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Theo Bleckmann

b. 1964, Dortmund, Germany. In his youth Bleckmann became a junior ice dancing champion before turning to singing as a career. After encountering Sheila Jordan at a workshop at the university in Graz, Austria, he decided to move to New York. This was in 1989 and from then onwards Bleckmann became a popular presence, especially in the contemporary jazz and improvised music scenes. He recorded with Jordan on her 1998 album Jazz Child, and sang with many others, including Anthony Braxton, Steve Coleman, Dave Douglas and Philip Glass, and also appeared with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Bleckmann also became a regular collaborator with the Bang On A Can All-Stars. From the mid-90s, he has been linked closely with multi-media artist Meredith Monk, percussionist-composer John Hollenbeck, with whom he works in duo, and pianist-composer Kirk Nurock.

Unusually for a singer, Bleckmann has drawn the attention of numerous composers who have written especially for him. These composers include Mark Dresser, Ben Monder, Denman Maroney, Bob Ostertag and Eric Salzman. He also performs works by Charles Ives and Kurt Weill. Bleckmann also composes himself and among his works is Fidget, by Kenneth Goldsmith, which Bleckmann scored for voice, piano, percussion, bass, video and three sewing machines. During performances of this piece, Bleckmann’s libretto was turned by seamstresses into a paper suit.

Bleckmann has also recorded with the German band, Zsazsabuschkov on their 1993 Traumton Records release, Wersteht Still, and has worked with performance artist Lynn Book on Mercuria, for the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. With Salzman he co-created the opera, The True Last Words Of Dutch Schultz, in which he sang the title role. Bleckmann has also performed improvisations on some feature film soundtracks, among them Men In Black and Kundun (both 1997). In the early 00s, Bleckmann composed the music for and performed a solo show, The Alexandria Carry On, with which he toured the USA.
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