Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music
Vice-Chair, Department of Music
George E. Lewis is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University. The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship in 2002, an Alpert Award in the Arts in 1999, a United States Artists 2011 USA Walker Fellowship, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lewis studied composition with Muhal Richard Abrams at the AACM School of Music, and trombone with Dean Hey. A member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971, Lewis's work as composer, improvisor, performer and interpreter explores electronic and computer music, computer-based multimedia installations, text-sound works, and notated and improvisative forms, and is documented on more than 140 recordings. His oral history is archived in Yale University's collection of "Major Figures in American Music," and his compositions and installations have been presented by the American Composers Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Talea Ensemble, Dinosaur Annex, Ensemble Pamplemousse, Wet Ink, Turning Point Ensemble, Ensemble Erik Satie, Ensemble Dal Niente, Bowling Green Festival of New Music, Eco Ensemble, and others, with commissions from the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, 2010 Vancouver Cultural Olympiad, Ensemble Either/Or, OPUS (Paris), IRCAM, Orkestra Futura, Harvestworks, Studio Museum in Harlem, the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, and others. Most recently, Lewis has served as Ernest Bloch Visiting Professor of Music, University of California, Berkeley; Paul Fromm Composer in Residence, American Academy in Rome; Resident Scholar, Center for Disciplinary Innovation, Franke Institute for the Humanities, University of Chicago; and CAC Fitt Artist In Residence, Brown University. Lewis has been honored with the 2012 SEAMUS Award from the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States, and his widely acclaimed book, A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music (University of Chicago Press, 2008) is a recipient of the American Book Award. Lewis is the co-editor of the forthcoming two-volume Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies. Professor Lewis came to Columbia in 2004, having previously taught at the University of California, San Diego, Mills College, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Simon Fraser University's Contemporary Arts Summer Institute.
Degrees, Publications, and Recordings
BA, Philosophy, Yale, 1974
Selected Publications, Recordings, and Compositions:
BOOKS Lewis, George E., ed. Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies, Vols. 1&2. Under contract for two volumes, Oxford University Press. Volume one due in 2014 Lewis, George E. A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008 SELECTED COMPOSITIONS AND INSTALLATIONS Assemblage (2013), for nine musicians (fl, cl/bcl, ss/ts, pc, hp, pf, vl, vla, vc). Written for Ensemble Dal Niente, 16 minutes in one movement. Premiered October 18, 2013, Bowling Green New Music Festival, Bowling Green State University, Ohio. Born Obbligato (2013), for septet (cl, bsn, hn, vl, vla, vc, with optional percussion and electronics movement). Written for the International Contemporary Ensemble, 25 minutes in six movements, premiered August 22, 2013, Mostly Mozart Festival, Lincoln Center, New York City. Last Words (2013), for chorus (SATB), text by Charles Bernstein. Sections premiered at the Walden School, Dublin, New Hampshire, August 2, 2013. Full work is 5 minutes in one movement. Hexis (2013), for sextet. Written for the San Francisco Contemporary Chamber Players (fl/bfl/picc, cl/bcl, perc, pf, vl, vc). 