at Bellas Artes in Oaxaca. She subsequently studied in Los Angeles and at the University of Minnesota, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, focusing on Oaxacan highland textiles. In addition to crediting African American music in general, and female singers and the music of jazz in particular, for showing her the many ways in which the voice can be used as an instrument to articulate a wide palette of expressiveness, she credits a range of musical influences, including the Grateful Dead, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Meredith Monk (especially her extended vocal techniques), Thelonious Monk, and John Coltrane. She has conducted most of her work in collaboration with her husband ...

Article

Sabine Feisst

(b San Diego, CA, May 22, 1953). American composer, media artist, performer, and bio-acoustic researcher. After taking violin and viola lessons with Mary Gerard, James Glazebrook, and Howard Hill and pursuing undergraduate studies in music at San Diego State University, Dunn earned the MFA in new media at the Danube University’s Transart Institute in Krems, Austria (2009). He also studied composition with David Ernst, kenneth Gaburo , Norman Lowrey, and Pauline Oliveros, and served as assistant to harry Partch (1970–74), in whose ensemble he performed for a decade. Engaging in both traditional and experimental compositional approaches, Dunn has conceived music for the concert stage, radio, and film, and explored sound art, including sound installations and soundscape recordings. Dunn has also dedicated himself to studies in acoustic ecology and bio-acoustic research. He has taught at the College of Santa Fe and San Diego State University, where he was director of the Electronic Music Studio. He has served as vice-president of the International Synergy Institute in Los Angeles (...

Article

Jay W. Junker

[Edward] (Leilani)

(b Honolulu, HI, Aug 4, 1927; d Honolulu, Jan 7, 2017). Hawaiian musician, bandleader, songwriter, and researcher. A leading figure in the late 20th-century revival of Hawaiian culture, Kamae has led the seminal Sons of Hawaii band for over 50 years. He reintroduced a large number of classic Hawaiian songs from earlier eras, composed several standards, and documented important Hawaiian topics on over 1000 hours of film.

He began his career in 1948 performing light classics and pop with Shoi Ikemi as The Ukulele Rascals. Self taught, Kamae developed chord voicings and plucking techniques that expanded the instrument’s reach. In 1959 Kamae met Gabby Pahinui and formed Sons of Hawaii. He radically transformed his style for the group, moving between rhythmic accompaniment and pa‘ani (soloing) in a fluid give and take. He also began singing in a distinctive voice full of Hawaiian vocal inflections. With mentoring from scholar Mary Kawena Pukui and others, Kamae began researching older Hawaiian repertoire and composing. His arrangement of waltzes, such as “Sanoe,” and other songs of the 19th century introduced a classical elegance into the group. At the same time The Sons performed downhome party favorites, like “‘Ama ‘Ama.”...

Article

Laura Otilia Vasiliu

(b Reuseni, Suceava county, Romania, May 2, 1944). Romanian composer, musicologist, and teacher . Rooted in the folklore of Bukovina and in Byzantine liturgical music, furthering the musical environment of his predecessors Ciprian Porumbescu and George Enescu, his works stand at the crossroads of tradition and modernity, having become established through their authentic expression and mastery of form. His personality has been influential in the musical life of Iaşi and the George Enescu University of Arts, which he served as a professor, dean, and rector.

He studied at the George Enescu Conservatory in Iaşi. He graduated in pedagogy and composition under Vasile Spătărelu. He attended composition classes led by Ştefan Niculescu, Aurel Stroe, and Anatol Vieru at the Vacanţele muzicale de la Piatra Neamt (‘Musical Holidays of Piatra Neamţ’, 1972–80), and then he studied with Roman Vlad at the Santa Cecilia Academy in Rome (1980). Up until ...

Article

William Kirk Bares

(Hopkins)

(b Sharon, CT, Nov 17, 1935; d Kerhonkson, NY, Dec 21, 2017). American trombonist, ethnomusicologist, and composer. A well-regarded jazz soloist, he is perhaps best known as a musical collaborator with ecumenical tastes. Strongly influenced by New Orleans jazz at a young age and seasoned by work in traditional jazz bands as a student at Yale, he transitioned easily to the collective free improvisation scenes of 1960s and 70s New York. Early partners included Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, Steve Lacy, Sheila Jordan, Enrico Rava, Carla Bley, John Tchicai, and Milford Graves; he worked with the last two in the New York Art Quartet. The open spirit of his early work is preserved on Archie Shepp’s Four for Trane (1964, Imp.), to which he contributed adventurous arrangements, and his own eclectic Blown Bone (1976, Phillips), which features several of the above artists.

