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Ueno, Ken

Born in 1970, composer, vocalist, improviser, interdisciplinary artist. He studied at the Berklee College of Music at the University of Boston, Yale School of Music and at Harvard University, where he obtained his doctorate. Winner of the Rome Prize (2006–7) and Berlin Prize (2010–11), he teaches at the University of California in Berkeley. In his works he combines a variety of influences: low heavy metal singing, Tuvan throat singing, instrumental techniques of the European avantgarde, American experimental music, and sawari (beautiful noise), the aesthetic of traditional Japanese music. He regards it as his artistic mission to honour sounds that are unappreciated or rejected and to reevaluate their musical potential in this way. His music moves the boundaries of perception and questions the traditional paradigms of beauty. In order to reveal such qualities of sound as harmonics or noises resulting from performance, Ken Ueno’s music is often amplified. His works have been performed by such outstanding artists as Kim Kashkashian and Robyn Schulkowsky, Mayumi Miyata, Teodoro Anzellotti, Wendy Richman, Greg Oakes, Frances-Marie Uitti, the Alarm Will Sound ensemble, and Nieuw Ensemble. Ken Ueno’s compositions have been presented at the Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Amsterdam’s Muziekgebouw, Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, Vienna’s Konzerthaus, during MusikTriennale in Cologne, and at the Ars Musica festival. A portrait concert of his music was included in the programme of the Berlin MaerzMusik festival in 2011. As a performer Ken Ueno specialises in extended vocal techniques. Musicians with whom he has improvised include Joey Baron, Robyn Schulkowsky, Joan Jeanrenaud, Ikue Mori, Tim Feeney, and David Wessel. He also collaborates with visual artists, architects, and video artists. His works created in collaboration with Angela Bulloch have been presented during the Art Fair Basel and at the castle in Wolfsburg. He has also cocreated installations with the architect Patrick Tighe and the landscape architect Jose Parral. A monographic disc with his concerts was released by BMOP/sound.


Major works: A Palimpsest History of Canto V, chamber symphony (1998), Saturation and Purge for large orchestra (1999), Toxis chromaticus, string quartet (1999), Music for – Oswald’s Triptych, electronic music (1999), Senexis orichalcum for wind quartet (2000), Zero Cosmology for wind quintet (2000), Jusuiraku for large orchestra (2001), Pharmakon for chamber ensemble (2001), Animal Sendai for 18 amplified instruments and electronics (2001), Shiroi Ishi for vocal ensemble (2001), ...blood blossoms... for Bang on a Can All-Stars (2002), Márquez for Non Sequitur for six instruments and seven boomboxes (2002), Zansetsu for overtone singer, violin and electronics (2002), inflation of BUREAUCRACY for voice and quadrophonic tape (2002), all moments stop here and together we become every memory that has ever been for 14 instruments and music boxes (2003), Apmonia for small orchestra (2004), Disjecta for horn, violin and piano (2004), Kaze-no-Oka, concerto for biwa, shakuhachi and orchestra (2005), A Book of Months for chamber ensemble (2005), Love requited but unfulfilled, under the stars, Sukkeien Garden, Hiroshima, Sunday, August 4, 1945, 12 hours before the bomb for voice, violin and percussion (2005), Ga-uah-Chon-Ch-cha (A Song of the Rapture) for large ensemble (2006), Motor Skill as Dynamic Constraint Satisfaction for violin and cello (2006), Talus, concerto for viola and string orchestra (2007), Necropolis for chamber orchestra (2007), Hypnomelodiamachia for viola, percussion and electronics (2007), ...where Ginkgo grow in Borromean knots for kayagum (2007), On a Sufficient Condition for the Existence of Most Specific Hypothesis, concerto for overtone singer and orchestra (2008), Like Dusted Sparks, concerto for timpani and wind ensemble (2008), Archaeologies of the Future for amplified sextet with aliquot singing (2008), That I may time transcend, that a universe my heart may unfold for shō and accordion (2008), The Vague Border at the Edge of Time for ryuteki, hichiriki and shō (2008), One by one, I collect the fragments of my song from harmonies which abound in the air unheard for violin and interactive electronics (2008), Reverse Swastikas Mark the Place of Buddhist Temples for voice and Max/MSP (2008), Two Hands for viola and percussion (2009), Echoes of Ancient Industry for chamber ensemble (2010), Kumatology for baritone saxophone, percussion, electric guitar and electric organ (2010), Tsuki no Uta for koto and voice (2010), Campanology for carillon (2010), (X)igágáí for chamber orchestra (2011), Volcano for piano (2011), Song for Sendai for singing violist (2011), Peradam for chamber ensemble (2012), Pork Roll, Egg, and Cheese on a Kaiser Bun for quarter-tone electric guitar, quarter-tone vibraphone and percussion (2012), 12.12.12. for flute and viola (2012), Bucephalus Dream of Exotic Wives for tar, shō, viola and cello (2013), Gallo, a fable in music in one act for soprano, contratenor, clarinet, saxophone and cello (2014), Hapax – Legomenon, concerto for twobow cellist and orchestra (2014), buildings for flutes (2014), Prologue to a Thousand Years for choir (2014), Secret Meridian for soprano, loop station, electric guitar and kit drums (2013), The Four Contemplations for ensemble and mp3 players (2015), Osiris for three performers (2015), Zetsu for ensemble (2015).