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The Kennedy Center

Roscoe Mitchell



Biography

Roscoe Mitchell is an internationally renowned musician, composer and innovator serving as the Darius Milhaud Chair of Composition at Mills College (CA). His virtuosic resurrection of overlooked woodwind instruments spanning extreme registers, visionary solo performances, and assertion of a hybrid compositional/improvisational paradigm have placed him at the forefront of contemporary music. Mr. Mitchell is a founding member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), and the Trio Space. He is also distinguished as the founder of the Creative Arts Collective, The Roscoe Mitchell Sextet & Quartet, The Roscoe Mitchell Art Ensemble, The Sound Ensemble, The New Chamber Ensemble, and the Note Factory.

His instrumental expertise includes the gamut of the saxophone and recorder families, clarinet, flute, piccolo, and the transverse flute in addition to his elaborate invention, the Percussion Cage (consisting of instruments from five continents and found objects). His oeuvre boasts hundreds of albums and original works, ranging from passionate, forceful improvisations to ornate orchestral music. His vast discography includes “Sound” (1966, 5-star review in DownBeat Magazine), “People in Sorrow” (1969, with the AEOC), “Nonaah” (1977, DownBeat Magazine Record of the Year), “Bells for the South Side” (2017, featured as one of the NYTimes's best jazz albums of the year) and “Discussions” (distinguished on the NYTimes's list of 2017's best classical albums). His works have been premiered by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Del Teatro Comunale Di Bologna, the SEM Ensemble, the Orchestra Banda, Montreal-Toronto Art Orchestra and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. He has performed and/or recorded with Craig Taborn, Jack DeJohnette, Mike Reed, Tyshawn Sorey, George Lewis, Anthony Braxton, Vijay Iyer, Henry Threadgill, Muhal Richard Abrams, and Thomas Buckner amongst countless others.

Mitchell’s honors include the Doris Duke Artist Award (2014), a CMA Presenting Jazz grant (2010), and grants from The National Endowment for the Arts and Meet the Composer. Roscoe was further granted The Doris Duke Audience Development Fund (a separate fund which extends the Artist Award, put towards audience development for his residency at the Museum of Contemporary art) and The Shifting Foundation Grant (which made possible exquisite audio and video recordings of the residency's proceedings).

The past few years have been amongst the most exciting, productive, and vibrant of Mr. Mitchell's career. His recent suite of orchestral works (Conversations for Orchestra) has been performed worldwide and recordings thereof have received considerable critical acclaim. This flurry of activity began at the behest of world-renowned conductor Ilan Volkov, who invited Mitchell to prepare music for 2016's Tectonics Festival in Reykjavik. Selections from the “Conversations” series have since been performed in Bologna, Glasgow, Ostrava, Toronto, San Francisco, and New York. Conductors of these works have included Peter Kotik and Steed Cowart of Mills College, who led a 34-piece chamber orchestra for a performance at San Francisco's de Young Museum. These events have featured several of Mitchell's colleagues and collaborators: William Winant, James Fei, Thomas Buckner, and Gianni Trovalusci, to name a few.

He is currently working on a large-scale orchestral work entitled “Useful News,” commissioned by the Ensemble intercontemporain, to be premiered in Paris on January 20th, 2019. Additionally, he celebrates two 50-year anniversaries this decade: the AACM's in 2015, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago's in 2019. To honor the history of the ensemble and the legacy of Lester Bowie, Joseph Jarman, and Malachi Favors Maghostut; Mr. Mitchell and Famoudou Don Moye will embark on an ambitious tour showcasing thirteen musicians of the highest caliber. Of course, these efforts are conducted in tandem with his lifelong dedication to the art of small group and solo performance, which is what he'll demonstrate at Zebulon.

Upcoming Performances

Video 3/28/2019: Roscoe Mitchell with Moor Mother

Roscoe Mitchell is an internationally renowned musician, composer, and innovator serving as the Darius Milhaud Chair of Composition at Mills College (CA). His virtuosic resurrection of overlooked woodwind instruments spanning extreme registers, visionary solo performances, and assertion of a hybrid compositional/improvisational paradigm have placed him at the forefront of contemporary music.

Presented as part of DIRECT CURRENT

Roscoe-Mitchell