James Tenney

photo from CalArts archives

March 14, 2006
at the REDCAT theater
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Los Angeles
8:30 pm

Seegersong #1 for solo clarinet (1999) by James Tenney
Los Angeles Premiere
Seegersong #1 is one of a set of pieces for various melodic instruments, inspired by the notion of a “dissonant counterpoint” (defined in such a way as to be applicable even to a single melodic line) as advocated by Charles Seeger and exemplified in the works of Carl Ruggles and Ruth Crawford Seeger. Commissioned by Michele Verheul with the assistance of the Ontario Arts Council.
—James Tenney

JAMES TENNEY was born in 1934 in Silver City, New Mexico, and grew up in Arizona and Colorado, where he received his early training as a pianist and composer. He attended the University of Denver, the Juilliard School of Music, Bennington College, and the University of Illinois. His teachers and mentors have included Eduard Steuermann, Chou Wen-Chung, Lionel Nowak, Carl Ruggles, Lejaren Hiller, Kenneth Gaburo, Edgard Varèse, Harry Partch, and John Cage.

A performer as well as a composer and theorist, he was co-founder and conductor of the Tone Roads Chamber Ensemble in New York City (1963–70). He was a pioneer in the field of electronic and computer music, working with Max Mathews and others at the Bell Telephone Laboratories in the early 1960s to develop programs for computer sound-generation and composition. He has written works for a variety of media, both instrumental and electronic, many of them using alternative tuning systems. He is the author of several articles on musical acoustics, computer music, and musical form and perception, as well as two books: META / HODOS: A Phenomenology of 20th-Century Musical Materials and an Approach to the Study of Form (1961; Frog Peak, 1988) and A History of ‘Consonance’ and ‘Dissonance’ (Excelsior, 1988).

He has received grants and awards from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the Fromm Foundation, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, and the Jean A. Chalmers Foundation. He has taught at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, the University of California, and at York University in Toronto, where he was named Distinguished Research Professor in 1994. He now holds the Roy E. Disney Family Chair in Musical Composition at the California Institute of the Arts. His music is published by Sonic Art Editions and the Canadian Music Centre, and is distributed by them and by Frog Peak. Recordings are available from Artifact, col legno, CRI, Hat[now]ART, Koch International, Mode, Musicworks, New World, Nexus, oodiscs, SYR and Toshiba EMI, among others. The Bavarian Broadcasting Company has commissioned a new work for orchestra to be premièred by the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks in 2007.


© & ℗ 2005 William E. Powell
design by Miriam Kolar