2016-2017

Spring 2017 Visiting Artists

Jacob Shea

Born in San Jose, CA, Jacob Shea graduated from University of California with a degree in Music Composition. He has worked alongside several of Hollywood's top composers, including Elliot Goldenthal, Steve Jablonsky, Henry Jackman and Hans Zimmer. Jacob was selected as one of six fellows to attend the prestigious Sundance Composers Lab. His work as the Lead Composer at Bleeding Fingers Music has won him two BMI awards for Mountain Men and two BMI awards for Alaskan Bush People. Credits include music programmer for Public Enemies, arranger for Madagascar 2 and Despicable Me, and composer of additional music for Lone Survivor, Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Transformers: The Dark of the Moon and Battleship. For six seasons, Jacob's co-composed the critically acclaimed Through the Wormhole, narrated by Morgan Freeman. He has recently completed the score for the upcoming Planet Earth II, alongside Hans Zimmer and Jasha Klebe for the Bleeding Fingers Custom Music Shop.

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Gnarwhallaby

Gnarwhallaby consists of Brian Walsh, Richard Valitutto, Derek Stein and Matt Barbier. It was formed in 2011 to revive and perform the repertoire composed for the unique instrumentation of clarinet, trombone, cello, and piano. As its starting point, the quartet used the missions and repertoires of the now defunct, avant-garde polish ensemble Warsztat Muzyczny as well as the later German outfit quartet avance. As the third generation "grandchild" quartet – the first in the United States and the only currently active quartet of its kind in the world – Gnarwhallaby continues to expand this largely unknown and fascinating body of repertoire with active composer commissions and original compositions by its members. All are graduates of California Institute of the Arts.

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George S. Clinton

George S. Clinton began his professional musical career as a songwriter, arranger, and session musician in Nashville, while earning degrees in music and drama at Middle Tennessee State University. After graduation, Clinton moved to Los Angeles and became a staff writer for Warner Brothers Music, with songs recorded by such artists as Michael Jackson, Joe Cocker, and Three Dog Night, while arranging and performing session work. He later recorded albums for MCA, Elektra, ABC, and Arista. The critically acclaimed George Clinton Band attracted the attention of a movie producer, giving George the opportunity to score his first film, Cheech and Chong's Still Smokin', and, later, Cheech & Chong's The Corsican Brothers. His musical inventiveness and versatility in both orchestral and popular idioms have allowed him to contribute memorable scores to such diverse films as the hit comedy Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and its blockbuster sequels and the hit martial arts fantasy Mortal Kombat and its sequel. Most recent projects include the Emmy Award-winning Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, Hometown Glory, The Tooth Fairy, Extract, and Salvation Boulevard. Clinton has also written several concert works and three musicals. Awards include a Grammy nomination, an Emmy nomination, and 9 BMI Film Music Awards, including their highest honor, the Richard Kirk Career Achievement Award. He serves as an advisor at the Sundance Institute and chairs the Film Scoring Department at Berklee College of Music in Boston. 

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Larry Polansky

Larry Polansky is a composer, guitarist, mandolinist, and a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has also been on the faculties of Mills College and Dartmouth College. He is a founding member and co-director of Frog Peak Music (a composers' collective). He co-wrote HMSL (Hierarchical Music Specification Language) with Phil Burk and David Rosenboom. He is a prolific composer and scholar having produced many important publications and recordings, several of which can be found on New World Records, along with other labels. Highlights include an album of mensuration canons, Four-Voice Canons, and the CDs The Theory of Impossible Melody and The World’s Longest Melody. He also served as co-producer of Asmat Dream: New Music Indonesia

