Joan La Barbara Show Notes

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Legendary composer, performer, and sound artist Joan La Barbara has had an undeniable impact on the course of contemporary vocal music. Her work with composers John Cage, Morton Feldman, Robert Ashley, and dozens of others—as well as her own work as a composer and vocal explorer— make her an icon in the contemporary vocal music world. She joins us this year on night two of Resonant Bodies Festival, on September 6th, at Roulette. In this interview we discuss her new opera about Virginia Wolf and Joseph Cornell, her compositional process, her work with Cage, Berio, and Feldman, and about her experience as a woman in the music world.

Podcast notes: correction to La Barbara's statement about the tempo of Three Voices: determined by five 32nd notes in the space of one eighth note. Correction to the name of the ensemble: Electronic Phoenix.


Read a full biography at

Joan La Barbara’s career as a composer/performer/soundartist explores the human voice as a multi-faceted instrument expanding traditional boundaries in developing a unique vocabulary of experimental and extended vocal techniques: multiphonics, circular singing, ululation and glottal clicks that have become her "signature sounds". In 2008, La Barbara was awarded the American Music Center's Letter of Distinction for significant contributions to the field of contemporary American music. Creating works for multiple voices, chamber ensembles, music theater, orchestra and interactive technology, her awards in the U.S. and Europe include: 2016 John Cage Award from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts; 2013 Civitella Ranieri Fellowship; 2011 Premio Internzionale "Demetrio Stratos" Per la sperimentazione musicale; 2004 Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition; DAAD Artist-in-Residency in Berlin and 7 National Endowment for the Arts fellowships in Music Composition, Opera/Music Theatre, Inter-Arts, Recording (2), Solo Recitalist and Visual Arts; ISCM International Jury Award; Akustische International Competition Award; Aaron Copland Fund for Music; Foundation for Contemporary Arts; Collaboration Award of NY Coalition of Professional Women in the Arts and Media; Meet The Composer and ASCAP Awards.

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