Composer / Pianist  Anthony  Davis

A Conversation with Bruce Duffie


Anthony Davis (born February 20, 1951) is an internationally known composer of operatic, symphonic, choral, and chamber works. He is also known for his virtuoso performances both as a solo pianist and as the leader of the ensemble Episteme, a unique ensemble of musicians who are disciplined interpreters as well as provocative improvisers. In April 1993, Davis made his Broadway debut, composing the music for Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, directed by George C. Wolfe. His music is also heard in Kushner’s companion piece, Perestroika, which opened on Broadway in November 1993. He joined ALT's faculty as a guest mentor in the winter of 2008.

As a composer, Davis is best known for his operas. X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X, which played to sold-out houses at its premiere at the New York City Opera in 1986, was the first of a new American genre: opera on a contemporary political subject. The recording of X was released on the Gramavision label in August 1992 and received a Grammy Nomination for "Best Contemporary Classical Composition" in February 1993. "[X] has brought new life to America's conservative operatic scene," enthused Andrew Porter in The New Yorker. "It is not just a stirring and well fashioned opera -- that already is much -- but one whose music adds a new, individual voice to those previously heard in our opera houses." Davis's second opera, Under the Double Moon, a science fiction opera with an original libretto by Deborah Atherton, premiered at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis in June 1989. His third opera, Tania, with a libretto by Michael-John LaChiusa and based on the abduction of Patricia Hearst, premiered at the American Music Theater Festival in June 1992. A recording of Tania  was released in 2001 on Koch, and in November 2003, Musikwerkstaat Wien presented its European premiere. A fourth opera, Amistad, about a shipboard uprising by slaves and their subsequent trial, premiered at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in November 1997. Set to a libretto by poet Thulani Davis, the librettist of X, Amistad was staged by George C. Wolfe. His most recent opera, The Central Park Five, received its critically acclaimed premiere at Long Beach Opera in 2019. The work won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2020.

Reacting to two of Davis's orchestral works, Maps (Violin Concerto) and Notes from the Underground, Michael Walsh said in Time Magazine: "Imagine Ellington's lush, massed sonorities propelled by Bartók's vigorous whiplash rhythms and overlaid with the seductive percussive haze of the Balinese gamelan orchestra, and you will have an idea of what both the Concerto and Notes from the Underground sound like." Davis's works also include the Violin Sonata, commissioned by Carnegie Hall for its Centennial; Jacob's Ladder, a tribute to Davis's mentor Jacob Druckman commissioned by the Kansas City Symphony; Esu Variations, a concert opener for the Atlanta Symphony; Happy Valley Blues, a work for the String Trio of New York with Davis on piano; and "Pale Grass and Blue, Then Red," a dance work choreographed by Ralph Lemon for the Limon Dance Company. His orchestral works have been performed by the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Orchestra of St. Luke's, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Kansas City Symphony, Beethoven Halle Orchestra of Bonn, and the American Composers Orchestra. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed Davis's opera X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X in concert in November 1992 as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival. The Pittsburgh Symphony commissioned a concert-opener from Davis entitled Tales (Tails) of the Signifying Monkey. In the 2003-2004 season Davis served as Artistic Advisor of the American Composers Orchestra's Improvise! festival and conference which featured a performance of Wayang V with Davis as piano soloist. Oakland Opera Theatre presented X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X in 2006, and Spoleto Festival USA produced Amistad in its revised and reduced form in 2008. The La Jolla Sympony premiered Amistad Symphony in 2009.

Born in Paterson, New Jersey, on 20 February 1951, Davis studied at Wesleyan and Yale universities. He was Yale's first Lustman Fellow, teaching composition and Afro-American studies. In 1987 Davis was appointed Senior Fellow with the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University, and in 1990 he returned to Yale University as Visiting Professor of Music. He became Professor of Music in Afro-American Studies at Harvard University in the fall of 1992, and assumed a full-time professorship at the University of California at San Diego in January 1998. Recordings of Davis's music may be heard on the Rykodisc (Gramavision), Koch and Music and Arts labels. His music is published by G. Schirmer, Inc.

==  Names which are links in this box and below refer to my interviews elsewhere on my website.  BD  

davis In July of 1992, Anthony Davis was in Chicago for a concert performance of X at the Third Annual Chicago Humanities Festival.  He agreed to sit down with me for a half hour, to talk about his work and ideas.  Portions of our discussion were broadcast a couple of times on WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago, and now the entire conversation has been transcribed and presented on this webpage.

