Fall 2019 – Spring 2020 Visiting Artists

Spring 2020

Kalia Vandever


Kalia will be performing a few of her solo works for trombone with effects, as well as explaining her compositional and improvisational approaches.

Kalia Vandever is a trombonist, composer, and educator living in Brooklyn, NY. Her unique sound and approach to composition and improvisation is inspired by her broad musical influences. She often describes her approach to the trombone as an extension of her voice. She released her debut album "In Bloom" in May 2019, which features all of her original compositions written for quartet, as well as duo with guitar. She also has a solo project using trombone and voice with effects.

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Thomas Kotcheff

Kotcheff performs Frederick Rzewski’s monumental Songs of Insurrection! Please join us to hear Thomas talk about and play this 75 minute cycle of protest song/variations. All are welcome!

Thomas Kotcheff is a Los Angeles based composer and pianist. His compositions have been described as “truly beautiful and inspired” (icareifyoulisten.com) and “explosive” (Gramophone magazine), and have been performed internationally. As a new music pianist, Thomas has dedicated himself to commissioning and premiering new piano works. He is the pianist and founding member of the Los Angeles based piano duo HOCKET and he holds degrees in composition and piano performance from the Peabody Institute and the University of Southern California. For more information visit. 

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Lisa Mezzacappa

Lisa Mezzacappa has been an active collaborator in the San Francisco Bay Area music community for more than 15 years. Her activities as a composer, bassist, improviser, and ensemble leader encompass ethereal chamber music, electro-acoustic works, avant-garde jazz, music for groups from duo to large ensemble, and collaborations with film, dance, and visual art. Mezzacappa has released her music on the New World, Clean Feed, NoBusiness, Leo, and NotTwo record labels, and her work has been supported by the MAP Fund, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and the Aaron Copland Fund. Current projects include the improvising orchestra, the duo B. Experimental Band; a suite for sextet inspired by Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics; and a podcast opera about relationships at the dawn of the Internet.



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Vic Rawlings

Vic Rawlings employs a still and unstable sound language that traverses from visceral excess to extreme austerity. He has designed and built two separate instruments to realize this aesthetic, including extensive and invasive cello preparations, some directly based on obscure baroque instrumentation. The amplified cello is used as a resonant wooden microphone. He also continually develops an electronic instrument from the exposed circuit boards of sound processors, effectively producing an analog synthesizer with a highly unstable interface. This electronic instrument is realized by a flexible array of exposed speaker elements, chosen for their often unpredictable and idiosyncratic acoustic qualities. His solo performances deny conventional assumptions about the use of time and refuse alliance with dominant trends in improvised music.

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Rent Romus

Bay Area saxophonist, composer and bandleader Rent Romus will present the process and music behind “Manala” (netherworld), an original musical project weaving the elements of jazz, traditional folk, and free improvisation. He will be joined by co-composer, educator, and musician Heikki Koskinen. The project is inspired by the mythic prose of cultural liberation and identity found in the Finnish National Epic known as the Kalevala and the folklore of northern arctic traditions.

Rent Romus is a saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist, composer, bandleader, music producer, and community leader. A third generation Finnish American born in the great north of upper Michigan and growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Throughout his creative career his mission and vision is to create original music inspired by abstract visual art, science fiction, and cultural mythology, while seeking to challenge himself artistically through research and experimentation. He currently leads the Lords of Outland, a free improvisation unit since 1994, the Life's Blood Ensemble a composition focused contemporary ensemble, and leads the Finnish/American group Otherworld Ensemble.


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John P. McCowen

McCowen’s talk will be focused on the concept of the clarinet/contrabass clarinet as a new polyphonic instrument - an acoustic synthesizer.

John McCowen is a Brooklyn-based composer/performer originally from Southern Illinois. His work focuses on extending the acoustic possibilities of the clarinet family. John embraces long-form drones, difference tones, and beating harmonics as a means to extrude the dimensions within - treating the clarinet as an acoustic synthesizer. John was the 2017 and 2019 artist-in-residence at Lijiang Studio in Yunnan, China. He received the Elizabeth Mills Crothers Award for Excellence in Music Composition in 2016 from Mills College, where he also received an MA in Music Composition under the tutelage of Roscoe Mitchell. He is currently the 2020 artist-in-residence at ISSUE Project Room in Brooklyn, NY.

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Patrick Shiroishi

Patrick Shiroishi is a Japanese-American multi-instrumentalist & composer based in Los Angeles. He will be doing a short performance and giving a brief talk on his journey as a musician.

