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One Page Bio (649 words) [download pdf]

Composer Neil Rolnick pioneered in the use of computers in musical performance, beginning in the late 1970s.   Based in New York City since 2002, his music has been performed world wide, including recent performances in France, China, Mexico and across the US.  His string quartet Oceans Eat Cities was performed at COP21, the UN Global Climate Summit in Paris in Dec. 2015.  Rolnick has often included unexpected and unusual combinations of materials and media in his music, exploring combinations of digital sampling, interactive multimedia, and acoustic vocal, chamber and orchestral works.  Throughout the 1980s and ‘90s he was also responsible for the development of the first integrated electronic arts graduate and undergraduate programs in the US, at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s iEAR Studios, in Troy, NY.  Rolnick’s innovation as an educator has been to bring together the commonality of artistic creation across many disciplines, and this has led to his varied work with filmmakers, writers, and video and media artists. 

Though much of Rolnick’s work has been in areas which connect music and technology, and is therefore considered in the realm of “experimental” music, his music has always been highly melodic and accessible.  Whether working with electronic sounds, acoustic ensembles, or combinations of the two, his music has been characterized by critics as “sophisticated,” “hummable and engaging,” and as having “good senses of showmanship and humor.” 

In 2014 and 2015 Rolnick completed Oceans Eat Cities (2015), commissioned by the Tribeca New Music Festival, Cello Ex Machina (2015), Silicon Breath (2014), commissioned by the New York State Council on the Arts, and Dynamic RAM & Concert Grand (2014), commissioned by the Fromm Foundation. The last three of these will appear on his next CD on Innova in 2016.  During this period Rolnick also completed the first two of a series of new solo laptop performance pieces, O Brother! and WakeUp, deconstructing recordings by Rolnick’s younger brother and by the Everly Brothers, respectively.  2014 also saw the release of Rolnick’s 18th commercially available recording, The iFiddle Concerto, available digitally from the American Composers Orchestra, featuring violinist Todd Reynolds. 

In 2012 and 2013 Rolnick wrote, recorded and released Gardening At Gropius House, on Innova. The title piece is a concerto for violin, computer and ensemble, commissioned by the Juilliard School in New York.  The CD also includes Anosmia, commissioned by the San Francisco Conservatory, for 3 singers, large ensemble and computer. 

In 2010 and 2011 Rolnick worked primarily on writing MONO, an evening long meditation on the senses.  Approximately half of the work was previewed in 2011 on the Contagious Sounds series at the Gershwin Hotel, in New York City, and at EMPAC in Troy, NY.  In 2010 Rolnick was awarded the Hoefer Prize from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, which included a commission for large ensemble, and an artist residency at the Conservatory in 2012.  Anosmia, the work written for this commission, is also a part of MONO, and was premiered and recorded in March 2012 in San Francisco.  Rolnick also received a 2010 NY Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, a 2011 Fromm Foundation Commission, and a 2013 NY State Council on the Arts Music Commission. From 2010 to 2012 Rolnick was awarded two residencies at the MacDowell Colony, and residencies the Ucross Foundation and the Djerassi Foundation. 

Neil Rolnick was born in 1947, in Dallas, Texas.  He earned a BA in English literature from Harvard College in 1969.  He studied musical composition with Darius Milhaud at the Aspen Music School, with John Adams and Andrew Imbrie at the San Francisco Conservatory, and with Richard Felciano and Olly Wilson at UC Berkeley, where he earned a PhD in musical composition in 1980.  He studied computer music at Stanford with John Chowning and James A. Moorer, and worked as a researcher at IRCAM in Paris, France, from 1977 to 1979.  From 1981-2013 he was a Professor of Music at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

500 Word Bio [download pdf]

Composer Neil Rolnick pioneered the use of computers in musical performance, beginning in the late 1970s.   Based in New York City since 2002, his music has been performed world wide, including recent performances in France, China, Mexico and across the US.  His string quartet Oceans Eat Cities was performed at COP21, the UN Global Climate Summit in Paris in Dec. 2015.  In 2016 he was awarded an ArtsLink Grant for a residency with Omen Theater in Belgrade, Serbia.  

Rolnick has often included unexpected and unusual combinations of materials and media in his music, exploring combinations of digital sampling, interactive multimedia, and acoustic vocal, chamber and orchestral works.  Throughout the 1980s and ‘90s he was responsible for the development of the first integrated electronic arts graduate and undergraduate programs in the US, at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s iEAR Studios, in Troy, NY.  Rolnick’s innovation as an educator has been to bring together the commonality of artistic creation across many disciplines.   

