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date: 19 November 2019

Pisaro, Michael locked

  • Marc Medwin


(b Buffalo, NY, Nov 4, 1961). American composer, educator, and guitarist. He studied composition at DePaul University (BM 1983) and at Northwestern University (MA 1985, DMA 1988). His primary teachers were george Flynn , ben Johnston , and alan b. Stout . From 1986 to 2000 he taught composition and theory at Northwestern University, then moved in 2000 to California Institute of the Arts, where he has also co-chaired the composition department. His music has been performed frequently in the United States, Europe, and Japan. His pieces have been selected twice by the ISCM jury for performance at World Music Days festivals (Copenhagen, 1996; Manchester, 1998), and his music has been heard at festivals in Vienna (Wien Modern, 1997), London (Cutting Edge, 2007), Huddersfield (2009), Glasgow (INSTAL 2009), Berlin (Maerzmusik, 2010), New York (Amplify: stones, 2011), and elsewhere.

Pisaro’s overarching compositional interests include the exploration of minute sonic and timbral details, silence, and the way in which these elements relate over time. In his formative years, the distorted organ and guitars of progressive rock proved catalytic, as did the innovative musical structures, timbres, and orchestrations of Eric Dolphy, Booker Little, John Cage, and Alvin Lucier. These diverse influences led Pisaro to an interest in the relationships between timbre and harmony that would become a determining factor in his compositional aesthetic. Beginning in the early 1990s exposure to works emanating from the Berlin-based Wandelweiser collective cemented his compositional and philosophical trajectory. The composers associated with Wandelweiser—including Antoine Beuger, Jürg Frey, and Radu Malfatti—frequently draw on works by American experimental composers, beginning with Charles Ives, as points of departure for their unconventionally scored compositions, often containing verbal instructions. In ...

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