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Fall 2019 Visiting Artists

Stephen James Taylor

Mr. Taylor graduated from Stanford Music Department in 1976 and has worked as a film composer since 1981. He has received numerous credits and Emmy nominations, plus has many miscellaneous classical music commissions. Stephen is a guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, inventor, and filmmaker.

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Josh Nelson

A native of Southern California, Josh Nelson maintains an active and creative schedule as a jazz pianist, composer, teacher, and recording artist. He has performed with some of the most respected names in jazz, including Natalie Cole, Anthony Wilson, George Mraz, Jeff Hamilton, Walter Smith III, Dayna Stephens,  Alicia Olatuja, Eddie Daniels, Ken Peplowski, Richard Galliano, Benny Golson, Sheila Jordan, Greg Hutchinson, John Clayton, Seamus Blake, Matt Wilson, Sara Gazarek, Dave Koz, Joe Chambers, Kurt Elling, John Pizzarelli, and Lewis Nash. Josh has performed around the world and recorded for numerous albums, films, and TV shows, but also makes time for his own projects. His latest is 2017’s The Sky Remains which is his love letter to Los Angeles. It’s the third in his Discovery Project series. It unearths hidden gems and little-known stories about the composer’s hometown.



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Coleman Zurkowski


Coleman Zurkowski is a composer living in New York City. He received a Bachelor's in Music Composition from DePaul University in 2012 and an MFA in MusicComposition from CalArts in 2014. He is currently working in New York, composing music for film, commercials and theater., as well as presenting music of his own. Coleman has self-funded two national tours of his personal compositions and one international tour. ZERO was also signed to Dangerbird Records in Los Angeles as a part of their experimental music series "Arthur King Presents" and was released in 2018.

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Tim Hagans

Grammy-nominated composer and trumpeter Tim Hagans is one of the most unique and influential modern voices in jazz. His distinct tone was described by the Village Voice as “powerfully expressive” and Gary Giddins professed him to be a “swarming, spirited tour de force.” His newest CD, FACES UNDER THE INFLUENCE, A Jazz Tribute to John Cassavetes is a suite of 7 musical portraits inspired by characters from the films of John Cassavetes. The recording features the NDR Big Band in Hamburg with Mr. Hagans as guest composer, conductor and trumpet soloist; it was released on Waiting Moon Records, Hagans' own label.

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Cathlene Pineda


Cathlene Pineda is a sought-after pianist and composer in the Los Angeles area. In 2016, Orenda Records released Cathlene's second album of original music, Passing: A California Suite. "Airy, elegant, and haunting" (Cesareo Garasa, The Californian), this album was originally a piece commissioned by the Los Angeles Jazz Society and premiered at the Angel City Jazz Festival. The album creates “an open atmosphere that hints at the complex beauty of the city" (Lee Epstein, freejazzblog.org). The LA Times called Cathlene’s first album, A Week’s Time, (Orenda Records, 2014) a “graceful pleasure.” She is currently working on her third album, to be released in the Spring of 2020. Cathlene received an MFA in Jazz Performance from California Institute of the Arts in 2011.


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Ivan Ivanov

Lecture Surrealism in Music
Presentation of book Surrealism in Music and Leonardo Balada

Bulgarian born clarinetist Ivan Ivanov studied at the Sofia State Academy of music “Pancho Vladigerov” and finished his Bachelor’s degree with distinctions. In 2004 Mr. Ivanov became a permanent member of the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra and worked with such conductors as Sir Neville Mariner, Jean Bernard Pommier, Rossen Milanov and others. In addition to his full-time employment at the National Orchestra he collaborated with Radio Sofia Orchestra, New Symphony Orchestra, Classic FM Radio, National Opera etc. As an orchestral player he has toured France, Germany, Spain, Austria, Nederland, Japan and etc. Mr. Ivanov earned his Master’s degree of Performance Clarinet at the Carnegie Mellon University from the studio of Michael Rusinek, Principal Clarinet of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and his Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas from the studio of Dr. Marina Sturm, former first and e-flat clarinet player of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. He also studied with Ricardo Morales, Boris Allakhverdyan etc. Currently, Ivan serves as substitute player with the Las Vegas Philharmonic and San Diego Symphony. 


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Latvian Vocal Ensemble


Featuring author and Professor Dr. Guntis Smidchens from the University of Washington and the internationally acclaimed a cappella group Latvian Voices.

Latvian Voices is a professional a cappella group from Latvia. With their voices as the only musical instrument Latvian Voices have developed a unique individual vocal style, in which intonations from ethnic music of many nations intertwine. Since the founding of the group in year 2009 Latvian Voices have participated in many international music festivals, competitions, workshops and given concert tours across Europe and worldwide.

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