12 minutes in one movement, to be premiered February 24, 2013. Impromptu (2012), for ensemble with improvisation. Written for Ensemble Pamplemousse (fl/picc, perc, pf, soprano, vl, vc,. Variable duration, around 10 minutes in one movement, premiered December 9, 2012, Brecht Forum, New York City. Tractatus (2012), for ensemble with improvisation. Written for Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra (variable instrumentation: nominally picc, 2 fl, ob, a.sax, t.sax, b.sax, horn, tp, 2 tbn, drumset, elec gtr, acoustic gtr, hp, pf, d, perc, , 2 soprano, vc, 3 cb, electronics). Variable duration, around 25 minutes in one movement, premiered December 1, 2012, Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow. Mnemosis (2012), for septet. Written for the Talea Ensemble (fl/bfl/picc, cl/bcl, perc, pf, vl, vla, vc). 14 minutes in one movement, premiered December 14, 2012, Mannes College of Music. Pots (2012), for ensemble with improvisation. Written for Orkestra Futura (t.sax, tp, tb, elec gtr, a.sax, b.sax, drumset, pf, vl, cb, electronics). Variable duration around 16 minutes in one movement, to be premiered November 23, 2012. Merce and Baby (2012), for quartet. Written for the John Cage 2012 Centennial Festival, Washington DC (fl, vl, vc, perc/drumset), 9 min in one movement. Premiered September 9, 2012, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Thistledown (2012), piano trio with percussion. Written for Ensemble Either/Or (vl, vc, perc, pf), 11 min in one movement. Premiered April 27, 2012, The Kitchen, New York City The Will To Adorn (2011), composition for large chamber ensemble. Written for the International Contemporary Ensemble; premiered November 12, 2011, Miller Theatre, New York City. Anthem (2011), composition for chamber ensemble with electronics. Written for the Wet Ink Band. Les Exercices Spirituels for eight instruments and computer sound processing. Forum de Blanc-Mesnil, Paris region. Commissioned by Banlieues Bleues Festival, Arnaud Petit (conductor). Ikons, sculptural-sonic installation by Eric Metcalfe and George Lewis, with associated composition for eight instruments by George Lewis. Premiere: January 27, 2010, Vancouver, BC Canada. Commissioned by the 2010 Vancouver Cultural Olympiad. Sour Mash, composition for vinyl turntablists by George Lewis and Marina Rosenfeld. Premiered at New York Electronic Art Festival, Frederick Loewe Theatre, New York University, October 26, 2009. Something Like Fred, composition for creative orchestra. Commissioned and presented by Millennium Park, City of Chicago. Premiered August 2, 2009, AACM Great Black Music Ensemble. The Painted Bed , composition for tenor voice and viola, with text by Donald Hall. Commissioned and presented by Works and Process, Guggenheim Museum, New York City, May 10-11, 2009. Travelogue, sound installation. Shown at the Studio Museum in Harlem, November 2008-March 2009. Interactive Duo (version one, 2007), composition for interactive computer-driven piano and human instrumentalist. Interactive Duo (version two, 2007), composition for two interactive computer-driven pianos. Interactive Trio (2007), composition for interactive computer-driven piano, human pianist, and additional instrumentalist. Artificial Life 2007, composition for improvisors with open instrumentation. Commission, Scottish Arts Council, for the Glasgow Improvisors' Orchestra. Premiered December 2007, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Glasgow, Scotland. Exhibition, Rio Negro II, robotic-acoustic sound installation, Contemporary Art Museum Houston, May 2007 Commission, Harvestworks, new work for robotic sound sculptures. Premiere, 3-Legged Dog Art and Technology Center, New York City, May 2007 Hello Mary Lou (2007) for chamber ensemble and live electronics. World premiere, Vancouver, BC, January 2007. Virtual Concerto (2004), for improvising computer piano soloist and orchestra. World premiere, Carnegie Hall, April 2004, American Composers Orchestra. Crazy Quilt (2002), composition for infrared-controlled "virtual percussion" and four European-classically-trained percussionists. Information Station No. 1 (2000), multi-screen videosonic interactive installation for the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant, San Diego, Calif. Commissioned by the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Ring Shout Ramble (1998), for saxophone quartet, commissioned by the Lila Wallace/Readers Digest Commissioning program, and premiered in October 1998 by the ROVA Saxophone Quartet, Spruce Street Forum, San Diego, CA. Performances scheduled across the USA and Europe. Signifying Riffs (1998), for string quartet and percussion. New York premiere, November 2000, Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians Concert Series. North Star Boogaloo (1996), for percussionist and computer. Premiered February 1996, Mandeville Auditorium, UCSD. Steven Schick, percussion. Numerous performances internationally. Collage (1995), for poet and chamber orchestra. Premiered November 1995, Society for Ethical Culture, New York City. Quincy Troupe, poet. Endless Shout (1994), composition for piano, Premiered March 1994, De Ijsbreker, Amsterdam, Frederic Rzewski, pianist. Virtual Discourse (1993), composition for infrared-controlled "virtual percussion" and four European-classically-trained percussionists. Premiered October 1993, Museum of Fine Arts, Bordeaux, France. ARTICLES Lewis, George E. 2013. "Critical Responses to 'Theorizing Improvisation (Musically)." Music Theory Online 19, no. 2. Available at http://mtosmt.org/issues/mto.13.19.2/mto.13.19.2.lewis.php. Lewis, George E. "Christian Wolff: An Aesthetic of Suggestion." Liner notes to Christian Wolff: 8 Duos , New World 80734 (2 compact discs) Lewis, George E. "The Timeless Blues." In Blues for Smoke, edited by Bennett Simpson. New York and London: Prestel/Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (2012), 74-91. Lewis, George E. "In Search of Benjamin Patterson: An Improvised Journey." In Benjamin Patterson: Born in the State of FLUX/us, edited by Valerie Cassel Oliver. Houston: Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (2012), 126-137. Reprinted in Callaloo, Vol. 35, No. 4, 979-991. Lewis, George E. Review of Robert R. Faulkner and Howard Becker, 'Do You Know...?': The Jazz Repertoire in Action. Cultural Sociology, Vol. 5, No. 4 (December 2011), 559-61. Lewis, George E. "Americanist Musicology and Nomadic Noise." Journal of the American Musicological Society, Vol. 64, No. 3 (Fall 2011), pp. 691-695. Lewis, George E. When Improvisers Speak, Where Do Their Words Go?In Da Rin, Renate, ed. Silent Solos: Improvisers Speak. Cologne: Buddy's Knife, 2010, 11-13. Lewis, George E. Review of Freedom Sounds: Civil Rights Call Out to Jazz and Africa, by Ingrid Monson (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007). Journal of the Society for American Music, Vol. 3, No. 3 (2009), pp. 365-369. Lewis, George E. Interactivity and Improvisation. In Dean, Roger T., ed. The Oxford Handbook of Computer Music. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press (2009), 457-466. Lewis, George E. "Benjamin Patterson: Paper Piece." Chamber Music, September-October 2009, 107. Lewis, George E. "The Virtual Discourses of Pamela Z." In Hassan, Salah M., and Cheryl Finley, eds. Diaspora, Memory, Place: David Hammons, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Pamela Z. Munich: Prestel (2008), 266-281. Lewis, George E., "Foreword: After Afrofuturism." Journal of the Society for American Music, Volume 2, Number 2, pp. 139-153 (2008). Lewis, George E., "Improvisation and Pedagogy: Background and Focus of Inquiry." Critical Studies in Improvisation, Vol. 3, No. 2 (2008), 1-5 Lewis, George E., "Stan Douglas's Suspiria: Genealogies of Recombinant Narrativity." In Stan Douglas--Past Imperfect: Works 1986-2007. Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 42-53 (2008). Lewis, George E., "Improvising Tomorrow's Bodies: The Politics of Transduction." E-misferica, Vol. 4.2, November 2007. Available at http://www.hemi.nyu.edu/journal/4.2/eng/en42_pg_lewis.html Lewis, George E., "Mobilitas Animi: Improvising Technologies, Intending Chance." Parallax, Vol. 13, No. 4, (2007), 108-122. Lewis, George E., "Living with Creative Machines: An Improvisor Reflects." In Anna Everett and Amber J. Wallace, eds. AfroGEEKS: Beyond the Digital Divide. Santa Barbara: Center for Black Studies Research, 2007, 83-99. Lewis, George E. "Live Algorithms and the Future of Music." CT Watch Quarterly, May 2007. http://www.ctwatch.org/quarterly/ Lewis, George E. "Leroy Jenkins." Chamber Music America, Vol. 24, No. 3, June 2007, 32-34. Lewis, George E. The Virtual Discourses of Pamela Z. Journal of the Society for American Music, Vol. 1, No. 1 (2007), 57-77. Lewis, George E. Improvisation and the Orchestra: A Composer Reflects. Contemporary Music Review, Vol. 25, Nos. 5/6, October/December 2006, pp. 429-434. Lewis, George E. Interview with Amina Claudine Myers. BOMB, No. 97, Fall 2006, 54-59. Lewis, George E.. The Secret Love between Interactivity and Improvisation, or Missing in Interaction: A Prehistory of Computer Interactivity. In Fahndrich, Walter, ed. Improvisation V: 14 Beitrage. Winterthur: Amadeus (2005). Lewis, George E. Book review, Northern Sun, Southern Moon: Europe's Reinvention of Jazz (Mike Heffley, Yale University Press 2005). Current Musicology, No. 78 (Fall 2004), 7-21. Lewis, George E. 2004. The AACM In Paris. Black Renaissance Noire, Vol. 5, No. 3, Spring/Summer 2004, 105-121. Lewis, George E. 2004. Gittin' to Know Y'all: Improvised Music, Interculturalism and the Racial Imagination. Critical Studies in Improvisation (peer-reviewed online journal), Vol. 1, No. 1, ISSN 1712-0624, www.criticalimprov.com. Lewis, George E. 2004. Leben mit kreativen Maschinen: Reflexionen eines improvisierenden Musikers. In Knauer, Wolfram, ed. Improvisieren: Darmstadter Beitrage zur Jazzforschung, Band 8. Hofheim: Wolke Verlag, 123-144. Lewis, George E. ( 2004). Improvised Music After 1950: Afrological and Eurological Perspectives. In Fischlin, Daniel, and Ajay Heble, eds. The Other Side of Nowhere: Jazz, Improvisation, and Communities in Dialogue. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 131-162. Lewis, George. 2004. Afterword to "Improvised Music After 1950": The Changing Same. In Fischlin, Daniel, and Ajay Heble, eds. The Other Side of Nowhere: Jazz, Improvisation, and Communities in Dialogue. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 163-172. Lewis, George, "Gittin' to know y'all: Von improvisierter Musik, vom Treffen der Kulturen und von der 'racial imagination.'" In Knauer. Wolfram, ed. Jazz und Gesellschaft: Sozialgeschichtliche Aspekte des Jazz. Hofheim: Wolke-Verlag (2002), 213-247. Lewis, George, "Experimental Music in Black and White: The AACM in New York, 1970-1985." Current Musicology, Nos. 71-73, Spring 2001-Spring 2002, 100-157. Reprinted in O'Meally, Robert G., Brent Hayes Edwards, and Farah Jasmine Griffin, eds. 2004. Uptown Conversation: The New Jazz Studies. New York: Columbia University Press, 50-101. Lewis, George, "Discours virtuel" (in French). Champs Culturel 11, June 2000. Lewis, George E., "Too Many Notes: Computers, complexity and culture in Voyager." Leonardo Music Journal 10, 2000, 33-39. Reprinted in Everett, Anna, and John T. Caldwell, eds. 2003. New Media: Theories and Practices of Intertextuality. New York and London: Routledge, 93-106 Lewis, George, "Stan Douglas: Hors-champs, toujours et pour toujours." In Jenny Lion, ed. 2000. Magnetic North: Canadian Experimental Video. