2017 Guest Composers, Artists, Keynotes

Mary Jane Leach (2017 Keynote)

Mary Jane Leach is a composer/performer whose work reveals a fascination with the physicality of sound, its acoustic properties and how they interact with space. In many of her works Leach creates an other-worldly sound environment using difference, combination, and interference tones; these are tones not actually sounded by the performers, but acoustic phenomena arising from her deft manipulation of intonation and timbral qualities. The result is striking music which has a powerful effect on listeners.

Critics have commented on her ability to "offer a spiritual recharge without the banalities of the new mysticism" (Detroit Free Press), evoking "a visionary quest for inner peace" (Vice Versa Magazine), and "an irridescent lingering sense of suspended time." (Musicworks Magazine)

Leach is co-editor of Gay Guerrilla: Julius Eastman and His Music

Amy Cimini (2017 Keynote)

Amy Cimini is a violist and historical musicologist. She is currently Assistant Professor of Music at UC San Diego, following a Mellon Post-Doctoral Teaching Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania (2011-2013). Her research, teaching and performance practice engage genealogies of the body, with an interdisciplinary approach centered on connections between musicology and philosophy and focused on experimental practice in the U.S. after 1945. She has published work drawn from this research in GAMUT, Contemporary Music Review, boundary2, Sound Studies, and 20th-Century Music and currently chairs the Music & Philosophy Study Group of the American Musicological Society. A philosophically-oriented work of feminist musicology, her book project (working title, Listening in the Future Tense) extends critical genealogies of the "the body" that have oriented the field since the 1990s with a commitment to constituting frameworks for life. This first book-length study of U.S. experimental composer Maryanne Amacher (1937-2009,) Listening shifts the study of experimental music and sound art away from an aesthetic education that consolidates "sound" in and as a high modernist concern with sensory refinement, and toward conflicting notions of life that crisscross the scientific, juridical and political. Her research has been supported by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Hellman Fellows Program, and Faculty Career Development Program at UC San Diego.

As a violist, Cimini moves fluidly between improvisatory, contemporary classical, noise and rock idioms. Recently highlights include world premiere performances and recordings of Anthony Braxton's opera Trillium J (2015) as a member of the Tri-Centric Orchestra; concerts across the U.S.and Europe in support of the improvising duo Architeuthis Walks on Land third record, The Surveyors (Carrier 2015) and improvisations with turntablist Jace Clayton (aka DJ Rupture).

Randy Gibson (2017 Guest Artist)

Randy Gibson is a composer, installation artist, and performer based in Brooklyn, NY working with structure, naturalistic compositional models, and improvisation to create enveloping and ritualistic works in just intonation. Gibson’s work unfolds at a glacial pace and treats time as a defining factor in thematic development and as a tool for the precise tuning of pure intervals. His music has been described as “engag(ing) with rhythms and temporality existing outside of our socially-constructed rhythms, offering a glimpse of time outside of time” (I Care If You Listen), "luxuriantly unhurried, intensely focused" (Thought Catalog), “an hypnotic mass of slowly mutating sound” (Textura) “a booming, throbbing sine wave that filled the room” (New York Times), and “a gorgeously expansive dronescape” (Aquarius).  

Gibson has received commissions from choreographers Kim Olson/Sweetedge, Ekmeles Vocal Ensemble, Transit New Music Festival, Erik Carlson, R. Andrew Lee, The Tapeworm, and Cassauna. The 2010 London Premiere of The Third Analog Pillar..., hailed by Liminal's Scott McMillan as "a moment of relative calm, of stillness, and of pleasingly soporific and mind-emptying purity," was made possible by a grant from the American Music Center (now called New Music USA). Gibson was awarded a fellowship in Music and Sound from the New York Foundation for The Arts in 2016. His solo just intonation piano album, Aqua Madora V-ii-2008 21:07:26" - 21:54:40" (NYC), was selected by Textura as one of the top 10 albums of 2011. 

Gibson’s studies of rāga singing in the Kirana tradition with Khan Sahib La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela, and Jung Hee Choi, and extensive direct exposure to many of Young and Zazeela’s seminal works, have brought intense focus to the environments he creates. In late 2009, inspired by Young’s systemic and eternal approach to pitch and Vertical Hearing, Gibson began developing a set of tuning theories called The Four Pillars which has provided the harmonic, conceptual, and tonal language for all of his subsequent work including his recent works with pure projected light.

He has presented performances and installations at festivals around the world including the Avant Music Festival in New York City, the Spark Festival of Electronic Music and Art in Minnesota, The Transit New Music Festival in Belgium, The Internationale Tanzmesse NRW in Düsseldorf, The Boulder and Minnesota International Fringe Festivals, HOT DAM: the opening festival of the Denver Art Museum, the Sans Souci International Festival of Dance Cinema, the ISIM 3rd annual conference, the Erick Hawkins Legacy Forum in New York, the Korea Experimental Arts Festival in Seoul, and the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, Darmstadt.

Gibson was raised in Boulder, Colorado, traveling into the high mountains to look at the stars and the Milky Way and meditate on the expanses of life. This formative experience has instilled in his work a grand spaciousness and scale. In 2001, Gibson moved to New York City and since 2003, has studied music and composition with seminal Minimalist pioneer La Monte Young. 

