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Photo of Michael Pisaro by Yuko Zama.

The Nature of Music: Michael Pisaro

Michael Pisaro, born in Buffalo in 1961, teaches composition at CalArts in Valencia, CA. He is a composer and guitarist, and a member of the Wandelweiser Composers Ensemble. He has written over 80 works for a wide variety of instrumental combinations, including several pieces for variable instrumentation. A particularly large category of his music is solo works, notably a series of 36 pieces (grouped into 6 longer works) for the three-year, 156-concert series organized by Carlo Inderhees at the Zionskirche in Berlin-Mitte from 1997-1999. Another solo piece, pi (1-2594), was performed in installments by the composer on 15 selected days in February, 1999, in Evanston, Illinois, and in Düsseldorf in 2000-2001.

His work is frequently performed in the U.S. and in Europe, in music festivals and in many smaller venues. It has been selected twice by the ISCM jury for performance at World Music Days festivals (Copenhagen,1996; Manchester, 1998) and has also been part of festivals in Hong Kong (ICMC, 1998), Vienna (Wien Modern,1997), Aspen (1991) and Chicago (New Music Chicago, 1990, 1991). He has had extended composer residencies in Germany (Künstlerhof Schreyahn), Switzerland (Forumclaque/Baden), Israel (Miskenot Sha’ananmim), Greece (EarTalk) and in the U.S. (Birch Creek Music Festival/ Wisconsin). Concert length portraits of his music have been given in Munich, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, Vienna, Brussels, Curitiba (Brazil), Berlin, Chicago, Düsseldorf, Zürich, and Cologne.

Most of his music of the last several years is published by Timescaper Music (Germany). Two CDs of his work have been released by Edition Wandelweiser Records. He has performed many of his own works and those of close associates Antoine Beuger, Kunsu Shim, Jürg Frey and Manfred Werder, and works from the American experimental tradition, especially John Cage, Christian Wolff, Robert Ashley and George Brecht.

For The Nature of Music series, Mr. Pisaro performed and discussed two compositions, both involving field recording and live playback.

  1. Transparent City consists of field recordings (all from Los Angeles) and sine tones, with the composer playing electric guitar.
  2. asleep, forest, melody, path was played by Pisaro and the Other Minds Ensemble performing an aleatoric score alongside nature sound recordings played in canon with themselves. The members of the Other Minds Ensemble at this performance were Michael Jones, Liam Herb, Wendy Reid, Randall Wong, Lula Asplund and Sally Decker.

To learn more about Michael and his work, you can go to his Wikipedia page. There is also a lengthy interview of Michael by Nathan Thomas, viewable on the Fluid Radio web site.

Artist Media: Video

Artist Media: Audio

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