Davis returned to the Windy City for a fully-staged production of Amistad at Lyric Opera in the fall of 1997.  A 2-CD recording was issued, which is shown at right.  [See my interviews with Thomas Young, Mark S. Doss, Florence Quivar, and Dennis Russell Davies.  Also, my interview with Property Master Thomas Gilbert includes his recollections of a specific scene of Amistad, and there are photos of both rehearsal and performance.]

Here is that encounter with the composer . . . . .


Bruce Duffie:   First, tell me the joys and sorrows of writing for the human voice.

Anthony Davis:   [Laughs]  I really like writing for the voice.  It took a while because I’m a pianist myself, but I felt a natural affinity to it, because I liked to try and sing things that I wrote.  I can hear the sounds of the words, and instinctively know how they should sound musically.  I really enjoy text-setting, and I really enjoy working with singers.  Every singer is different.  The whole thing of tessitura for every voice is so singular that it’s hard to make a generalization about it.  But I really enjoy the process, and I’ve learned a lot about the voice, and about how to really write effectively for the voice by writing three operas.

BD:   Now, is writing
effectively different than writing musically?

Davis:   No, I don’t think so. 
‘Effectively means effective musically’, because there’s one thing that separates me from a lot of contemporary composers, which is that I really love the voice, and I really write for the voice, and the focus of my operas is the voice.  The orchestration is very important, too, but you hear in my music that the voice really sustains a lot of the things that are going on.

BD:   Does this mean that you have abandoned the writing of piano concertos and violin concertos?

Davis:   Oh, no, not at all.  I’ve written a piano concerto, a violin concerto, and a violin sonata.  I’ve written a brass quintet, and I’ve just finished a chamber work for the Bravo! festival.  Now I’m writing another piece for a dance company this summer.  I’ll always continue to do instrumental music.  I like to do both.  Working in other forms helps me to write opera.

BD:   When you’re working on an instrumental piece, do you get an idea that would be nice in an opera, so you stick in the drawer and wait for an opportunity come along?

Davis:   That’s exactly what I try to do.  For me, writing instrumental music is almost like research.  [Laughs]  It’s like how to study for the next piece, the next opera.  A lot of times I try ideas when I write an instrumental work.  I recently did a piece called Litany of Sins that was done by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.  It was written for the chamber ensemble, and a lot of that piece I knew when I was writing it that I was working on ideas I might use in Tania.  Some of the things directly relate to it, because I was thinking about Tania at the time I was writing the piece.  It’s perfect as an instrumental work aside from Tania, but I do like the idea of the continuity between pieces.  There’s this change of ideas amongst some pieces.

BD:   There’s a continuity between this one instrumental piece and this one opera.  Is there continuity from opera to opera, and from other pieces through all of your work?

Davis:   I think so.  There is a kind of continuity because I’m always trying to expand and explore my language.  Sometimes by doing that, what I do is rediscover things, or look back at other things I have done, or work with ideas I didn’t feel I fully developed that I might develop in other works.  They might have a different expression, or something I didn’t think I was finished with.  There have been pieces of music that I’ve worked with in certain ways over ten years.  They may appear in a solo piano composition, and then reappear in a piano concerto.  They reappear again in an opera, and in a way it’s like Schumann.  These themes are characters to me, even in my instrumental music.  The ideas just become characters at some point.

BD:   Each one then presumably gets better and better?

Davis:   Presumably.  They’re different, but better and better?  Yes, I guess so.  They sort of do it on purpose.  Sometimes it varies, whether they are foreground or background in how they’re used.  When I write for the voice, I usually don’t bar anything for the melodic material for the voice.  A lot of times it has to do with the instrumental underpinnings.  They are things that are in the copying, rather than things which are in the foreground.  It’s usually some subliminal thing, or something that’s just in the background of something else that’s happening.

BD:   This is the supporting material?

Davis:   Right, exactly.  Usually, what’s in the foreground of the opera is completely unique to that opera.

BD:   Do you make sure that the important ideas are always in the foreground?

Davis:   No, not at all!  That’s part of the charm of it, because I like the idea of recalling pieces.  Sometimes that grounds it in something that’s bigger, and it might be subliminal, or it might be something that recurs, or something that has an underlying structure.  Sometimes I like using the idea of some structure that already exists, because then it has this sense of reference to it, and I can explore that and expand it.

