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Paul Dresher: Intense Beauty, Visceral Energy, and Sonic Curiosity

Paul Dresher

Paul Dresher has done work in at least three distinct musical streams with equal vigor and equally significant results. But whether he’s creating a fully notated piece of post-minimalist chamber music, a poly-stylistic score for an intense musical theater work, or an idiosyncratic experiment for one-of-a kind instruments of his own design, he’s always operating with the same basic assumptions about his audience.

Laurie Spiegel: Grassroots Technologist

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Electronic music pioneer Laurie Spiegel sees a lot of common ground between the seemingly oppositional aesthetics of folk traditions and the digital realm. But whether she’s creating a computer-realized algorithmic composition, crafting a short piano piece or orchestral score, or jamming on a guitar or a banjo, the most important element in all of her music making is emotional engagement.

Paola Prestini: Following Her Vision

Paola Prestini

Paola Prestini combines wild imagination and controlled practicality on an almost molecular level—it’s as if both are fused together in her DNA. Whether she’s talking about her own multimedia operas or VisionIntoArt, the interdisciplinary arts production company she co-founded 15 years ago, she tends to think big but she always manages to make it happen.

“Which of these Aaron Jay Kernises am I?”

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An orchestra sensation at age 23. Published by 30. Then a Pulitzer Prize and a Grawemeyer. Now a biography. What’s left after someone writes up the story of your life? Aaron Jay Kernis just keeps on going, continuing to balance composing, teaching, and raising a family.

Jim Staley and His Home for New Music: Roulette @ 35

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Tons of people have devoted their whole life to new music, but few people have done so to the same extent as composer/trombonist Jim Staley, who for more than a quarter of a century devoted his home to it as well. But 35 years on, Roulette has moved boroughs and has gone from being new music in someone’s home to a home for new music.

Pablo Ziegler: Making the Music Dance

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Pablo Ziegler, who has been the de facto source for the interpretation of Piazzolla’s music for over twenty years, is an important composer of nuevo tango in his own right. Now based in Brooklyn (though he’s constantly traveling to perform all over the planet), Ziegler has a particularly strong affinity for improvisation and loves to mix tango and jazz.

Miya Masaoka: Social and Sonic Relationships

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Whether she’s using a koto as an expressive vehicle for anything from jazz standards to electronic experimentation, writing idiosyncratic music for chorus and now orchestra, or creating music with plants and even insects crawling over her body, Miya Masaoka has been making us look and listen to the world around us in totally new ways for decades.

Dave Malloy: Singing for His Soul (Not His Supper)

Dave Malloy

Composer Dave Malloy took NYC musical theater by storm with his Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, but his path to Off-Broadway success began in San Francisco’s experimental theater community—and he’s holding on tightly to that non-traditional approach.

Juan Orrego-Salas: I’ve Written All I Have to Write

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Juan Orrego-Salas (b. 1919) is the last surviving member of a major group of mid-20th century American composers. He was a protégé of Aaron Copland, Randall Thompson, and Luigi Dallapiccola, and a personal friend of Irving Fine, Lukas Foss, and Pablo Neruda, among others. He also founded the Latin American Music Center. His is an important story in the annals of American music.

Marc Neikrug: An Outlet for Emotional Experience

Marc Neikrug

Part of why Marc Neikrug’s compositions have attracted the attention of so many high-profile soloists is that for many years he was a member of that exclusive club himself—a concert pianist who performed standard repertoire with Pinchas Zukerman in most of the world’s major concert halls. Yet for that reason his music hasn’t always been immediately embraced by the new music community. But he’s perfectly O.K. with that.

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