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Mark Robson

Mark Robson has been lauded by the Los Angeles Times on numerous occasions, singled out as a pianist with “one of the great techniques” and “an inquiring mind”. His career has included performance as a keyboard soloist, chamber artist, composer, conductor and vocal coach. He was a regular member of the music staff of the Los Angeles Opera from 1991 to 2010 as an assistant conductor and has worked as a musical assistant at the Salzburg and Spoleto (Italy) festivals. Mr. Robson has been on the faculties of USC, Cal State Fullerton, Chapman University and Cal Arts in the capacity of vocal coach and piano teacher. His music has been performed widely, including orchestral works premiered by the Brentwood-Westwood Symphony Orchestra and the Idyllwild Orchestra. Soprano Patricia Prunty has recorded his song cycle A Child of Air, which has been performed at the winter Ravinia Festival. Other compositions include a set of twenty-four preludes for the left hand, a bassoon trio and Dances and Dirges for piano, clarinet and cello. Mr. Robson has received degrees from the University of Southern California and Oberlin College; several years of study in Paris embellished his musical training. His teachers have included Lydia Frumkin, Yvonne Loriod, Alain Motard, John Perry and James Bonn. Two of his large-scale music projects have been the performance of the complete Beethoven sonatas and multiple performances of Messiaen’s great piano cycle Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus. In March 2012 he graduated from the Bang Studio school for comedy improvisation.

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Nels Cline

Born in Los Angeles in 1956, Cline began playing guitar around the age of 12, when his twin brother Alex began learning the drums. By the time Cline reached his twenties, he was heavily involved in L.A.'s improvisational community and, in 1978, appeared on his first recording, Openhearted by multi-instrumentalist Vinny Golia. Up to the mid-2000s, guitarist Nels Cline was probably best known for his work in the group Quartet Music (with brother Alex Cline, bassist Eric Von Essen, and violinist Jeff Gauthier) as well as other projects in the jazz, rock, and avant-garde idioms, and for his general involvement in the West Coast's improvisation community. However, since 2004, Cline has been a member of Wilco, which has opened up a much larger audience for the guitarist than is typical for even the most well-known of avant jazzers and creative improvisers.

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Anna Bulbrook – GirlSchool Founder

GIRLSCHOOL is a Los Angeles-based women-led music festival, online platform, and collective that celebrates and connects women-identified artists, leaders, and voices. Originally founded by Anna Bulbrook (the Bulls | the Airborne Toxic Event | Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros) in response to how few women she saw onstage in the alternative rock world, GIRLSCHOOL has grown into a vibrant volunteer network of women in music who connect to create an empowering community for one another while supporting women and girls. A portion of the proceeds from every GIRLSCHOOL event benefits a girl-positive organization.

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Rachel Beetz and Dustin Donahue

Rachel Beetz is a Southern California based flutist who focuses on the music of our time and of the last 100 years. She is an Affiliated Artist with San Diego New Music and also half of both Plus/Minus with percussionist Dustin Donahue and of Autoduplicity, a performance art project with cellist Jennifer Bewerse. Beetz has performed with ensembles such as Palimpsest, Callithumpian Consort, Noise Ensemble, Third Coast Percussion, red fish blue fish, Southland Ensemble and also has been featured on the wasteLAnd and Monday Evening Concerts series.

Dustin Donahue is a percussionist based in Los Angeles. He frequently performs with the International Contemporary Ensemble and has performed alongside Dawn Upshaw, Eighth Blackbird, and the Bang on a Can All-Stars. As a soloist, Dustin has been featured at the Carlsbad Music Festival, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, and the John Cage Centennial Festival in Washington, D.C. He appears on several releases for Mode Records and Populist Records.

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Michael Bettine

Michael Bettine is a storyteller. He tells stories with percussion and uses different sounds that will bring up memories, so the stories he tells are your own stories, the stories you live. Remember the sound of your grandma’s music box, the wind outside your window, or the busy street where you grew up? These are the type of sound stories that he tells. He uses the sound to connect you to memories. With over 40 years of research and performance, every day is different, every session is different, and all of the wonderful people he connects with are different. He does not work from a script. The Universe is fluid. What works one day, may not work the next. It's important that he work in the moment. Since 2002 Bettine has worked under the name, G O N G T O P I A, presenting concerts of original compositions & improvisations played on metal instruments, sounding bass drum, and hand drums. He’s released over 40 albums of solo percussion music and various duo/trio performances.

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Yasmine Kittles

Musician, writer, performance artist and actor Yasmine Kittles is a member of the bands Tearist, Former Ghosts and Low Red Center. Rolling Stone describes her performance practice: “aided by her hair raising yelp—a voice ranging from an operatic shriek to a post-Lydia Lunch growl—Kittles is thunder onstage, her assault uniquely confrontational and her crowd’s response visceral”. The bio on the Tearist website reads: “Tearist is a movement. Tearist is movement. R.I.P. up the past. To begin again.” In a cover story on the band, the LA Weekly writes “Tearist could very well be the most crucial musical project to come out of Los Angeles in recent years.” Kittles also writes for VICE magazine as a guest columnist.