*     *     *     *     *

davis BD:   We were talking about the voice a little bit ago.  Are you very careful to make sure that the voice is not covered by a large orchestra, or by loud orchestration?

Davis:   I’m very careful about balances.  I’ve been more and more careful about it, and particularly in my two operas I’ve written since X.  That work was more Wagnerian in terms of the interaction of the orchestra and the voice, because a lot of things that go on in the orchestra are a powerful underpinning, and the balancing is very tricky.  It’s a different constant than in my other operas.  I seldom double the voice with instrumental lines.  The melodic line is never doubled in my other operas.

BD:   The baritones are not going to get any help from the trombone or the cello?

Davis:   No, no!  A lot of it is because I was writing for a chamber orchestra in concert.  X is larger in terms of how it fits and how it’s conceived.  In the other operas, I seldom double the voice.  I would only do it for effect.  In X, I didn’t double all the time, but there are some times I did, and it works well.  It’s different, almost as if there’s the interplay within the music, and the voices are part of it.  But they’re the essential part of it.  I love writing for choruses, too, which I had the opportunity to do in X.  They are really a brilliant part of my music.

BD:   They’re more than just a Greek course?  They’re actually a part of the action?

Davis:   Definitely, and a lot of times they’re all characters.  I write for ensembles rather than a chorus, and maybe there are moments when it’s more coarse.  But a lot of times each person is a different voice.

BD:   X is perhaps your best-known work, and it’s getting the most performances, yet you’ve written a couple of operas since then.  Is it at all frustrating to have to keep coming back to this work now that you’ve grown and developed with two more operas and more instrumental works?

Davis:   No, I wouldn’t say so.  X was my introduction to people to my music.  I look at it that way.  It’s how people first respond to my music, and the first response and the first consideration I had as a serious composer came through X.  I’m very attached to it.  For me, it was a complete breakthrough when I was writing the piece.  I had never written anything on that scale, and it was a sense of discovery every day when I was writing the music.  I was discovering something new, and I’m hopeful that it will always endure in a certain way.  It’s always refreshing to see when you first try to do something.  There’s a certain energy, and it’s effective in its own terms.  So, I’m still very happy with the piece.

BD:   Did the subject matter help to inspire the greatness in the music for you?

Davis:   Definitely!  First of all, it was daunting in a way, but I felt that I had to grow as a composer and as a musician in order to approach the depth of the material.  That was really important.  It was like putting a standard out in front of you, and knowing I have to meet it!  That was very exciting.

BD:   Would you do a lot of things differently, or just a few things differently if you were approaching it for the first time today?

Davis:   I don’t know if I would do that.  I really like what I decided to do, and almost everything I try to do with the piece works.  Of course, I have a different sensibility now.  I would write it differently, but that’s why I’m supposed to write other pieces.

BD:   Now that you have written X, are you getting a lot of pressure to write an opera called King?

Davis:   I did initially.  When I wrote X, there were people who were asking me when I was going to do Martin Luther King.  To me, there wasn’t a story in his story.  The kind of conflicts and contrasts that are in the Malcolm X story, just in terms of operatic material, are not there.  I didn’t want to be stuck in a rut, in the sense of,
“What leader are you doing nextFrederick Douglas, or Martin Luther King, or Nelson Mandela, or who?  I don’t like the idea of repeating myself while trying to create something.  I wanted to strike out new territory.

BD:   Do you think that Malcolm X himself would be pleased to know that his life was being shown on the operatic stage?

Davis:   [Laughs]  I think he’d find it very amusing!  No, I hope he’d be really intrigued by the music, and the elements that are in the music, and the fact that I have assimilated a lot of the tradition of African-American music, as well as having an understanding of classical forms.  So, I think he’d be intrigued by it.

BD:   You’re answering my question in terms of the music you have written.  But would he be intrigued by being part of the whole socio-environment of the operatic stage tradition?

Davis:   I think he’d find an irony in that.  I think he’d be amused, actually.  I think he’d also be amused with Spike Lee’s film version of version of X, and seeing X on tee-shirts, and on baseball caps.  In a way, that’s just as far afield as the operatic stage in many respects.

BD:   When you put Malcolm X on the operatic stage, were you trying to draw in the white element that normally goes to opera, as well as the black element that will be intrigued by his story?

Davis:   Oh, I think so!  It’s an opera for everyone.  To me, he’s an American hero, and an American symbol.  People need to know more about him, and looking at the opera and seeing the opera, they learn something.  If there’s a parallel in terms of the merger of musical traditions, that’s implicit in the opera.

