Ken Ueno

Ken Ueno (b.1970) is an American composer, throat singer, improviser, and sound artist from Bronxville, New York. He is an Associate Professor at the University of California, Berkeley and co-director of Minimum Security Composers Collective. With an artistic mission to explore musical potential of sounds overlooked and rejected by an audience, Ueno is inspired by heavy metal sub-tone singing, European avant-garde instrumental techniques, American experimentalism, and sawari aesthetic in traditional Japanese music.

The composer received his bachelor's degree from Berklee College Of Music in 1994 and master's from Boston University in 1997. Ken continued his education at Yale University School Of Music in 1997–99, graduating with Master of Musical Arts degree. In 2005, Ken Ueno received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. Some of his principal teachers over the years include Harrison Birtwistle, Hans Tutschku, Mario Davidovsky, Bernard Rands, Ned Rorem, Martin Bresnick, Evan Ziporyn, Bun-Ching Lam, John Harbison, Lukas Foss, Tison Street, John Bavicchi, and Herb Pomeroy. Before joining the faculty at UC Berkley in 2008, Ken Ueno had been teaching at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where he established and directed an electronic music studio.

As a vocalist, Ken Ueno specializes in extended techniques (overtones, throat-singing, multiphonics, extreme registers), and has improvised and collaborated with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Joey Baron, Ikue Mori, Robyn Schulkowsky, Joan Jeanrenaud, Pascal Contet, Gene Coleman, Tyshawn Sorey, David Wessel, Robin Hayward, Jorrit Dijkstra, Hans Tutschku, James Coleman, and Vic Rawlings. Ken's ongoing performance projects include collaborations with Tim Feeney, Matt Ingalls, Du Yun, and Lou Bunk. He was also a vocalist of an experimental trio Blood Money. Ueno appeared as soloist in his vocal concerto with Boston Modern Orchestra Project, The National Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra, and other notable orchestras.

Among the ensembles and musicians who performed Ueno's works are Kim Kashkashian and Robyn Schulkowsky, Frances-Marie Uitti, Mayumi Miyata, Teodoro Anzellotti, Aki Takahashi, Alarm Will Sound, Steven Schick and San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Paul Dresher Ensemble (with Amy X Neuburg), Nieuw Ensemble, Wendy Richman, Gregory Oakes, Del Sol String Quartet, Vincent Royer, Bang On A Can All-Stars, American Composers Orchestra, Cassatt String Quartet, New York New Music Ensemble, PRISM Quartet, Relâche, Orkest De Ereprijs, and So Percussion. His piece for The Hilliard Ensemble, Shiroi Ishi, was featured in their repertoire for over a decade. Eighth Blackbird performed Pharmakon by Ken Ueno numerous times during 2001–03 seasons.

In recent years, Ueno has been collaborating with architects and graphic/video artists on interdisciplinary art pieces. He worked on several installations with Angela Bulloch, writing custom software to control mechanical drawing machines by audio input. In 2014, the Inside-Out Museum in Beijing presented Ueno's collaboration with architect Thomas Tsang. The software-driven work sonically activated a stairwell as a resonant chamber, effectively turning the building into a gigantic wind instrument. Ken Ueno also made a few solo sound installations, such as 24-channel Liquid Lucretius (2013), which was installed at the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City, or Breath Cloud (2014) with 90 speakers commissioned by the Taipei Fine Arts Museum.
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