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Jeannie Pool

Dr. Jeannie Pool is an ASCAP composer whose compositions were heard during recent season in California, Washington, D.C., Ohio, Denmark, and Toronto, Canada. As a music historian and producer, she served as the Executive Director of the Society for the Preservation of Film Music from 1990 to 2002. She lectures frequently on film music history and preservation, mostly in Europe and the United States. She serves as Artistic Director and producer of a concert series at Church of the Lighted Window in La Canada, California.

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Milen Kirov

Described as a pianist with “superhuman coordination,” Dr. Milen Kirov is an award-winning Bulgarian-American performer, composer, and educator with an inimitable artistic voice and celebrated creative output. His career redefines the role of the performer-composer in 21st century by transcending genres, labels, and artistic boundaries. Combining his Bulgarian music heritage and concert pianist background with contemporary composition, jazz, world music, and improvisation, Dr. Kirov has carved a thriving career as a well-known and respected artist. As an artist and producer, Dr. Kirov has released 4 albums and several singles on his own Ruino Vino Records label. The records include “broken” featuring his compositions for solo Fender Rhodes piano, a self titled album by his own Balkan-jazz trio Bulgarian Moonshine Co., and “Peasant Funk” (2011) and “Orkestar MÉZÉ” (2015) – two records by his 11-piece Balkan funk ensemble Orkestar MÉZÉ. Born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria in a family of musicians, Milen Kirov started playing the piano at age four. He holds degrees from California State University, Northridge and California Institute of the Arts. Currently Dr. Kirov resides in Los Angeles, California where he is an Assistant Professor of Piano, Composition, and Theory at Los Angeles City College.

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Jonathan Impett and Juan Parra Cancino - Music Thought and Technology Research Group

Two researchers from the Orpheus Institute, Ghent (Belgium) introduce their new research group ‘Music, Thought, and Technology’ (MTT). They will discuss issues surrounding the concept of ‘artistic research’ and present their project in this light. MTT proposes that the imagining and understanding of music are conditioned by an informal repertoire of conceptual models that can be considered technological. We might therefore look to the concepts and practices of technology to offer a useful discourse not only for the hybrid technology-enabled works that are our current paradigm, but also for wider musical practices. By the same token, we might look to our long cultural experience of the complex materiality/immateriality of music as we seek to understand the nature of digital culture and its artifacts.

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Dohee Lee

Born on Jeju Island in South Korea, Dohee Lee studied Korean dance, music, percussion and vocals at the master level. Since her arrival in the US she has been a vital contributor to both the traditional and contemporary arts landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Dohee’s work focuses on integration of traditional forms and contemporary arts through music, movement, images, costumes and installations. Lee's distinctive and profound performance style evokes the full spectrum of human emotion, the primordial, futuristic, visible and invisible realms.

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Anton Sanko

Anton Sanko is a music composer, orchestrator and producer born in New York City. He is currently working on an adaptation of Chekhov's "The Seagull", starring Annette Bening and Saoirse Ronan, directed by Michael Mayer. He has recently scored “Jackals”, a thriller starring Johnathon Schaech, Stephen Dorff and Deborah Kara Unger, directed by Kevin Greutert; “Big Bear”, a comedy starring and directed by Joey Kern, also starring Pablo Schreiber and Adam Brody; "Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Fiction Ever Made", directed by Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen; and “The Drowning”, a thriller starring Julia Stiles and Josh Charles, directed by Bette Gordon. This past year Anton was nominated for an Emmy for his work on “E.O. Wilson – Of Ants and Men” for PBS. He also scored the epic seven-part mini series “Great Migrations” for National Geographic, for which he received an Emmy. In 2013 he was nominated for another Emmy Award for his work in the Lifetime Original Movie “Ring of Fire”.  Sanko’s other credits include, “Ouija” (2014), “Jessabelle” (2014), “Visions” (2015), “The Possession” (2012), “Rabbit Hole” (2010), and HBO’s series “Big Love” (2009-11).

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Stephanie Aston

Stephanie Aston will be talking about techniques she uses in learning challenging music. If the students have particular interests in how that applies to a piece they are working on (or just interested in) they are encouraged to bring it as she would like to take some of the time to work with them on their music. Stephanie is a committed performer of contemporary music. Praised by Steve Schick as “fearless” in her pursuit of repertoire, she has participated in numerous American and world premiers, including Luigi Nono’s Guai ai Gelidi Mostri, Michael Gordon’s What to Wear, and George Aperghis’ Sextuor: L’Origine des espèces. She has appeared on the L.A. Philharmonic Green Umbrella and Chamber Music Series, wasteLAnd, (Re)Sounds at Stanford University, and at REDCAT. Ms. Aston is an original member of the vocal ensemble Kallisti, and a founding member of the ROMP Ensemble and Accordant Commons. She has also performed with Los Angeles Philharmonic, Long Beach Opera, The Industry, Red Fish Blue Fish, among others. Ms. Aston holds a D.M.A. from University of California San Diego, an M.F.A. from California Institute of the Arts, and a B.M. from University of North Texas and currently teaches at Moorpark College.

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Susan Alcorn and Phillip Greenlief

Having started out playing guitar at the age of 12, Susan Alcorn quickly immersed herself in folk music, blues and the pop music of the 1960s. A chance encounter with blues musician Muddy Waters steered her towards playing slide guitar. Soon, she began to combine the techniques of country-western pedal steel with her own extended techniques to form a personal style influenced by free jazz, avant-garde classical music, Indian ragas, Indigenous traditions, and various folk musics of the world. By the early 1990s her music began to show an influence of the holistic and feminist “deep listening” philosophies of Pauline Oliveros. The UK's Guardian describes her music as “beautiful, glassy and liquid, however far she strays from pulse and conventional harmony.

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Nadia Shpachenko

Multiple GRAMMY® nominated pianist Nadia Shpachenko enjoys bringing into the world things that are outside the box – powerful pieces that often possess unusual sonic qualities or instrumentation. Described by critics as a “truly inspiring and brilliant pianist… spellbinding in sensitivity and mastery of technique,” she performs on piano, toy piano, harpsichord, and percussion in concerts that often also feature recitation, electronics and multimedia. Nadia’s concert highlights include solo recitals at Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall, Bargemusic, the Phillips Collection, and REDCAT @ Disney Hall, as well as numerous appearances as soloist with orchestras in Europe and the Americas.

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Jack van Zandt

Born in Honolulu in 1954, Jack van Zandt grew up in California. He is a veteran composer of concert music, sonic sculptures, soundscapes, new media works and ambient environments for public spaces and gallery installations. He also composes music for television, film and advertising in partnership with Joel Wachbrit. He is a published writer, dedicated music education reformer and promoter, and professional music education consultant and program grant writer. He plays sax, keyboards and guitar and is the president of the American Composers Forum of Los Angeles.

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Ashley Walters

Ashley Walters has been praised for her "imposing talents" (Sequenza 21) and "impressive" (Pitchfork) and "beautiful playing" (All About Jazz). Ashley maintains a uniquely diverse career specializing in the performance of microtonal works and repertoire with extended techniques, alternate tunings, and improvisation.

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Thomas Leeb

Thomas Leeb picked up the guitar for the same reason as every thirteen-year-old boy: he wanted to meet girls. He soon fell in love with the instrument, played his first solo concert at the age of fifteen and released his first acoustic guitar album at seventeen. Leeb, a CalArts alumnus, is a frequent performer at concerts and festivals in Asia, the Americas, Europe and Africa and has been featured in numerous guitar magazines all over the world. Every year, he teaches workshops and master classes in universities and colleges and his album “Desert Pirate” was voted one of the essential albums of the last twenty years by Acoustic Guitar Magazine. His peculiar guitar style owes as much to percussive techniques as traditional fingerstyle guitar. What sets Thomas Leeb apart from some of his contemporaries is his ability to make pyrotechnics serve the music. Three years studying West African traditional music give him a sense of timing and groove that is unusual in a guitarist. All this has earned him a loyal world-wide following and influential fans such as Eric Roche who was his guitar teacher, “for about five minutes and then I heard him play,” Jon Gomm awarded him “ten out of ten Gomms”, Guthrie Govan who thinks that “what Thomas does on an acoustic guitar probably shouldn’t be legal.

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