Composer Michael Gordon is the co-founder and co-director of New York’s Bang on a Can new music festival. Although he was born in Florida, Gordon grew up in an Eastern European community in Nicaragua. He eventually returned to the U.S. and studied composition with Martin Bresnick at Yale, and played in various rock bands in New York City.
His works have been performed by the Icebreaker ensemble of London (Trance and Yo Shakespeare), Ensemble Modern (Love Bead), and the Michael Gordon Philharmonic. Icebreaker has recorded a couple of Gordon’s works for releases on Argo, and performed his score for the Jeyasingh Dance Company piece “Intimacies of a Third Order.” Formed in 1983, the Michael Gordon Philharmonic adds string instruments to a rock group’s instrumentation. In the years since its founding, the Philharmonic has toured North America and Europe.
Gordon began working in the music theater in the early ‘90s, collaborating with video artist Elliot Caplan on Van Gough Video Opera (1991). He has since worked on other operas, including Chaos, and comic-book opera The Carbon Copy Building (1999). In 2001, his first collaboration with filmmaker Bill Morrison Decasia premiered and has since been performed at several festivals. Decasia places the orchestra and large projection screens around the audience. Such multi-media works and other projects that bend the traditional make-up of ensembles are common in his work. Timber (2009) is a percussion sextet performed on 2x4s and accompanied by dancers.