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Roger Reynolds


Roger ReynoldsPhone: 858 534-3230
Off: CPMC 351

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Reynolds’s compositions incorporate theater, text, digital signal processing, dance, video, collaboration, and real-time computer spatialization, in a signature multidimensionality of engagement. The central thread woven through his uniquely varied career entwines language with the spatial aspects of music. This center first emerged in his notorious music-theater work, The Emperor of Ice Cream (1961-62; 8 singers, 3 instrumentalists, text: Wallace Stevens, and is carried forward in the VOICESPACE series (quadraphonic electroacoustic compositions on texts by Coleridge, Borges, etc.), a collaborative song cycle with John Ashbery, last things, I think, to think about; and Here and There (2018) for speaking percussionist on a Beckett text.

Collaboration has played an increasing role in Reynolds’s work in recent years, especially a series of duos for individual instruments and computer-musician (managing real time algorithmic transformations in performance): MARKed MUSIC (bassist Mark Dresser), Toward Another World: LAMENT (clarinetist Anthony Burr), and Shifting/Drifting (violinist Irvine Arditti). His two most recent multimedia works are: george WASHINGTON (for the National Symphony Orchestra and the Kennedy Center) and FLiGHT (commissioned by JACK quartet).

Reynolds’s interest in larger social issues gave rise (2016) to the “Bridging Chasms” initiative, involving a diverse group of selected Participants from various disciplines (academic and otherwise) searching for “tools and strategies” that could improve communication across disciplinary specialization. The first BC Event took place at UC San Diego, and subsequent Events are scheduled for the Museum of American History in Washington, and UC Berkeley.

In addition to his composing, Reynolds's writing, lecturing, organization of events including CROSS TALK TOKYO, XENAKIS@UCSD, and the John Cage Centennial Festival Washington, DC, and teaching (UCSD, Yale, Harvard, Amherst) have prompted numerous residencies at international festivals: Darmstadt, June in Buffalo, SICPP, Ircam, Venice Biennale.

Feeling increasing discomfort with the idea of lectures meant to persuade (sermon-like), Reynolds began, in 2009, to do public presentations in a different modality – involving a mosaic of prepared texts images, video, and live musical performances. He performs  some texts live (They are computer-spatialized.) while other pre-recorded and spatialized texts are played back simultaneously, along with imagery, in a choreography of ideas, memories, visions, and implications. Unique PASSAGE events have already occurred in San Diego, Los Angeles, Ann Arbor, Buffalo, Washington, Darmstadt, and Cambridge. And Edition Peters Group published an art book recreation of the PASSAGE experience in 2018.

In 1988, perplexed by a John Ashbery poem, Reynolds responded with Whispers Out of Time, a string orchestra work that earned him the Pulitzer Prize in Music. Critic Kyle Gann notes that he was the first experimentalist to be so honored since Charles Ives. Reynolds's writing, beginning with the influential book, Mind Models (1975), has appeared widely in Asian, American and European journals, while his music, recorded on Auvidis/Montaigne, Mode, New World, and Neuma, among others, is published exclusively by Edition Peters Group (Leipzig - London - New York). The Library of Congress established the Roger Reynolds Special Collection. His materials are also in the Paul Sacher Foundation (Basel). Writing in The New Yorker, Andrew Porter called him "at once an explorer and a visionary composer, whose works can lead listeners to follow him into new regions of emotion and meaning."