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Robinson, Michael

Robinson, Michael

Robinson, Michael , American composer; b. N.Y., March 11, 1956. He began piano lessons as a child, and also studied trumpet. His first significant teacher was Barney Bragin, who encouraged his interest in jazz and improvisation. In high school he began to study the saxophone and also composed his first work, Promenade des Tortues for Clarinet and Piano. He then studied at the State Univ. of N.Y. at Potsdam, pursuing a classical degree in saxophone while continuing his interest in jazz through private study with Lee Konitz. He left school and began playing in N.Y. and soon made a decided shift away from improvisation to composition. He returned to the State Univ. of N.Y. at Potsdam to complete his degree, then studied briefly with Mel Powell, Subotnick, and Leonard Stein while taking courses at the Calif. Inst. of the Arts. Returning once again to N.Y., and influenced by exposure to the music of Morton Feldman, he began composing slow moving, transcendental pieces of some duration. In 1984 he began experimenting with computers, and gradually began composing directly for the computer/synthesizer, turning out works of considerable energy and polyphony. He gave his first concert of works at St. Peter’s Church in N.Y. (1985), and subsequently composed works to be performed exclusively by the computer or sequenced in real time, without live intervention or overdubbing. In 1989 he moved to Maui, where he acquired a MIDI system, which expanded his range of compositional possibilities. Returning to the mainland U.S. in 1990, he settled in Beverly Hills, where he released his first CD, Trembling Flowers (1991). In 1992 he began composing extremely contrapuntal, multimovement pieces, subsequently released on the recording Fire Monkey (1993). In 1994 he also began working with exotic instrumental timbres and tunings, becoming particularly interested in North Indian classical music; the resulting early compositions so influenced comprise his CD Hamoa (1995). From 1996 Robinson began producing his own CDs, visually distinct for their lavish Japanese rice paper covers and autographed inner gold label; these include Adorned With Pearl (1996), Chinese Legend (1997), Luminous Realms (1998), Lunar Mansions (1998), Sagarmatha (1998), Astral Palace (1999), Jaunpuri (1999), Monsoon Clouds (1999), and Snow Leopard Meadow (1999).

—Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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