Photo: Peter Gannushkin / DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET
Sam Yulsman (b. 1990) is a composer, pianist and multimedia artist whose work spans a wide range of musical idioms. As a pianist he has collaborated closely with composers as an interpreter of new works, and with improvisers in contexts where the boundaries between composed and improvised music are porous and easily traversed. Yulsman has performed and/or recorded in the United States and Europe with artists including Joe Morris, Ryan Muncy, Bill Frisell, Biliana Voutchkova, Tyshawn Sorey, Peter Evans, Pheeroan akLaff, Cyrus McGoldrick (aka The Raskol Khan), CJ Camerieri, Art Lande, John Colpitts (aka Kid Millions), Chris Corsano, Nicola Hein, Brandon Lopez, Chris Heenan, Mark Miller and Weston Olencki. Recent performances of new works include premieres of Kenji Sakai’s Fanfare Towards the Dusk at the Music From Japan Festival 2017, and Chris Pitsiokos’ Working from Postcards is Good Enough If You Are Francis Picabia at Art for Art’s 2017 festival, Justice is Compassion/Not a Police State.
As a composer, Yulsman’s work explores a diversity of materials and approaches to sound, ranging from choreographic treatments of performer gestures and interactions, to slowly unfurling harmonic narratives and blues inspired experiments with repetition. His work has been performed by ensembles including JACK Quartet, Wet Ink Ensemble, Mivos Quartet, loadbang, counter)induction and the Westerlies Brass Quartet. Other important collaborators include Anaïse Maviel, Roman Filiu, Collin Stranahan, Jean-Lou Treboux, Kent McKlagan, Lika Pailodze, Greg Gisbert, and Paul Romaine. In 2016 Yulsman was selected for the 1st annual Wet Ink Large Ensemble Readings Project. He is currently working on a new piece for Ensemble Korea, premiering at the Pacific Rim Music Festival in October 2017.
Yulsman also performs and composes with electronics. In April 2017, he worked with George Lewis and the S.E.M. Ensemble, performing the electronics for Lewis’ Emergent and Seismologic with Claire Chase and Dana Jessen at Bohemian National Hall. Other important works include a multimedia performance installation Little Moments of Invisible Deaths written and performed in collaboration with Martin Hiendl, and an interactive database of biographical sound-bites composed for saxophonist Chris Pitsiokos which was premiered at the Columbia Sound Arts Electroacoustic Concert in 2015.
Yulsman is currently pursuing a DMA in composition at Columbia University where he studies with George Lewis, Georg Haas, and Fred Lerdahl. He completed a B.A. in anthropology at Columbia University in 2014, where he received the Ella Deloria Fellowship for his work in 2011-2012 recording and documenting the work of musicians from Siwa, Egypt. In 2014 he was also nominated for the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts by the Columbia University Music Department, and is currently a recipient of the Victor Barnouw Fellowship Fund.