Elliott Sharp

Elliott Sharp

Fellow: Awarded 2014
Field of Study: Music Composition

Competition: US & Canada

Composer/performer/sound artist Elliott Sharp has pioneered ways of applying fractal geometry, chaos theory, and genetics to musical composition and interaction.  He leads the projects SysOrk, Orchestra Carbon, Terraplane, and Tectonics.  Compositional strategies range from highly detailed through-composed scores to conceptual, algorithmic, and graphic approaches.  Improvisation is an important element in his own live performances and these projects range from solo guitar to jazz and blues bands to large ensembles.  Sharp derives inspiration from natural forms and processes, from mathematics, and from literature and philosophy.

SysOrk, a thirteen-member ensemble dedicated to performing his algorithmic and graphic scores, was recently debuted at Roulette in New York City with the premiere of Sylva Sylvarum.  He is currently developing the opera Port Bou, which will receive its premiere at Issue Project Room in November 2014.   Premieres in 2013 include Storm of the Eye composed for violin virtuoso Hilary Hahn, and two new string quartets: Tranzience for JACK Quartet and Mare Undarum for Sirius Quartet.   His Turing Test for the Neue Vocalsölisten Stuttgart premiered at the Venice Biennale October 2012 and Oneirika for the ensemble Zeitkratzer at the 2012 MaerzMusik Berlin.  In 2010, Sharp directed, wrote, and composed About Us, a science-fiction opera for all-teenage performers at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich.

Sharp has been featured at numerous international festivals, including the Venice Biennale, New Music Stockholm, Donaueschingen Festival, Darmstadt Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, Witten Festival, Saalfelden and Willisau jazz festivals, Tomorrow Festival-Shenzhen, and Au Printemps.   He is the subject of a recent documentary film Doing The Don’t by Bert Shapiro and was featured on NPR All Things Considered in October 2012.

His audio installations include Fluvial, a computerized multichannel audiowork; Chromatine, an interactive string sculpture;  Tag, an interactive audiowork; and Distressed Vivaldi, a sound installation. His 2012 graphic score Foliage has been published both as an eBook and as a print exhibition.  The latest graphic score, Sylva Sylvarum, is in the form of a forty-minute movie that serves as both the music for the performers and the visual focus.

He received the 2015 Berlin Prize in Musical Composition from the American Academy and the Preis der Deutscher Schallplatten Kritiks in 2008 for  Solo in Dachau, and in 2004 for Racing Hearts/Calling/Tessalation Row.  In 2009, Sharp was a Master Resident at the Atlantic Center for the Arts.

Profile photograph by Andreas Sterzing

E# Ir/rational music: a tumblr site presenting discussion of projects and tour reports

E# Interview on Roulette TV

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