*     *     *     *     *
BD:   You’ve mentioned that you like to draw on a number of sources.  Do you then keep them separate like a salad, or do you make them into a stew so that they’re a whole new kind of thing in your music?

Davis:   I like to think there’s a whole new thing, in the sense that in a main way it’s more like a chameleon that changes color, that adapts and will appear as something, but yet it’s still the same animal.  It may appear and be camouflaged in the form of a big band or a jazz ensemble, or an improvisation, or maybe camouflaged in the form of a really operatic aria, but it’s still the same creature.

BD:   You started out as a jazz musician.  When and why did you get involved in the more ‘serious’ musical ideal?

Davis:   Why???  I always thought jazz was serious, so I never felt like I had to make that distinction.  I actually started as a classical musician.  I played classical piano until I was sixteen or seventeen, before I even started improvising or trying to play something called jazz.  Later I began to explore that, so becoming a composer of classical music is returning to my beginnings.  But I feel that jazz is an essential part of American Classical Music
if it’s going to be defined as something distinctively American.

BD:   So now all the people who are learning ‘études’ on the violin, and piano exercises, should play a little bit of jazz in their training to get them into those rhythms and harmonies?

Davis:   It would be very helpful.  They should try a Charlie Parker solo, or Thelonious Monk tune.  There’s a lot to be learned from that music.  It’s beautiful music.  Music is music, and the sooner we get over the prejudices of valuing European culture over our own, the better.

BD:   So, if you were to give a piano recital, it would have some Scarlatti, and some Bach, and some Czerny, and some Thelonious Monk, and some little Charlie Parker?

Davis:   Yes, I wish it would!  [Both laugh]  But I wouldn’t give a piano recital these days.  My piano recitals are of mostly my music, but there are musicians now who are doing recitals like that, who might do an Art Tatum transcription alongside a Charles Ives sonata.  People tell me that the Art Tatum is much more difficult to play than the Concord Sonata.

:   What do you expect of the audience that comes to hear an orchestral work, or see an opera of yours?

Davis:   Well, I don’t know.  It’s always exciting.  My music is different than a lot of other classical composers.  Audiences come with different experiences.  Some audiences are very experienced concert-goers, and others might be coming to a concert for the first time to hear my music, so it’s a different kind of obligation.  It’s really interesting to see people drawn into the music world.  For example, there were people who came to X at the (New York) City Opera who had never seen an opera before.  That was very interesting to me, because they could find different levels and different ways of responding to everything.  They got into the music from a different side, and that was very interesting.  That’s important, because a lot of times as a composer, you should think about what would happen if they haven’t heard Schoenberg, or Messiaen, or anything like that before.  You wonder what it’s like if they hear your music for the first time.

BD:   Do you expect that someone who has gone to X as their first opera will then return to the City Opera for Madama Butterfly, or La Traviata?

davis Davis:   Not necessarily.  I doubt that was true.  Some might be interested, but I find that there’s a special audience for new things, and there are people who want to hear the new works and hear the things that are on the edge.  They want things that challenge them in that way, and they also want to hear what’s going on in American forms, no matter how you define an American form.   They might not be interested in hearing a European form or European music, and that’s all right.  There are people who like to hear European music who don’t want to hear American things, and that’s all right too.  I find myself very interested.  I’ve gone to a lot of operas in the last few years to hear new things, and I had to catch up and hear Traviata and Bohème for the first time.  That was very important to me, and was part of my musical development.

BD:   Is the way you’re going on a similar path, or a completely divergent way from, say, the works of Philip Glass?

Davis:   They’re divergent in the sense that our musical styles are so different, and in a way, are different generations.  Philip has opened the door for a lot of composers, for me and for John Adams, and for other people.

BD:   I only mention him because it seems that you and he are
at the moment at leastthose who have written a number of operas, all of which have been staged, and have had a good general appeal.

Davis:   That’s true, and I respect and really admire Philip for what he’s done.  My idioms are coming from my musical background, and the things I’m interested in musically, but that’s generally true.  There’s not just one American aesthetic.  It’s
classical music, and so it has been interesting for me to deal with.  I’m curious to hear Philip’s new piece, The Voyage that he’s doing.  That’s coming out this year, and I heard the Corigliano piece.  I have also heard Adams works.  It’s an exciting time, and there are really divergent notions of opera.

