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

James Brandon Lewis

James Brandon Lewis (b.1983 Buffalo, NY) is a critically acclaimed saxophonist, composer, recording artist and educator. Ebony Magazine hailed him as one of the “7 Young Players to Watch.” James leads numerous ensembles and is the Co-Founder of Poetry Music Ensemble Heroes Are Gang Leaders. Lewis attended Howard University and holds an MFA from California Institute of the Arts.

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