Thursday, May 12, 2011

Eric Chasalow


Continuing our alphabetical look at the Senior Faculty of June in Buffalo 2011, we turn to composer Eric Chasalow, who has been described as "the rare composer who is as comfortable with electro-acoustic music as he is with music for traditional ensembles. ARRAY, the journal of the International Computer Music Association, wrote that his 2003 CD Left to His Own Devices "clearly establishes him as one of the leaders of our times...offering a wondrous fusion between distinct styles and mediums...." 

Chasalow's music has been embraced by performers throughout the world, with recent performances from Boston to Berlin and San Francisco to Seoul. 

A member of the Brandeis University faculty since 1990, Chasalow directs the Brandeis Electro-Acoustic Music Studio. He produces the biennial BEAMS Electronic Music Marathon, on the Boston CyberArts Festival. Since 1996 he has curated The Video Archive of Electroacoustic Music, an oral history project chronicling the pioneer electronic music composers and engineers from 1950 to the present. 

A product of the famed Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, Chasalow studied composition with Mario Davidovsky and flute with Harvey Sollberger. He has been honored by the Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, the Fromm Foundation at Harvard, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


Says Chasalow, "Over the years, the technology available to me has changed dramatically, from the hand-made cutting and splicing of the analog studio, to MIDI automation and, currently, graphical computer-based sound editing environments. While the newer tools have made the process of realizing electronic music much easier, my fundamental musical approach to these pieces has not changed much. At the core is the tradition created by the work of Mario Davidovsky. In this tradition, one uses prerecorded sounds to expand upon the acoustical characteristics of the live instruments—the real origin of the 'hyperinstrument' concept. What may be obvious is that the timbre of a traditional instrument in performance may be changed by adding electronic components—a kind of heightened orchestration… While my studio technique derives from Davidovsky, the musical character is quite different. My instrumental writing is often at an energy level drawn from my experience with improvised jazz. My recent electronic music reflects this as well. By adding layers of manipulated recordings of spoken or sung text, the sound of the human voice often emerges in surprising ways." 

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