Rudd’s subsequent collaborations extended his longtime interest in non-Western music. He carried out research for Alan Lomax’s cantometrics project (from the early 1980s) and taught ethnomusicology at Bard College (...

Article

James G. Roy Jr

revised by Carman Moore and J. Bradford Robinson

(Allan)

(b Cincinnati, June 23, 1923; d Boston, July 27, 2009). American jazz composer and theorist. He played the drums in local clubs while a student at Wilberforce University High School. During a long illness in 1945–6 he formulated the basis of his ‘Lydian concept’, a system of composition based on grading intervals by the distance of their pitches from a central note. After his recovery he wrote scores for Dizzy Gillespie, including Cubana Be/Cubana Bop (one of the earliest works to combine jazz and Latin influences), and for Buddy DeFranco (A Bird in Igor’s Yard) and Lee Konitz (Ezz-thetic and Odjenar); meanwhile he also studied composition with Stefan Wolpe. From 1950 he consolidated and refined his ideas on music theory, publishing them as The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization (1953, 2/1959), which was immediately received as the first major contribution by a jazz musician to the field of music theory. Works followed on an increasingly large scale, establishing Russell, along with Gil Evans, as a leading postwar jazz composer; he combined advanced jazz idioms with an unusually rigorous concern for structure, harmony, and the balance between composition and improvisation. In ...

Article

Laura Otilia Vasiliu

(b Sibiu, Romania, March 27, 1940). Romanian composer, professor, and musicologist of German ancestry. His works are inspired by the folklore and academic art of the Transylvanian Saxons, while also manifesting a moderate tendency to assimilate modern idioms. Published especially by German and Swiss houses, his compositions gained him international prestige within German-language circles. Additionally, he pursued his vocation as a researcher by analysing the works of J.S. Bach and of Transylvanian musicians, especially Gabriel Reilich and Paul Richter. He studied at the Conservatory of Cluj (1959–65) with Sigismund Toduţă (composition), Cornel Tăranu (harmony), and Vasile Herman (musical forms). He took the Ph.D. in musicology from the Music Academy of Cluj-Napoca (1978) with a thesis called Contradominanta în creaţia lui W.A. Mozart (‘The Counter-Dominant in the Works of W.A. Mozart’). As a professor in the harmony/composition department of the Cluj-Napoca Conservatory, Türk developed significant treatises and courses, including the book ...

Article

Geoffrey Block

(b Jersey City, NJ, Oct 23, 1945). American composer, lyricist and theorist. A composer since the age of six, he attended Yale University (1963–7), where he studied with the musicologist William G. Waite and the theorist Allen Forte, earned the PhD in theory in 1974, became a professor of theory for the next six years, and occasionally returned as a guest professor. As a theorist he produced a monograph on Schenkerian analysis and a provocative new theory on rhythmic stratification. The year before receiving the doctorate he conceived a musical based on Federico Fellini's autobiographical film and, after launching the project for Lehman Engel's BMI Music Theatre Workshop, continued to develop it over the next nine years. The result, coincidentally named Nine (1982), was an unusual musical with one male character (the great film director, Guido Contini (Fellini), as an adult and as a nine-year-old) and 21 women occupying the director's real and imagined worlds. In the popular and critically acclaimed staging by the director, Tommy Tune, ...

Article

Ian Mikyska

(b Brno, 13 March 1966). Czech composer, pedagogue, and writer on music, son of zdeněk zouhar. He studied composition at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (JAMU) in Brno (with Miloš Ištván and alois piňos) and musicology at the Masaryk University, followed by post-graduate studies at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst Graz (with Herman Markus Preßl and younghi pagh-paan) and JAMU. He remains an external pedagogue at both these institutions, as well as being active as a researcher at the Palacký University Olomouc (vice-dean starting in 2010), Ostrava University, and Masaryk University.

His brand of postmodernism is surprisingly respectful, using disparate materials in a serious manner, and generally staying with a few pieces of material for the duration of a piece or movement. Often composed in an additive, evolutionary structure, his works are sonically reminiscent of New York post-minimalism, but are very European in their approach to expressivity and emotional intensity. This approach includes both the intense rhythms of ...