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Paul Dresher

About this Artist

PAUL DRESHER is an internationally active composer noted for his ability to integrate diverse musical influences into his own coherent and unique personal style. He pursues many forms of musical expression including experimental opera and music theater, chamber and orchestral composition, live instrumental electro-acoustic music performances, musical instrument invention, and scores for theater, dance, and film.

A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2006/07, he has received commissions from the Library of Congress, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Spoleto Festival USA, the Kronos Quartet, the San Francisco Symphony, California EAR Unit, Zeitgeist, San Francisco Ballet, Walker Arts Center, Seattle Chamber Players, Present Music, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Chamber Music America, National Flute Association, and the American Music Theater Festival. He has performed or had his works performed throughout the world at venues including the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, the Festival d’Automne in Paris, the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, and the Minnesota Opera.

In March 2009 at Stanford University, Dresher premiered Schick Machine, a music theater work performed on a set comprised entirely of invented musical instruments/sound sculptures and created in collaboration with writer/director Rinde Eckert, percussionist/performer Steven Schick, and mechanical sound artist Matt Heckert. In April 2008, the San Francisco Ballet premiered Dresher’s orchestral score for Thread, his collaboration with choreographer Margaret Jenkins, commissioned for the Ballet’s 75th anniversary. In May 2006, Dresher’s chamber solo chamber opera The Tyrant, for tenor John Duykers, premiered in five performances at Opera Cleveland and has now been produced in nine cities.

Other recently completed projects include the acclaimed score for the Berkeley Repertory Theater’s premiere production of To the Lighthouse, an adaption of Virginia Woolf’s novel by playwright Adele Shank and directed by Les Waters, and Snow in June, a collaboration with playwright Charles Mee and director Chen Shi-Zheng. In November 2004, his contemporary chamber group, the six-member Paul Dresher Ensemble Electro-Acoustic Band, made its Carnegie Hall debut, performing a concert of Dresher’s chamber works as part of the “In Your Ear Festival” curated by John Adams.

Born in Los Angeles in 1951, Dresher received his B.A. in Music from U.C. Berkeley and his M.A. in Composition from U.C. San Diego, where he studied with Robert Erickson, Roger Reynolds, Pauline Oliveros, and Bernard Rands. He has had a longtime interest in the music of Asia and Africa, studying Ghanaian drumming with C.K. and Kobla Ladzekpo, Hindustani classical music with Nikhil Banerjee, as well as Balinese and Javanese music. Recordings of his works are available on the Lovely Music, New World (with Ned Rothenberg), CRI, Music and Arts, 0.0. Discs, BMG/Catalyst, MinMax, Starkland, and New Albion labels.