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Prominent Experimental Composer to Perform at Santa Monica Library  

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By Lookout Staff

March 6, 2016 -- Expect to be entranced as much by the silences as by the notes played when composer Michael Pisaro performs and discusses one of his solo guitar compositions at the Santa Monica Library.

The free presentation by Pisaro, who teaches in the Composition and Experimental Sound Practices programs at CalArts, takes place Wednesday March 15 in the Main Library’s Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium and is part of the Soundwaves monthly concert series.

Pisaro is a prominent member of the Wandelweiser group of composers, "whose use of duration and silence has been profoundly influential on contemporary experimental music," event organizers said.

Formed in 1992, the group was inspired by American composer John Cage, who died that year and whose legendary composition 4'33" calls for the performer to remain silently seated without producing a note ("Santa Monica Celebrates John Cage's Musical Heritage," September 10, 2012).

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross has written that the Wandelweiser group's music can be "otherworldly" and noted that often "silence overtakes sound to the point where the work seems on the verge of vanishing.

Photo by Chiyoko Szlavnics courtesy of

Composer Michael Pisaro
"More than once," Ross wrote in The New Yorker last fall, "I’ve put on a Wandelweiser recording, gone about another task, and momentarily forgotten that music is playing. Then a tone startles me, like a voice speaking in a room that I thought was empty.

"When the listener focuses intently, wisps of sound can become expressive characters, silhouetted against an empty expanse."

Ross has called Pisaro, who received a 2005-2006 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award, the leading American member of Wandelweiser and named “the earth and the sky” for solo piano one of the notable recordings of 2016.

The piece for solo guitar Pisaro will perform in Santa Monica -- which is titled "melody, silence" -- is among the more tha 80 works he has composed for a wide array of instrumental combinations, including several pieces for variable instrumentation. A large number of his works are for a solo instrument.

"This is a rare opportunity for Westsiders to experience his work live," event organizers said.

The Soundwaves series presents artists who appear on the DRAM (Database of Recorded American Music) streaming service. The Santa Monica Library is the first public library to offer this service to its cardholders.

Listings of past and upcoming Soundwaves shows as well as sound and video recordings can be found at

The Santa Monica Public Library is wheelchair accessible. For special disabled services, call Library Administration at (310) 458-8606 at least one week before the event.

The Main Library is served by Big Blue Bus routes 1, 7, R7, R10 and 18 and provides bicycle parking racks.

For more information, visit or contact the Santa Monica Public Library at (310) 458-8600.

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