Though much of Rolnick’s work has been in areas which connect music and technology, and is therefore considered in the realm of “experimental” music, his music has always been highly melodic and accessible.  Whether working with electronic sounds, acoustic ensembles, or combinations of the two, his music has been characterized by critics as “sophisticated,” “hummable and engaging,” and as having “good senses of showmanship and humor.” 

In 2014 and 2015 Rolnick completed Oceans Eat Cities (2015), commissioned by the Tribeca New Music Festival, Cello Ex Machina (2015), Silicon Breath (2014), commissioned by the New York State Council on the Arts, and Dynamic RAM & Concert Grand (2014), commissioned by the Fromm Foundation. During this period Rolnick also completed the first two of a series of new solo laptop performance pieces, O Brother! and WakeUp.  All five pieces will be included on his 19th CD, to be released by Innova in fall 2016.

In 2012 and 2013 Rolnick wrote, recorded and released Gardening At Gropius House, on Innova. The title piece is a concerto for violin, computer and ensemble, commissioned by the Juilliard School in New York.

Other recent awards include the 2010 Hoefer Prize from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, a 2010 NY Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, a 2011 Fromm Foundation Commission, and a 2013 NY State Council on the Arts Music Commission. From 2010 to 2015 Rolnick was awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Ucross, Djerassi and Virginia Center for Creative Arts. 

Neil Rolnick was born in 1947, in Dallas, Texas.  He earned a BA in English from Harvard College in 1969.  He studied composition with Darius Milhaud at the Aspen Music School, with John Adams and Andrew Imbrie at the San Francisco Conservatory, and with Richard Felciano and Olly Wilson at UC Berkeley, where he earned a PhD in musical composition in 1980.  He studied computer music at Stanford with John Chowning and James A. Moorer, and worked as a researcher at IRCAM in Paris, France, from 1977-79.  From 1981-2013 he was a Professor of Music at Rensselaer.

300 Word Bio [download pdf]

Composer Neil Rolnick pioneered the use of computers in musical performance, beginning in the late 1970s.   Based in New York City since 2002, his music has been performed world wide, including recent performances in China and Mexico and across the US.  His string quartet Oceans Eat Cities was performed at the UN Global Climate Summit in Paris in Dec. 2015.

Rolnick’s music has often included unexpected and unusual combinations of materials and media.  His work ranges from digital sampling and interactive multimedia to acoustic vocal, chamber and orchestral works.  Throughout the 1980s and ‘90s he was responsible for the development of the first integrated electronic arts graduate and undergraduate programs in the US, at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s iEAR Studios, in Troy, NY.

Though much of his work connects music and technology, and is therefore considered in the realm of “experimental” music, Rolnick’s music has always been highly melodic and accessible.  Whether working with electronic sounds, acoustic ensembles, or combinations of the two, his music has been characterized by critics as “sophisticated,” “hummable and engaging,” and as having “good senses of showmanship and humor.” 

In 2014 and 2015 Rolnick completed Cello Ex Machina (2015), Silicon Breath (2014), commissioned by the New York State Council on the Arts, and Dynamic RAM & Concert Grand (2014), commissioned by the Fromm Foundation. All three will appear on his next CD on Innova in 2016.  During this period Rolnick also completed the first two of a series of new solo laptop performance pieces, O Brother! and WakeUp, deconstructing recordings by Rolnick’s younger brother and by the Everly Brothers, respectively. In 2014 the American Composers Orchestra issued the 18th commercial recording of Rolnick’s work, his iFiddle Concerto, featuring violinist Todd Reynolds.

150 Word Bio [download pdf]

Composer Neil Rolnick pioneered in the use of computers in musical performance, beginning in the late 1970s.  Rolnick has often included unexpected and unusual combinations of materials and media in his music.  He has performed his music around the world, exploring forms as diverse as digital sampling, interactive multimedia, and acoustic vocal, chamber and orchestral works.  Throughout the 1980s and ‘90s he was responsible for the development of the first integrated electronic arts graduate and undergraduate programs in the US, at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s iEAR Studios, in Troy, NY.

Though much of Rolnick’s work connects music and technology, and is therefore considered in the realm of “experimental” music, his music has always been highly melodic and accessible.  Whether working with electronic sounds, improvisation, or multimedia, his music has been characterized by critics as “sophisticated,” “hummable and engaging,” and as having “good senses of showmanship and humor.”