David Behrman Colloquium

March 19, 2021 - 3:30pm

Please mark your calendars for Friday, March 19 at 3:30pm for a Colloquium by composer David Behrman, a pioneer in the field of live electronic and computer music. Behrman Co-founded the Sonic Arts Union along with Robert Ashley, Alvin Lucier and Gordon Mumma, and he produced the legendary “Music of Our Time” series for Columbia Records in the 60s. Please add the attached Zoom Colloquium link to your calendars.


Meeting ID: 960 5400 7061

Passcode: 682940

David Behrman has been active as a composer and artist since the 1960s. Over the years he has made sound and multimedia installations for gallery spaces as well as musical compositions for performance in concerts. Many of his works feature flexible structures and a use of technology in personal ways; they rely on interactive real-time relationships with imaginative performers.

Long Throw, Unforeseen Events, My Dear Siegfried, Leapday Night, QSRL, On the Other Ocean, Interspecies Smalltalk, Homemade Synthesizer Music with Sliding Pitches, Figure in a Clearing, Protests 1917—2004, Useful Information and Open Space with Brass are among Behrman's works for soloists and small ensembles. Among the artists who have performed his music are Joan La Barbara, Thomas Buckner, Conrad Harris, Jon Gibson, Barbara Held, John King, Takehisa Kosugi, Okkyung Lee, Jenny Lin, Ted Mook, Ben Neill, Maggi Payne, Anton Lukoszevieze, Ralph Samuelson, Kazue Sawaii, Peter Zummo, Werner Durand and Cleek Schrey.

His works have been presented at venues in North America, Japan and Europe, among them The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Sankt Peter in Cologne, Inventionen in Berlin, the CBC in Toronto, Metronom in Barcelona, Roulette, Experimental Intermedia, Interpretations, the Kitchen, the Lincoln Center Summer Festival and La Mama in New York, Studio 200 in Tokyo and Royal Albert Hall in London. How We Got Here, an orchestral piece, was commissioned by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in 2013 and performed in Glasgow in May 2014, Ilan Volkov conducting.

Behrman sound and multimedia installations have been exhibited at Parochialkirche in Berlin, the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Hudson River Museum, the DeCordova Museum, The Addison Gallery of American Art, Ars Electronica in Linz, La Villette Science and Technology Museum in Paris, Studio Five Beekman, T.W. Stanford Gallery at Stanford University, and other spaces. Among the installations are Cloud Music (1974-79, a collaboration with Robert Watts and Bob Diamond); Sound Fountain (1982, a collaboration with Paul DeMarinis); A Map of the Known World and Algorithmes et Kalimba (1986-87, collaborations with George Lewis); In Thin Air (1997), Pen Light (2002), and View Finder (2002-2005). Cloud Music was acquired In 2013 into the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and was exhibited in the museum's Lincoln Gallery in Washington in 2013. In 2015 Cloud Music was included in the Smithsonian’s exhibition Revelations in Media Art.

Audio recordings of his works are on the Alga Marghen, Black Truffle, XI, Lovely Music, Wergo and Pogus labels; videos can be viewed at Roulette.org and ubu.com.

Together with Robert Ashley, Alvin Lucier and Gordon Mumma, Behrman founded the Sonic Arts Union in 1966. Sonic Arts toured extensively in North America and Europe from 1966 till 1976. Sonic Arts retrospective performances have been featured at the Maerzmusik Festival in Berlin, International House in Philadelphia and The New School in New York. A 2-evening festival celebrating Sonic Arts was presented by Issue Project Room in Brooklyn in July 2018.

In the early Nineteen Eighties he collaborated with the Eva Sisters on performance art pieces in San Francisco. In 2010 he was music director for Terri Hanlon’s video Meringue Diplomacy, which premiered at the Alliance Français in New York. A recording of She’s More Wild, a performance art collaboration from 1981 with Terri Hanlon, Fern Friedman, Paul DeMarinis and Anne Klingensmith was released last year on the Black Truffle record label.

Working at Columbia Records in the late Sixties, Behrman produced many of the the "Music of Our Time" series of new music recordings for Masterworks and Odyssey. Among them were the first recording of Terry Riley's In C as well as his Rainbow in Curved Air, and works by Robert Ashley, John Cage, Mauricio Kagel, Alvin Lucier, Richard Maxfield, Gordon Mumma, Pauline Oliveros, Henri Pousseur, Steve Reich, David Tudor, Christian Wolff and other influential composers.

Behrman began working with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 1967 and toured part-time as composer / performer with the Company from 1970 through 1976. During the early Seventies he assisted John Cage with several projects, among them Score (40 Drawings by Thoreau). He rejoined the Company from time to time in the Eighties and Nineties, and again from 2004 through i2011. He was a member of the Company’s Music Committee, which oversaw music issues during the last 7 years of the Company’s existence. In April 2020, together with Christian Wolff and John King, he collaborated on Event 2 for Jasper Johns’ 90th birthday, a video / music streaming piece with participation of over 70 former Cunningham dancers.

Merce Cunningham commissioned him to compose music for Walkaround Time in 1968, Rebus in 1976, Pictures in 1984 and EyeSpace in 2007. Pictures, with its music Interspecies Smalltalk, won the Lawrence Olivier Award in 1985. It remained in the Company repertory from 1984 to 1989, and was revived in 2002. In 2010 Behrman was a co-producer of Music for Merce 1952—2009, a 10-CD album on New World Records featuring music by many of the composers and performers who contributed to the Cunningham Company during its 58-year history. His Open Space with Brass was one of four works commissioned by the Company for its final performances in New York in 2011.

In 2017, the Paris Opera Ballet revived Walkaround Time and invited him to make a new version, which was performed at the Palais Garnier in 2017 and the Chaillot Theater in 2019.

He was co-director of the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College in 1975-1980 and has returned to Mills as visiting artist / guest faculty several times since then, most recently in 2019. He has taught also at Cal Arts, Rutgers, Bard College, Wesleyan University, Ohio State and the Technical University in Berlin, and was a member in recent years of the Milton Avery Graduate Arts Program faculty at Bard College.

In 2014 the custom-designed electronic music instruments that he built and used in performances in the 1970s and 1980s were acquired by the World Instrument Collection at Wesleyan University. Artist residencies have included the Japan-United States

Friendship Commission (1987-88), the D.A.A.D. (Berlin, 1988-89), KGNM (Cologne Society for New Music, 2002), the Art Institute of Chicago, Harvestworks in New York, Stanford University, Wesleyan University, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, the Emily Harvey Foundation in Venice (1915) and the Inge Otto composer’s fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin (1916).

Behrman has received grants and commissions from the NEA, NYSCA and NYFA, the Massachusetts Arts Council, the Henry Cowell Foundation, Radio Bremen, La Villette Museum in Paris, Mutable Music, Music from Japan and other organizations. From the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in New York he received an Artist's Award in 1995 and the John Cage Award in 2004.

All events are subject to change.
Please write music@virginia.edu or call 434.924.3052 for more information.


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Email: music@virginia.edu