In 2003 Gibson founded Avant Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to expansive collaborative artistic endeavors, and, since 2010, curated the Avant Music Festival, celebrating composers’ singular visions in dedicated concerts and installation experiences.

Russell Hartenberger (2017 Guest Artist)

Russell Hartenberger is Professor Emeritus and former Dean of the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. He has been a member of both the percussion group Nexus and Steve Reich and Musicians since 1971. As a member of Nexus, he has performed with leading orchestras in North America, Europe and Asia, and along with members of Nexus created the sound track for the Academy Award winning Full Length Documentary, The Man Who Skied Down Everest. The recently released Nexus CD, Persian Songs, includes his arrangements of music by Moondog and of Persian classical music with Iranian vocalist, Sepideh Raissadat. He has recorded all of Reich’s early music with percussion, including the Grammy Award winning Music for 18 Musicians. His compositions include The Invisible Proverb, Telisi Odyssey, Cadence, Raghavan, and Birth of Time. He is editor of The Cambridge Companion to Percussion and author of Performance Practice in the Music of Steve Reich, both published by Cambridge University Press.

Andy Lee (2017 Guest Artist)

My name is R. Andrew Lee, but you can call me Andy. I’m a pianist who plays a lot of new music, particularly of a minimalist bent, some of which I’ve recorded. I live in Denver, and I’m a proud to say I’m from Kansas City. I’m married and have two daughters and one son. I take my grilling and drinking seriously and have a penchant for interesting socks. What follows is the professional bio I am obliged to maintain.

Pianist R. Andrew Lee is one of the foremost interpreters of minimal music. He has been described as having “consistently impressive solo releases” (New York Times), and his CD, Eva-Maria Houben: Piano Music, was chosen by Alex Ross in The New Yorker as one of the Top 10 Classical Recordings of 2013. In his tenure with the Irritable Hedgehog label, he has recorded ten albums, including the premiere recording of Dennis Johnson’s 5-hour minimalist epic, November, which was selected by Time Out New York as the best classical recording of 2013. 

Lee has performed in a number of venues and festivals dedicated to experimental music around the world, including the Skaņu Mežs Festival (Riga, Latvia), Unsound Festival (Kraków, Poland), Café OTO (London), ISSUE Project Room (New York), Roulette (New York), Constellation (Chicago), and The Wild Beast (Los Angeles).

The intersection of minimal music and temporality is a primary research interest for Lee. As such, he has presented papers and lecture-recitals at several international conferences, including the Fourth International Conference on Minimalist Music (California State University, Long Beach) and Time's Excesses and Eccentricities in Music, Literature and Art (Université de Caen Basse-Normandie). His writing has been published by Divergence Press. 

Lee currently teaches at Regis University in Denver, Colorado, and was most recently Artist-in-Residence at Avila University. Lee received his DMA in Piano Performance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music, where he studied under the direction of Prof. John McIntyre.

Marc Mellits (2017 Composer-in-Residence)

Composer Marc Mellits is one of the leading American composers of his generation, enjoying hundreds of performances throughout the world every year, making him one of the most performed living composers in the United States.  From Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, to prestigious music festivals in Europe and the US, Mellits’ music is a constant mainstay on programs throughout the world.  His unique musical style is an eclectic combination of driving rhythms, soaring lyricism, and colorful orchestrations that all combine to communicate directly with the listener.  Mellits' music is often described as being visceral, making a deep connection with the audience.  “This was music as sensual as it was intelligent; I saw audience members swaying, nodding, making little motions with their hands” (New York Press).  He started composing very early, and was writing piano music long before he started formal piano lessons at age 6.  He went on to study at the Eastman School of Music, Yale School of Music, Cornell University, and Tanglewood.  Mellits often is a miniaturist, composing works that are comprised of short, contrasting movements or sections.  His music is eclectic, all-encompassing, colourful, and always has a sense of forward motion.

Mellits' music has been played by major ensembles across the globe and he has been commissioned by groups such as the Kronos Quartet, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (Holland), Duo Assad, Bang On A Can All-Stars, Eliot Fisk, Canadian Brass, Nexus Percussion, Debussy Quartet, Real Quiet, New Music Detroit, Four-In-Correspondence (National Symphony Orchestra), Musique En Roue Libre (France), Fiarì Ensemble (Italy), Percussions Claviers de Lyon (France), Third Coast Percussion, Talujon, the Society for New Music, Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, and the Albany Symphony's Dog's Of Desire.  Additionally, Mellits’ music has been performed, toured, and/or recorded by members of the Detroit Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Minneapolis Symhony, Brooklyn Philharmonic, eighth blackbird, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, New Millenium Ensemble, Da Capo Chamber Players, and the American Modern Ensemble, among many others.

On film, Mellits has composed numerous scores, including the PBS mini-series “Beyond The Light Switch” which won a 2012 Dupont-Columbia award, the most prestigious award in documentaries.  Mellits also directs and plays keyboards in his own unique ensemble, the Mellits Consort.  He was awarded the prestigious 2004 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Award.  On CD, there are over 50 recorded works of Mellits' music that can be found on Black Box, Endeavour Classics, Cantaloupe, CRI/Emergency Music, Santa Fe New Music, Innova, & Dacia Music.  Marc Mellits is an Assistant Proferssor of music at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He lives in Chicago with his wife and two daughters, and spends significant time in Romania.