Zeena Parkins

Zeena Parkins

Fellow: Awarded 2019
Field of Study: Music Composition

Competition: US & Canada

New York based electro-acoustic composer/improviser Zeena Parkins is a pioneer of contemporary harp practices. Through the use of expanded playing techniques, object preparations, and electronic processing she has re-defined the instrument’s capacities. Concurrently, Parkins self-designed a series of one-of-a kind electric instruments. She leans into the harp’s physical limitations pushing into its boundaries and impossibilities. In her compositions, Parkins utilizes collections, recombination, historic proximities, geography, tactility, and movement. Sonic presence and personality is revealed in feedback, overtones, timbral shifts, gestural intervals, perception, and residues.

Awards include: The Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, DAAD Artist Fellowship, Foundation for Contemporary Arts “Grants to Artists” Award, Multi-Arts Production Fund, NYFA Fellowship for Composers, Meet the Composer, Atlantic Center for the Arts Master Artist-in-Residence, Herb Alpert/Ucross Prize, The Shifting Award, and three Bessies for her groundbreaking work with dance. Parkins has also been supported by American Music Center, Peter S. Reed Fellowship, and Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust.

Parkins has also been awarded residencies at Civitella Ranieri in Umbria, Italy, The Ruskin School at Oxford University in Cambridge, Wooda Arts Residency in England, PAF (France), STEIM (Amsterdam), RPI/IEAR (Troy), Harvestworks, the Watermill Center, and the Centre for Dance and Choreography in Montpellier.

Parkins’ compositions have been commissioned by the Whitney Museum, the Tate Modern, Sharjah Art Foundation in UAE, NeXtWorks Ensemble, Either/Or Ensemble/Ensemble Son, Donaueschinger Musiktage, Sudwestrundfunk2, Montalvo Art Center, and Bang on a Can. Parkins long-standing collaborations with choreographers has produced scores for Merce Cunningham Company, Jennifer Monson/ILand, Neil Greenberg Dance, John Jasperse/Thin Man Dance, Dd Dorvillier/Human Future Dance Corp, Jennifer Lacey/Mega Gloss, Heather Kravas, Body Cartography Project, among others. She has provided film scores for Daria Martin, Cynthia Madansky, Abigail Child, Mandy MacIntosh, and Isabelle Rosellini.

Performances at various locations include: The Whitney Museum, The Kitchen, MoMA, PS 1-MoMA, Issue Project Room, Radio City Music Hall, Merkin Hall, Zankel Hall, Performa, The Stone, Roulette, Symphony Space, David Lewis Gallery, The Clocktower Gallery, The Serpentine Gallery (London), Café Oto (London), Dorothy Chandler Hall (LA), Hollywood Bowl (LA), Red Cat (LA), The Walker Arts Center (Minneapolis), Yeurba Beuna (SF), SFMOMA (SF), Berkeley Arts Museum (Berkeley), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Serralves Museum Foundation (Porto), Seibu Department Store (Tokyo) Fuji Rock Festival, Berlin Festspiele Haus (Berlin), among others.

Parkins has recorded six solo harp records on various labels, including Table of the Elements, Atavistic Records and Good Child Music. Her compositions and band projects are released by Avant, Tzadik, Editions Mego, Homestead, Victo, One Little Indian, and RecRec. Recent records include, Captiva, a solo harp project on Good Child Music and MZM with Miya Masaoka and Myra Melford on Infrequent Seams. Case Study Records, Parkins’ own imprint issued Green Dome Thinking in Stitches, with Ryan Sawyer and Ryan Ross Smith, the second project on the label.

Parkins served as professor in the Sound Arts Department at SMFA in Boston for two years and has taught in the undergraduate program at Bard College. She has been invited to give talks at the Ruskin School/Oxford, Princeton University, Pomona College, Columbia University and has lead improvisation workshops in several festivals including Counterpulse in Glasgow, Météo in Mulhouse, and will be improvisor in residence at the Klangspuren Festiva/Austrial in 2019. Parkins has been a professor in the Music Department at Mills College in Oakland, California since 2011.

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