Monday, April 4, 2011

Edmund Campion

Beginning an alphabetical series of posts on June in Buffalo 2011's Senior Faculty composers, Edmund Campion leads the way. As a composer specializing in electroacoustic music, his pedigree is impeccable: he received his doctorate at Columbia and studied at the Paris Conservatory with the late master GĂ©rard Grisey. Major commissions for IRCAM and Radio France followed, among them Natural Selection for interactive electronics and a full-scale ballet titled PlaybackME (2003- present) a work for baritone and interactive software, "explores the rise and development of consciousness in its egotistical, patriarchal sense." ME, a highly theatrical piece with a generous dose of black humor, is based on texts by the poet John Campion. It calls for an "in-ear prompter" that feeds the singer computer-generated material, which he has to imitate in various ways, and a child's hula hoop, which is used as a prop in various ways throughout the piece. The fascinating details can be found here, at Campion's website.

Campion's distinctive sensibility also comes through in Outside Music, described by Boston Globe critic Richard Dyer as "a rambunctious piece for synthesizer and live instruments." Reviewing a performance at the Tanglewood Music Festival in 2006, Dyer wrote, "The synthesizer is constantly invading the personal space of the instruments by duplicating their timbres. The piece ends, like Haydn's 'Farewell Symphony,' when the players walk off the stage one by one, leaving the synthesizer unattended, playing on all by itself."

In addition to composing and teaching, Campion is the co-director of CNMAT, the Center for New Media and Audio Technologies at UC Berkeley. Visit CNMAT's website for an abundance of vital information on computer music and new music in general, including free downloadable software tools, publications, and audio/video for streaming.

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