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Gordon Mumma

March 30, 1935 -
born in Framingham, MA, composed during the Contemporary period
An avant-garde composer who has worked in a variety of contexts with many of the late twentieth century's most prominent musicians and creative artists, Mumma is particularly associated with the development of music as it relates to modern technology. In 1958, he co-founded (with Robert Ashley) Ann Arbor's Cooperative Studio for Electronic Music; later, he helped to invent a new theatrical art based in part on projected images which eventually came to be known as "Space Theatre." Mumma began his musical life with private studies on horn, piano, and composition. From 1952-3, he attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Mumma attended the Institute of Science and Technology at the University from 1959-62, and served there as a research associate (in acoustics and seismics) from 1962-3. He maintained an involvement with the Cooperative Studio and, from 1960-6, directed the ONCE Festival of Contemporary Music. Mumma moved to New York in 1966. From 1966-74 he was -- with John Cage and David Tudor -- one of three composer-musicians to regularly collaborate with choreographer Merce Cunningham. Also from 1966, he performed with the Sonic Arts Union, whose members also included Tudor, Ashley, David Behrman, and Alvin Lucier. Mumma's career in academia has found him on the faculties of several major universities in the U.S. and abroad, including the famed Ferienkurse für Neue Musik in Darmstadt, Germany. From 1975-94, he was on the faculty of the University of California, Santa Cruz. Over the years Mumma has composed for acoustic instruments in various configurations (mostly solo piano and chamber ensembles), and for electronic and computer resources. In addition to his activities within the mainstream of new music, he's also worked with such varied artists as free jazz composer Anthony Braxton, electric guitarist Fred Frith, conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp, and painter Jasper Johns. Mumma has also toured widely and written extensively on music and technology. ~ Chris Kelsey, Rovi
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