Ultrasounds: Paul Dresher

Ultrasounds: Paul Dresher

Works Performed or Excerpted:

1.       “Dark Blue Circumstance” – Paul Dresher on guitar and electronics

2.        “Underground” – Paul Dresher on electronics

3.       “Pygmy Vocal Music from As Are Will Be” – Paul Dresher on guitar, electronics and tape processing, Gene Reffkin on drums, and Rinde Eckert, voice


Paul Dresher


Paul Dresher is an internationally active composer noted for his ability to integrate diverse musical influences into his own personal style. He pursues many forms of 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. As an experienced collaborator with artists from all performing disciplines, he also has been actively involved as a producer in the realization of collaboratively-created opera, music theater and new media projects. 

A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2006-07, he has received commissions from the Library of Congress, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Spoleto Festival USA, the Kronos Quartet, the San Francisco Symphony, California EAR Unit, Zeitgeist, San Francisco Ballet, Meet the Composer, Seattle Chamber Players, Present Music and Chamber Music America. He has performed or had his works performed throughout North America, Asia, and Europe at venues including New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Sinfonietta, Lincoln Center, the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, the Festival d’Automne in Paris, the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, CBC Vancouver Radio Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera, Arts Summit Indonesia ’95 and Festival Interlink in Japan.

Dresher has created new works in collaboration with such directors as Robert Woodruff, Rinde Eckert, Tony Taccone, Richard E.T. White, Les Waters, and Chen Shi Zheng. Dresher has also worked extensively with many choreographers including Margaret Jenkins, Brenda Way/ODC San Francisco, Nancy Karp, Wendy Rogers, and Allyson Green.

Recent performances include the December 2009 performance of his invented instrument work Glimpsed From Afar on two programs with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Disney Hall. In March of 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 and with a libretto by Jim Lewis, premiered in five performances at Opera Cleveland and has now been produced in eight other US cities.

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. 


Paul Dresher on the Experimental Intermedia Series


It was a real honor to perform at Experimental Intermedia, as it was relatively early in my professional career, and for many years I knew the venue as one of the most important places to hear experimental music and performance. I first encountered Phill Niblock’s work and heard about Experimental Intermedia when I was in graduate school at UC San Diego. Since the early 80s, whenever I was in New York, I regularly attended the concerts there and these exposed me to the work of my colleagues both young and more established.

As I had been a big fan of Carl Stone’s work since I first heard his score for an experimental film by my friend Adam Beckett (The Evolution of the Red Star) back at Cal Arts in 1973, it was a pleasure to share a program with him. (Carl is still a great friend and has become an even more fabulous composer/performer). To the community of contemporary music, particularly the “downtown” portion of that community, Experimental Intermedia’s multi-decades of production has made an essential and profound contribution to its grown and evolution – Paul Dresher 2011



Paul Dresher in DRAM


More about Paul Dresher


www. dresherensemble.org