|Roger Reynolds was born on
18 July 1934 in Detroit, Michigan. He was
educated in music and science at the University of Michigan, when he
co-founded the ONCE Festivals. His aesthetic outlook was jointly shaped
by the American Experimental tradition and - through his teachers Ross
Lee Finney and Roberto Gerhard - also by the Second Viennese School.
Reynolds refuses categorization, responding to the variety of the
contemporary world with a uniquely diversified output - music now
increasingly concerned with myth, text and space-ranging from the
purely instrumental and vocal to involvements with computers, video,
dance and theater. His multicontinental career - in Europe, South
America, Asia, and the Nordic countries, as well as the United States -
centers on composing, but includes writing, lecturing, organizing
musical events, and teaching. Reynolds has been honored by the
prestigious Pulitzer Prize and the National Institute of Arts and
Letters, and by commissions from the British Arts Council, Radio
France, the BBC, the Suntory and Koussevitzky foundations, and the
National Endowment for the Arts. He is a member of the faculty at the
University of California, San Diego, where he was the founding director
of the Center for Music Experiment (now CRCA). Writing in The New
Andrew Porter called him "at once an explorer and a visionary composer,
whose works can lead listeners to follow him into new regions of
emotion and imagination." [See Bruce Duffie's Interview with Andrew
More information, photos, videos, recent premiers, thoughts, etc., can be found on his official website.
Roger Reynolds was educated in music and science at the University of Michigan. His compositions incorporate elements of theater, digital signal processing, dance, video, and real-time computer spatialization, in a signature multidimensionality of engagement. The central thread woven through Reynolds' uniquely varied career entwines language with the spatial aspects of music. This center first emerged in his notorious music-theater work, The Emperor of Ice Cream (1961-62; 8 singers, 3 instrumentalists; text: Wallace Stevens), and is carried forward in the VOICESPACE series (quadraphonic tape compositions on texts by Coleridge, Beckett, Borges and others), Odyssey (an unstaged opera for 2 singers, 2 recitants, large ensemble, multichannel computer sound; bilingual text: Beckett), and JUSTICE (1999; soprano, actress, percussionist, computer sound and real-time spatialization, with staging; text: Aeschylus).
In addition to his composing, Reynolds' writing, lecturing, organization of musical events and teaching have prompted numerous residencies at international festivals. He was a co-director of the New York Philharmonic's Horizons '84, has been a frequent participant in the Warsaw Autumn festivals, and was commissioned by Toru Takemitsu to create a program for the Suntory Hall International Series. Reynolds' regular masterclass activity in American universities also extends outward: to the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Ircam in Paris, the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, to Latin America and Asia, to Thessaloniki. His extensive orchestral catalog includes commissions from the Philadelphia, Los Angeles and BBC Orchestras.
In 1988, perplexed by a John Ashbery poem, Reynolds responded with Whispers Out of Time, a string orchestra work which earned him the prestigious Pulitzer Prize. Critic Kyle Gann has noted that he was the first experimentalist to be so honored since Charles Ives. Reynolds' writing -- beginning with the influential book, MIND MODELS (1975), and continuing, most recently, with FORM AND METHOD: Composing Music
In 1998, Mode Records released WATERSHED, the first DVD in Dolby Digital 5.1 to feature music composed expressly for a multichannel medium. "As in all art making, there is a kind of 'alchemy' going on [producing] a richly nuanced and authentic result," wrote Richard Zvonar in Surround Professional. In the same year, The Library of Congress established the Roger Reynolds Special Collection. Writing in The New Yorker, Andrew Porter called him "at once an explorer and a visionary composer, whose works can lead listeners to follow him into new regions of emotion and meaning." (2002) Reynolds has also appeared widely in Asian, American and European journals. Reynolds' music, recorded on Auvidis/Montaigne, Lovely, New World, Pogus, and Neuma, among others, is published exclusively by C.F. Peters Corporation, New York.
This interview was recorded in Chicago on December 12,
Portions (along with recordings)
were used on WNIB in 1994 and 1999. A copy of the unedited audio
was placed in the Archive of
Contemporary Music at Northwestern
made and posted on this
website in 2010.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
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.