Democratic, irreverent and traditionally experimental, Alvin Curran travels in a computerized covered wagon between the Golden Gate and the Tiber River, and makes music for every occasion with any sounding phenomena — a volatile mix of lyricism and chaos, structure and indeterminacy, fog horns, fiddles and fiddle heads. His more than 150 works feature taped/sampled natural sounds, piano, synthesizers, computers, violin, percussion, shofar, ship horns, accordion and chorus. Whether in the intimate form of his well-known solo performances, or pure chamber music, experimental radio works or large-scale site-specific sound environments and installations, all forge a very personal language from all the languages through dedicated research and recombinant invention.
The Alvin Curran Fake Book is a solo performance – a culminating project of sounds from everywhere spontaneously played with musical sketches, modules and compostions from 1965-to the present. Realized with 1000’s of digital samples played from a keyboard, a piano, voice, shofar, harmonica, and found objects.
Alvin Curran’s music career spans nearly 50 years as a composer/performer/teacher in the American experimentalist tradition – his work readily embraces all the contradictions. Born in Providence RI in 1938 into a Yiddish speaking family of popular musicians, he studied piano from the age of five and learned trombone by himself, opening up to early formative experiences playing Jazz, dance music, Orchestral Choral and Band music. He studied composition with Ron Nelson at Brown University (in the American symphonic style) and with Elliott Carter at Yale School of Music earning an MMus. degree in 1963. Since 1964 has resided in Rome, Italy, taught briefly at the Accademia Nazionale d’Arte Drammatica, and was the Milhaud Professor of Composition at Mills College 1991-2006. His work is a kind of hand-book to music making in the late 20th Century, seen through his original pursuits of: live electronic Improvisation (founding member of MEV 1966); solo performance (“Songs and Views from the Magnetic Garden” 1973, Endangered Species 2000); Radio Art (Crystal Pslams 1988, Erat Verbum 1990, TransDadaExpress-Extraordinary Renderings, 2006) large theatrical sound installations (the Twentieth Century 1996, Gardening with John 2005, and Maritime Rites 1978 (il Laghetto di Villa Borghese, Oh Brass on the Grass Alas 2006), NPR radio series 1984, 2007- Thames River, Tate Modern London) – his expansive composition with natural sound and acoustic and electronic instruments has lead to the creation of a form of new musical theater in large architechtural and natural spaces. His chamber music includes abundant music for solo piano (Inner Cities 1-14 – a 6 hour piano cycle 1992-2008) and numerous works for ensembles and small orchestras, and chorus, many of which have been made in collaborations with choreographers, Trisha Brown, Joan Jonas, Margy Jenkins, Achim Freyer, Molissa Fenley, Nancy Karp, Wanda Golonka, and Yoshiko Chuma.