Rooted in 20th century experimental music, John King has written media operas for full orchestras and voice, instrumental solos, string quartets, and mixed chamber works with live electronics. Neither 'sampling' nor 'quoting,' King draws from both classical and vernacular music traditions, synthesizing the conceptual with the avant-garde. He's been commissioned by Kronos and Ethel, as well as by choreographers, from the Merce Cunningham Dance Company to the Stuttgart Ballet. King has also composed an hour-long suite of pieces for what he calls his Extreme Guitar Orchestra, which has been performed throughout Europe and across America. Underneath his plasticity lays a singular ethos: King celebrates the ineluctable mutability of the audible. His music, often structurally open, braids the written with the improvisational, spontaneity with indeterminacy, coalescing live and processed sound and, at times, allows performers unusual individual freedom in performance. Using the score as a temporal guidepost, a singer's voice accompanied by full orchestra in one performance could, with the structure randomly altered, be accompanied by a solo flute at another; players' heartbeats could determine multiple tempii. Whether in imaginative concert with Alain Robbe-Grillet, Stephané Mallarmé, or Bertolt Brecht, you might think of King's work as intense, visceral dialogue.

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Born 1953, Minneapolis, MN
Lives in New York City

JOHN KING, composer, violist and guitarist, has had his music presented in many major festivals, including the Melbourne International Arts festival; the T.B.A. Festival (PICA, Portland, OR); Intermedium 1 Festival (Berlin); and many Bang On A Can Marathons (NY). His new opera "Dice Thrown", based on the poem "Un Coup de Dés" by Stéphane Mallarmé, was performed in New York City Opera's VOX Festival in May, 2008. Mr. King's experimental opera, "la belle captive", based on texts by Alain Robbe-Grillet, was premiered in Buenos Aires at the Centro Experimental de Teatro Colon in April 2003, receiving further performances at the Fronteras Festival (London, Sept. 2004) and The Kitchen, NYC in Jan. 2005. His opera "Herzstück/Heartpiece", with text by Heiner Müller, was premiered at the Warsaw Autumn Festival in 1999.

His commissions and collaborations include those for the Kronos Quartet; Red {an orchestra}, Ethel; Eclipse Quartet, Mondriaan Quartet, the Albany Symphony/"Dogs of Desire", The Juilliard School's "Axiom Ensemble"; Bang On A Can All-Stars; Mannheim Ballet; the Royal Danish Ballet; Rezonanz Ensemble, New York City Ballet/Diamond Project, Stuttgart Ballet, Ballets de Monte Carlo; SüdWestRundfunk (Baden-Baden), Pennsylvania Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. He has written music for the Clussgarten Theater in Ludwigsburg, Germany (Shakespeare's "Tempest", Goethe's "Faust" and Hesse's "Steppenwolf") as well as Target Margin, in NYC and the Children's Theater Company, in Mpls., MN.

Mr. King has led his "Extreme Guitar Orchestra" project (EGO) for youth and community-based theatre groups in Ghent, Belgium, Minneapolis, Portland, Orange County and Warsaw, Poland.

He has received grants from the NEA/Music in Motion, New York State Council on the Arts, Jerome Foundation, Asian Cultural Council, Meet The Composer/Readers Digest Dance Commissioning Program, Minnesota Composers Forum, the Fund for US Artists at International Festivals, and New York Foundation for the Arts.

Mr. King curated the music for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company's EVENTS at the Joyce Theater and at The Barbican Center in London and is currently co-director of the Music Committee. He was Music Curator at The Kitchen from 1999-2003.

He has 2 new CD releases; "AllSteel" (Tzadik) and "Ethel" (Cantaloupe), both featuring the string quartet Ethel performing 4 of his recent major compositions.

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