BD:   Is it a good thing, especially for you, because a number of composers are now coming back into the opera house?  They seemed to have abandoned it for thirty or forty years almost totally.

Davis:   I’m not sure if they abandoned it, or if the opera  houses abandoned them!  [Both laugh]  I think it’s really more that.  Opera America and other programs have encouraged opera companies to be more exploratory with new works, and that has been very beneficial, and should be continued and encouraged.  I’m always really excited to see that something new is being done.  Now there are composers who are well-known, like Stewart Wallace and Mark Dresser, and there are other composers who are involved in opera, too.

BD:   Because you are becoming a major force in American music, not just opera, are you going to encourage performances of the older Black American composers, like Hale Smith, or T. J. Anderson?  [To see a list of the black composers and performers I have interviewed over the years, click HERE.]

Davis:   I love their music
those two in particular.  I know Hale very well.  He’s an incredible composer, and I know T. J. Anderson, too.  I haven’t done enough to encourage the performance of other generations of black composers, but thats because I haven’t really been in a position to encourage them.  Im just trying to get my own music out, and at a certain time, it’ll be important to think more about the historical perspective, and be able to present more works of other composers.  But I’m more concerned with producing my own work right now.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:   You mentioned that you don’t give piano recitals, or if you did, they’d be of your own music.  Are you the ideal interpreter of your own music?

Davis:   No, not necessarily.  I wouldn’t be necessarily the ideal interpreter.  Some of my music only I can play because it’s very improvisational.  But there are other parts of my music that are notated more precisely, and there would be other performers that might do a better accounting of it, because it’s not really my energy.  My energy isn’t as a performer, to try to realize the perfect performance of something.  I’m more interested in creating a work that someone performs.  That has to do with whatever your mentality is, whether your mindset is to reproduce, or to produce.  That’s a different thing.  There is just an energy that comes from my performance of playing my pieces, especially the improvisation where there is a merger of compositional technique with a performance technique that I’ve been able to continue doing.
BD:   If you write a piece that has an improvisational section in it, are you not then demanding that the performer be more of a collaborator, especially if it’s not you?

Davis:   Of course, yes.  That’s implicit in that.  My relationship to the performer becomes almost as a film director to an actor.  You work with them, and you might coach them in terms of what you want.  I’ve worked a lot on some improvisational elements with strictly classical performers.  In my Violin Sonata, I have a short improvisational section that is kind of perverse in my karma, and my publisher hates it.  But I always do it.  I put some improvisation in it that they have to do.  Sometimes it’s not the most necessary thing, but it’s my own signature.  I have to have it, and I coach it, and I work with the performer, and that collaboration is really very exciting.  It is important because they get involved in the creation of the work, which is a fundamental freedom they don’t get a lot times when they perform music.

BD:   Is your improvisational section harking back to the original purpose of the cadenza?

Davis:   Sometimes it is.  In the Violin Concerto [recording shown at right], for example, there was a cadenza.  This was an improvisation that Shem Guibbory played, and in my Violin Sonata there are aspects that have that idea.  [More about Shem Guibbory in the box below.]  Mozart seldom wrote cadenzas out.  A lot of the cadenzas we have are his students’ renditions, so there has been a tradition of improvisation in classical music.  There are Liszt cadenzas that are written out, but it’s interesting, and it’s something we can develop more particularly when you look at our improvisational traditions that we have in America.

BD:   We’ve been talking about various styles of music, so let me ask the big philosophical question.  What’s the purpose of music?

Davis:   Oh, boy!  I think it’s spiritual uplifting.  It’s really communication on a spiritual level between the musician and something else.  It’s not even about direct ideas, or about entertainment.  You want to please an audience as an entertainer on one level, but the other level is an aspiration to form and to something beyond our immediate understanding.  It’s something that communes with the idea of some kind of spirit, however you want to define it.

BD:   I assume you’re always working on new pieces?

Davis:   Yes!  I have music projects in mind.

BD:   Everybody is clamoring for you to do this and that for them.  How do you decide which projects you’ll take up, and which ones you’ll set aside?

Davis:   It sort of works its way out.  I do things, and I’m right now taking a break.  I’ve been on a break for almost two weeks, and I have another week of a break, and then I’ll start working on something else again.

BD:   One last question.  Is composing fun?

Davis:   Yes, it’s really fun.  I really enjoy it.  It’s really a joyful experience.  Sometimes it’s a little painful when you’re tired and you have to do something, but I generally find it a whole sense of exploration, and discovery, and invention.  So, for me it’s really fun.

