Last Updated 12 November 2012
Roger Reynolds’s output ranges from instrumental compositions (string quartets, orchestral music) to elaborate dramatic works for singers, actors, instruments and multichannel computer processed sound. He works at the interface between high technology and art in such projects as george WASHINGTON, commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra, The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, and the University of California, Washington Center, ILLUSION, commissioned for Esa-Pekka Salonen by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in cooperation with the Rockefeller and Koussevitzky Foundations; 22, a collaboration with dancer Bill T. Jones, and the Arts Media and Engineering program at ASU, SANCTUARY (supported by the National Gallery of Art and red fish blue fish); Submerged Memories for Paul Dresher’s Electroacoustic Band with tenor John Dykers (commissioned by the Fromm Foundation); and SEASONS (supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Gallery of Art, and New Music Concerts (Toronto)).
Real-time computer algorithms have played an increasingly strong role in recent works such as Positings, MARKed MUSIC, and Dream Mirror, all of which are intensively collaborative undertakings in which improvisation is also an integral component. About Dream Mirror, The Washington Post’s Stephen Brookes wrote: “… pushed the guitar to a demanding virtuosic edge, but … kept the effect lyrical, the thinking coherent, and the poetry intact. … revealing a hidden universe of ideas, dreams, possibilities and memories …”
Reynolds’s real-time, interactive computer landscape, The Image Machine, epitomizes a new and painterly direction in his work. Long noted for tailoring spatially choreographed music to the particular character of architectural spaces, the composer’s work in sound movement is documented in his earlier VOICESPACE series and the pioneering Watershed and SANCTUARY DVD releases on Mode Records. About the Sanctuary DVD, the Los Angeles Times’s Mark Swed wrote: “An epic work of intoxicating beauty … over the span of an hour and a quarter, you might sense the brain of a lyric poet coming to sizzling life.”
Not only an internationally recognized composer, Reynolds has been engaged since the early 60s, in conceiving and realizing programs designed to promote and increase audience awareness of contemporary music: the legendary ONCE Festivals (Ann Arbor), CROSS TALK (Tokyo), The Pacific Ring and XENAKIS @ UCSD (San Diego), Horizons ’84 (New York Philharmonic), and most recently, SANCTUARY (2007), CHANGES:seasons (2010) as well as the John Cage Centennial Festival Washington, DC (2012) (the latter three in the Washington area). As an educator, he has been a mainstay in the innovative Music Department at UC San Diego for four decades, and is now the Director of an Arts Internship Program at the University of California’s Washington Center. This initiative aims to develop arts activists who will address, each in his/her own way, issues at the interface of American society and the Arts.
Reynolds is now at work on a major intermedia project – george WASHINGTON – centering on George Washington’s thought. It will be premiered at the Kennedy Center by the National Symphony Orchestra in relation to the opening of the George Washington Presidential Library at Mount Vernon in October 2013.
As a result, in part, of the establishment of a Special Collection of his work at the Library of Congress, Reynolds has become a frequent resident of Washington, dividing his time between his Southern California home and DC. Reynolds is University Professor in the University of California system, and was the founding Director of the Center for Music Experiment and Related Research at UCSD in the early '70s. He was the first Composer in Residence at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Sciences from 2008-10. Author of several books (most recently Form and Method: Composing Music [Routledge 2002]) and numerous journal articles, Reynolds has more than 90 published compositions (C.F. Peters Corporation, New York), as well as dozens of CD recordings.
His three large-scale projects at Ircam in Paris since 1980 have focused upon the influence of perceptual research on aesthetic goals. This line of interest continues in his work on ambiguity with UCSD colleague Shlomo Dubnov. Reynolds’ commissioners have included the Library of Congress (which supported the creation of a McKim Commission and the theatrical work, JUSTICE), the Philadelphia and Los Angeles orchestras, the British Arts Council, the French Ministry of Culture, Suntory Hall, the Fromm, Rockefeller, and Siemens foundations, Ircam, the BBC Proms Festival, Radio France, the West German Radio, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York. He has also been honored by the Pulitzer Prize in Music, an Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and visiting appointments at Yale, the University of Illinois, Brooklyn College of CCNY, Harvard, and Amherst.