Meet Cindy Cox

Cindy Cox — Photo by Kathleen Karn
Friday, ASQ will be at a “Meet the Composer” event at Santa Rosa Junior College to preview the world premiere (4/13/12) of composer Cindy Cox’s new string quartet Patagón, so today we’re excited to introduce you to this wonderful composer

Radical, traditional, original, archetypal, Cindy Cox (b.1961) derives her “post-tonal” musical language from acoustics, innovations in technology, harmonic resonance, and poetic allusion. Naturally unfolding through linked strands of association, timbral fluctuation, and cyclic temporal processes, her compositions synthesize old and new musical designs.

As Robert Carl notes in Fanfare, “Cox writes music that demonstrates an extremely refined and imaginative sense of instrumental color and texture…This is well-wrought, imaginative, and not easily classifiable music.” Her work, always engaged with novel approaches to sound and instrumental color, combines with formality “to yield great depth of meaning and a playful appeal” (NewMusicBox, American Music Center). In the San Francisco Chronicle, Joshua Kosman writes “as always with Cox’s work, there’s a layer of ingratiating charm that makes the music a delight to listen to”.

Cindy Cox’s music is noted for its special harmonies and textural colorations, such as the recently premiered Eco Ensemble piece Transfigurations of Grief and the piano trio la mar amarga. Many of her works play on themes of nature and natural landscapes, from her early orchestral Cathedral Spires (performed by Leonard Slatkin and the National Symphony) to her very recent Cañon (premiered by the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra). Her pieces also frequently make use of technology and interactive electronics, as in The Shape of the Shell for bass clarinettist Laura Carmichael, and Nature is for the Continental Trombone Quartet, both created at the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT) at UC Berkeley.

Cox is also very active as a pianist, with many of her compositions for solo piano. She has performed and recorded her Sylvan pieces, her Hierosgamos: Seven Studies in Harmony and Resonance, and The Blackbird whistling/Or just after. The newer texted works, such as Singing the lines (recently premiered by Lucy Shelton and the Berkeley Contemporary Chamber Players), The Other Side of the World (recorded by both Laurel Zucker and Nina Assimakopolous), and Hysteria (premiered and recorded by Abbie Conant) evolved through collaboration with her husband, poet John Campion.

She has received awards and commissions from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Fromm Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Composers Forum, ASCAP, Meet the Composer, and the Gemeinschaft der Kunstlerinnen und Kunstfreunde International Competition for Women Composers. She has been a Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, the Aspen Music Festival, the MacDowell Colony, and the Civitella Ranieri and William Walton Foundations in Italy.

Recent performances have taken place at the Festival di Musica Contemporanea at the American Academy in Rome (Four Studies of Light and Dark), the Festival Architecture et Musique in Angers, France (The Other Side of the World), the Kosmos Frauenraum in Vienna (Hysteria, filmed for Austrian National Television), Münster Gesellschaft für Neue Musik, the Bibliotecha National in Buenos Aires (Transfigurations of Grief), the Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn (Hierosgamos), the REDCAT/Cal Arts Theater in Los Angeles (Hysteria), Carnegie and Merkin Halls in New York City (Hierosgamos and The Blackbird whistling/Or just after), the National Gallery in Washington (Hierosgamos), the Library of Congress (Into the Wild), the Kennedy Center (Cathedral Spires), the Los Angeles Philharmonic Green Umbrella series (Primary Colors), and by notable ensembles such as the Kronos Quartet, the American Composers Orchestra, the National Symphony, the California Symphony, the Alexander Quartet, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Women’s Philharmonic, Composers’ Inc, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, and the Earplay Ensemble.

A new full length recording, la mar amarga: music of Cindy Cox on the Albany Records label features the piano trio la mar amarga, the duo for amplified harpsichord and prepared piano Playing a round, and the large piano cycle Sylvan pieces (performed by the composer). She has two other complete CDs of her solo and chamber music, Columba aspexit on New World (formerly CRI) and Nature is on Albany Records. She is also recorded on Capstone, Arpa Viva, Inflorescence, Mark, and Valve-Heartz of Cologne labels. Her scores are published through World a Tuning Fork Press (www.worldatuningfork.com).

Cox earned her doctorate in 1992 from Indiana University, studying composition with Harvey Sollberger, Donald Erb, Eugene O’Brien, and John Eaton. She had additional studies with John Harbison at the Tanglewood Music Center, and Bernard Rands and Jacob Druckman at the Aspen Music Festival. As a pianist she studied with the famed Mozart and Schubert specialist Lili Kraus. Cindy Cox is presently a Professor at the University of California at Berkeley, and holds the Jerry and Evelyn Chambers Chair in music.

Find out more about Cindy on her website at CaCox.com!

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