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Roger Reynolds


Roger_Reynolds_a.jpgPhone: 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 in the SHARESPACE Series, for individual instruments and computer-musician (managing real time algorithmic transformations in performance): Dream Mirror (guitarist Pablo Gómez Cano), MARKed MUSIC (bassist Mark Dresser), Toward Another World: LAMENT (clarinetist Anthony Burr), and Shifting/Drifting (violinist Irvine Arditti) and ACTIONS (pianist Eric Huebner). 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, the second at the Museum of American History in Washington, and the third at UC Berkeley in February 2021.


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 (at UC San Diego as well as visiting appointments at Yale, Harvard, CUNY, Amherst) have prompted numerous residencies at international festivals, including: Darmstadt, June in Buffalo, Music Today (Tokyo), SICPP (Boston), Agora (Ircam), Warsaw Autumn, Why Note? (Dijon), numerous ISCM festivals, and the Venice and Helsinki biennales. 


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 reads 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. The Edition Peters Group published an art book re-creation of the PASSAGE experience in 2018. Its book form, PASSAGE (2017), joins Reynolds’s 1975 Mind Models (revised 2004), A Jostled Silence (Contemporary Japanese Writing on Music) (1992-93), Form and Method (2002), and the forthcoming The Reynolds Desert House: Xenakis Creates in Architecture & Music (2020).


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. In addition to his books, Reynolds's writing has appeared widely in Asian, American and European journals. His music, recorded on Auvidis/Montaigne, Mode, New World, Kairos, 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."