BD:   Good.  I wish you lots of continued success.

Davis:   Oh, thank you!


See my interviews with Ursula Oppens, Conlon Nancarrow, William Bolcom,
Elliott Carter, Lukas Foss, Frederic Rzewski, Charles Wuorinen, and John Harbison

Shem Guibbory - Violinist

Internationally acclaimed violinist Shem Guibbory, an award winning soloist and chamber musician, has created an important mark on the face of today’s music world as a talented performer, an artistic producer, and a successful entrepreneur. Long hailed for his interpretations of 20th Century music, his recording of Violin Phase by Steve Reich on the ECM label has become an American classic of avant-garde music.

guibbory Mr. Guibbory founded Innovative Music Programs in 2002 and has developed a series of imaginative musical programs with performers, composers and visual artists. These programs reflect his work developing an expressive performance language derived from the intrinsic unity of the Arts.

“By nature and by choice, I look for the commonality in all things musical and artistic in our culture and all cultures,” he says. “Those things that tie us together as human beings are part of the driving force in my creative process. I believe that Art has a potency that is as just as relevant to today’s societies as ever before.”

Throughout his career, Mr. Guibbory has sought out and found imaginative ways to use new and old music to bring mutual understanding to the global community. With co-creator and director Margaret Booker and writer Robert Schenkkan, he created the musical fable A Night at the Alhambra Café (2002-2008).

Mr. Guibbory’s current work includes the music programs Journey of 100, Evolution of a 21st Century Violinist, and Memories and Reflections (Enesco and Laytin). He is also developing a new performance work featuring Russian/American artist Grisha Bruskin and Irish/American painter Timothy Hawkesworth entitled Accidental Heroes.

His latest CD, Voice of the People (2010), received excellent reviews;. It combines Gabriela Lena Frank’s Peruvian-influenced music with Dimitri Shostokovich’s Sonata For Violin And Piano, Op.137 (1968), and “it illustrates people’s attempt to find their own slice of humanity within the chaos of life…I believe that when we communicate with people through their arts, it’s far easier to understand them.”

Since 1992, Mr. Guibbory has been a member of the first violin section of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and has appeared as soloist with the New York Philharmonic, the Beethoven Halle Orchestra, the Kansas City Symphony and the Symphony of the New World. He was the original violinist in the Steve Reich Ensemble and has performed recitals and chamber music throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. He has also recorded five CDs with Anthony Davis, including Maps, a violin concerto commissioned by the Kansas City Symphony, and released on Gramavision.

Mr. Guibbory has received fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation (Bellagio), the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Spain’s Centre por Ars y Natura. He has been a faculty member of the Bennington Chamber Music Conference for over three decades, during which time he served as Music Director for nine consecutive years. As Music Director he has twice been honored with the ASCAP/CMA Award for Adventurous Programming.

Close associates have included such extraordinary composers as Steve Reich, Ornette Coleman, Muhal Richard Abrams, Douglas Cuomo, Jeffrey Levine, Earl Howard, and Anthony Davis. He has premiered over 60 new compositions, of which 30 were written expressly for him. Additionally, he has collaborated with numerous dance companies, has served as co- director of NovEnsemble with choreographer Joan Lombardi, and toured with Belgian choreographer Anne-Theresa de Keersmaker. He was one of the lead artistic producers of West Goes East, a 30-year retrospective of CalArts alumni performances, which sold out its four New York City performances.

A graduate of the California Institute of the Arts, he has served as co-chair of the Special Projects Committee of the CalArts Alumni Association (2005-2009) and beginning in 2011 serves on the Board of Directors of the Recording Musicians’ Association, NY Chapter.

Mr. Guibbory made his recital debut at New York City’s Alice Tully Hall in 1988. His recordings can be found on the ECM, Gramavision, Opus 1, DG, Albany, Bridge, MSR Classics and CRI labels. His principal Violin teachers were Broadus Erle, Romuald Tecco, Evelyn Read and Sophie Feuermann.

© 1992 Bruce Duffie

This conversation was recorded in Chicago on July 17, 1992.  Portions were broadcast on WNIB about four months later, and again in 1996.  This transcription was made in 2021, and posted on this website at that time.  My thanks to British soprano Una Barry for her help in preparing this website presentation.

To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.  To read my thoughts on editing these interviews for print, as well as a few other interesting observations, click here.

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Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001.  His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.

You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests.  He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago.  You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.