Computer Music Focus: Neil Rolnick

Computer Music Focus: Neil Rolnick
Friday, March 17th, 2017
5:00 pm
Conrad Prebys Music Center Experimental Theater

The Computer Music Focus lecture series continues with a presentation by composer Neil Rolnick. In this lecture, Rolnick will recount his experience using computers in performance since the 1970s. Using musical examples, he'll describe the evolution of his thinking about what it means to treat the computer as an instrument, and he'll perform excerpts of several recent pieces for laptop computer.

Composer Neil Rolnick pioneered the use of computers in musical performance, beginning in the late 1970s. Based in New York City since 2002, his music has been performed worldwide, including recent performances in China and Mexico and across the U.S. His string quartet Oceans Eat Cities was performed at the UN Global Climate Summit in Paris in December 2015.

Rolnick’s music has often included unexpected and unusual combinations of materials and media. His work ranges from digital sampling and interactive multimedia to acoustic vocal, chamber and orchestral works. Throughout the 1980s and '90s he was responsible for the development of the first integrated electronic arts graduate and undergraduate programs in the U.S., at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s iEAR Studios in Troy, NY.

Though much of his work connects music and technology, and is therefore considered in the realm of “experimental” music, Rolnick’s music has always been highly melodic and accessible.  Whether working with electronic sounds, acoustic ensembles, or combinations of the two, his music has been characterized by critics as “sophisticated,” “hummable and engaging” and as having “good senses of showmanship and humor.” 

In 2014 and 2015 Rolnick completed Cello Ex Machina (2015)Silicon Breath (2014), commissioned by the New York State Council on the Arts, and Dynamic RAM & Concert Grand (2014), commissioned by the Fromm Foundation. All three appear on his latest CD Ex Machina, released on Innova Recordings in 2016.  During this period, Rolnick also completed the first two of a series of new solo laptop performance pieces, O Brother! and WakeUp, deconstructing recordings by Rolnick’s younger brother and by the Everly Brothers, respectively. In 2014, the American Composers Orchestra issued the 18th commercial recording of Rolnick’s work, his iFiddle Concerto, featuring violinist Todd Reynolds.

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