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“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

Photo of Pablo Ziegler Outside his Apartment

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.

Andrew Norman: Empowering Performance

Andrew Norman: Empowering Performance

For composer Andrew Norman, the process of composing feels like a tug-of-war between opposing forces. From start to finish, he is constantly questioning, and pushing back on his own ideas in his efforts to create meaningful musical experiences for performers and for audiences. He revels in the visceral experiences of music making, and thoughtfully challenges performers to bring their own ideas to the interpretation of his music.

Lisa Bielawa: Fire Starter

Lisa Bielawa

It’s difficult to stand anywhere near composer and vocalist Lisa Bielawa and not feel energized by proximity. An extrovert to the core, she acknowledges that her highly social nature has taken her in some specific directions both as a composer and as a musical citizen.

Dan Trueman: Man Out of Time

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What could a Hardanger fiddle player and a computer programmer possibly have in common? For Dan Trueman, an expert in both areas, it’s all just technology. And whether the eventual expression of his ideas requires old instruments or the invention of new ones, he is more concerned that the tools employed offer musicians the most engaging musical experience possible.

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