Shere, Charles

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Shere, Charles

Shere, Charles, American writer on music and composer; b. Berkeley, Calif., Aug. 20, 1935. He was reared on a small farm in Sonoma County, where he attended high school and learned to play wind instruments; after graduating from the Univ. of Calif, at Berkeley with a degree in English (1960), he studied composition with Erickson privately and at the San Francisco Cons. of Music, and also studied conducting with Samuel (1961–64); also studied art, on which he later wrote and lectured extensively. From 1964 to 1967 he was music director of Berkeley’s KPFA-FM; also was active at San Francisco’s KQED-TV (1967–73), an instructor at Mills Coll. in Oakland (1973–84), and art and music critic for the Oakland Tribune (1972–88). He was co-founder, publisher, ed., and a major contributor to EAR, a monthly new-music tabloid magazine. He is married to Lindsey Remolif Shere, the famed pastry chef of Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Shere describes his early compositions, many notated in open form and scored for unspecified or variable ensembles, as “rural and contemplative rather than urban and assertive in nature”; his later works utilize more conventional notation, his shift from pen-and-ink to computer-generated notation coinciding with a greater use of rhythmic conventions, as in the ostinatos in the finales of his Symphony in 3 Movements (1988), Concerto for Violin with Harp, Percussion, and Small Orchestra (1985), and Sonata: Bachelor Machine (1989).


DRAMATIC: Opera: The Box of 1914 (1980; San Francisco, Jan. 29, 1981); The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (partial perf., Oakland, Dec. 1, 1984); Ladies Voices, chamber opera for 3 Sopranos and 6 Instruments (Berkeley, Oct. 30, 1987). ORCH .: Small Concerto for Piano and Orch. (1964; Aptos, Calif., Aug. 22, 1965); Nightmusic for Diminished Orch. (1967; Oakland, Jan. 24, 1982, K. Nagano conducting); Soigneur de gravité (de l’orgue pour orchestre) (1972); Music for Orchestra (Symphony) (Kensington, Calif., Oct. 28, 1976, composer conducting); Tongues for Poet (speaking in tongues), Chamber Orch., and Tape (San Francisco, May 6, 1978); Concerto for Violin, Harp, Percussion, and Small Orchestra (1985; Aptos, Calif., July 21, 1990); Symphony in 3 Movements (1988; Berkeley, April 28, 1989, K. Nagano conducting). CHAMBER : Fratture for 7 Instruments (1962; Osaka, Dec. 23, 1963); Ces désirs du quatuor for any 4 Musicians (1965); Quartet No. 2 for 3 to 5 or 6 Musicians (1966); Screen, Quartet No. 3 for 4 to 6 Strings (1969); Quartet No. 7, Like a piece of silvered glass, for Flute, English Horn, Clarinet, and Bassoon (1970); Handler of Gravity for Organ and Optional Chimes (1971); Parergon to Woodwind Quintet for English Horn, Bass Clarinet, and Bassoon (1970); String Quartet No. 1 (Oakland, Calif., May 10, 1980). Piano: Sonata: Bachelor Machine (1989; San Francisco, July 25, 1990). VOCAL : Certain Phenomena of Sound for Soprano and Violin (1983; San Francisco, Feb. 11, 1984); Requiem with Oboe for 8 Voices or Double Chorus and Oboe (San Francisco, June 11, 1985); I Like It to Be a Play for Tenor, Baritone, Bass, and String Quartet (San Francisco, Feb. 6, 1989). tape: Ces désirs du vent des gregoriens for Tape (1967).


Among his publications are Even Recently Cultural History, Five Lectures for the 1980s (Lebanon, N.H., 1995); Thinking Sound Music: The Life and Work of Robert Erickson (1995); Everbest Ever: Letters from Virgil (1995).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire