Octo Mixes

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Larry Austin (b. 1930, Oklahoma), composer, was educated in Texas and California, studying with Canadian composer Violet Archer (University of North Texas), French composer Darius Milhaud (Mills College), and American composer Andrew Imbrie (University of California-Berkeley). He also enjoyed extended associations in California in the 1960s with composers John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and David Tudor.

Since 1964, Austin has composed more than seventy works incorporating electroacoustic and computer music media: combinations of tape, instruments, voices, orchestra, live-electronics and real-time computer processing, as well as solo audio and video tape compositions. He composed his first electronic music compositions in 1964 at the American Academy in Rome electronic music studio, culminating in the spring of 1965, with Roma, a tape piece, composed on Paul Ketoff’s prototype synthesizer, the Synket. Beginning in the fall of 1965, he worked regularly in the electronic music studios of the San Francisco Tape Music Center, completing one of the first electronic music compositions on the first synthesizer Don Buchla developed for the Center, known as the Buchla Box. In the summer of 1968 he participated in the first month-long summer computer music workshop in the Artificial Intelligence Center at Stanford University led by John Chowning, Max Mathews, James Tenney, and Leland Smith; there, he composed his first computer music composition, Caritas. In 1996, Austin was awarded the prestigious Magistère de Bourges prize/title in the 23rd International Electroacoustic Music Competition, Bourges, France, for his work BluesAx (1995-96), for saxophonist and computer music/electronics, and for his work and influential leadership in electroacoustic music genres through the past four decades. Austin was the first US composer to receive the Magistère de Bourges.

Highly successful as a composer for traditional as well as experimental music genres, Austin’s works have been performed and recorded by the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, the National Symphony orchestras, as well as many other major ensembles in North America and Europe. Austin has received numerous commissions, grants, and awards, his works widely performed and recorded, including the 1994 premiere performance and recording by the Cincinnati Philharmonia of Austin’s complete realization of Charles Ives’s transcendental Universe Symphony (1911-51), that performance followed at the 1995 Warsaw Autumn Festival by the National Philharmonic of Warsaw and, in May 1998, a festival performance in Saarbrucken, Germany, by the Saarland Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester. Most recently, on May 26, 2000, Larry Austin’s complete realization of Charles Ives’s Universe Symphony, for multiple orchestras was performed by the Ensemble Neue Musik and the Academy of Music, Cologne, in the St. Maria im Kapitol Church, Cologne, presented as part of the MusikTriennale Koln. Peter Eotvos was the principal (of 5) conductor.

In the summer of 1997, Austin was Magistère de Bourges composer-in-residence at the Electroacoustic Music Studios at the University of Birmingham, UK, working on two commissions: Djuro’s Tree (1997), solo octophonic computer music, commissioned by Borik Press and a sound-play for baritone Thomas Buckner, Singing!…the music of my own time (1996-98), for baritone voice and octophonic computer music. In the summer of 1998, Austin was awarded a month-long composer residency at the Rockefeller Center at Bellagio, Italy, completing his commission from tárogató player Esther Lamneck, Tárogató! (1998), for tárogató and octophonic computer music. In February 2000, Austin was a guest research fellow in the Electroacoustic Music Studios, University of York, UK, working on a commission for the London-based Smith Quartet, completing ambisonic recordings for his recently completed Ottuplo! (1998-2000), four inter-episodes for real and virtual string quartet. In September 2000, Austin enjoyed a month-long composer residency at the International Institute for Electroacoustic Music, Bourges, France, which commissioned his newest work, Williams [re]Mix[ed] (1997-2001), for octophonic computer music system.

From 1958 to 1972 Austin was a member of the music faculty of the University of California, Davis, active there as a conductor, performer, electronic music practitioner, and composer. There, in 1966, he co-founded, edited, and published the seminal new music journal, SOURCE: Music of the Avant Garde (1967-74). Subsequently, he served on the faculties of the University of South Florida, (1972-78), and the University of North Texas, (1978-96), founding and directing extensive computer music studios at both universities. In 1986 he founded and served as president (1986-2000) of CDCM: Consortium to Distribute Computer Music, producer of the CDCM Computer Music Series on Centaur Records, with thirty-one compact disc volumes released since 1988. Elected twice to the Board of Directors of the International Computer Music Association (1984-88, 1994-98), Austin served as its president, (1990-94).

Retiring from his 38-year academic career in 1996, Austin resides with his wife Edna at their home in Denton, Texas. Working in and out of his Denton studio, gaLarry, Austin continues his active composing career with commissions, tours, performances, writing, recordings, and lecturing, anticipating future extended composer residencies in North America, Asia, and Europe.