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Lewis, George, "Purposive Patterning: Jeff Donaldson, Muhal Richard Abrams and the Multidominance of Consciousness." Lenox Avenue, vol. 5, 1999, 63-69. Lewis, George, "Interacting with latter-day musical automata." Contemporary Music Review, Volume 18, Part 3, 1999, pp.99-112. Lewis, George, "Teaching Improvised Music: An Ethnographic Memoir." In Zorn, John, ed. Arcana: Musicians on music. New York: Granary Books (2000), 78-109. Lewis, George, "The old people speak of sound: Personality, empathy, community." In INSITE 97: Private time in public spaces. Sally Yard, ed. 1998. San Diego: Installation Gallery. Lewis, George, "Singing Omar's Song: A (re)construction of Great Black Music." Lenox Avenue, vol. 4, 1998, 69-92 Lewis, George, "Improvised Music After 1950: Afrological and Eurological Perspectives." Black Music Research Journal, vol. 16, No.1, Spring 1996, 91-122. Reprinted in Vol. 22, Supplement (2002) for the journal's 20th Anniversary, as one of the twenty-one most cited articles published in the journal. Excerpted in Cox, Christoph, and Daniel Warner. 2004. Audio Culture: Readings In Modern Music. New York: Contiuum, 272-286. Lewis, George, "Singing the alternative interactivity blues." Front, Vol. 7, No. 2, November/December 1995, pp. 18-22. Reprinted in Grantmakers in the Arts, Vol. 8, No, 1, Spring 1997. RECORDINGS Lewis, George. Les Exercices Spirituels, Tzadik, 2011. Lewis, George, and Marina Rosenfeld, Sour Mash, Innova Recordings, 2009. Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra and George Lewis: Metamorphic Rock (Iorram, 2009) Lewis, George, and Joelle Leandre, Transatlantic Visions, Rogue Art, 2009. Lewis, George, Roscoe Mitchell, and Muhal Richard Abrams. Streaming. PI Recordings, 2006. Lev Manovich and Andreas Kratky, Soft Cinema: Navigating the Database. DVD-video with 40 page color booklet, with "invited contributions from leaders in other cultural fields: DJ Spooky, Scanner, George Lewis and Johann Johannsson (music), servo and Andreas Angelidakis (architecture), Schoenerwissen/Office for Computational Design (data visualization), and Ross Cooper Studios (media design)." Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005 Various Artists: From the Kitchen Archives: New Music New York 1979. Orange Mountain Music OMM 0015, 2004 Lewis, George, et al. Audiology: Live In Berlin, Total Music Meeting 2001, ALL 002, 2002 Lewis, George. The Shadowgraph Series: Compositions for Creative Orchestra (with the NOW Orchestra). Spool, 2001 Lewis, George. Endless Shout. Tzadik, 2000. Lewis, George and Bertram Turetzky. Conversations. Incus, 1999. Lewis, George, and Miya Masaoka. The Usual Turmoil. Music and Arts, 1998. Lewis, George, Vinny Golia, and Bertram Turetzky, Triangulations, Nine Winds, 1997. Iyer, Vijay: Memorophilia. Asian Improv Records, 1995. Slideride (Ray Anderson, Craig Harris, G. Lewis, Gary Valente) Hat Hut, 1995 Braxton, Anthony: Concert In Dortmund. hat Art, 1994 Lewis, George, and Anthony Braxton. Donaueschingen (Duo) Hat Hut, 1994. Lewis, George. Voyager, Disk Union, Tokyo, 1993 Lewis, George. Changing With The Times, New World, New York, 1992 Teitelbaum, Richard: Cyberband. Moers Music 03000 CD, 1993 Globe Unity Orchestra: 20th Anniversary. FMP, 1993. COURSES AT COLUMBIA UNDERGRADUATE COURSES Humanities W1123, Masterpieces of Western Music Music V2015, Music In The United States Music V3248, Interactive Music Composition Music V3158, Music, Race, and Nation Music V3163, Sonic Texts of the Black Atlantic Music V3165, Jazz and Improvised Music After 1950 Music V3172, 20th Century Music Music W4540, Histories of Jazz After 1960 GRADUATE COURSES Music G4601, Musical Interactivity Music G6105, Proseminar in Historical Musicology Music G6379, Music Since 1900 Music G8112, Seminar in Historical Musicology: Discourses of Experimentalism Music G8231, Seminar in Music Composition Music G8142, Seminar in Historical Musicology: Theorizing Improvisation Music G8160, Sound Art and New Media
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