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KEIR GOGWILT

VIOLINIST, WRITER


Keir GoGwilt is a violinist and writer whose work spans the disciplinary range, both creatively and critically. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland and raised in New York, he studied literature at Harvard University, where he was awarded the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts.

As a violin soloist he has performed with groups including the Chinese National Symphony, the Orquesta Filarmonica de Santiago, the Bowdoin International Music Festival Orchestra, the Manhattan School of Music Chamber Sinfonia, members of A Far Cry, the La Jolla Symphony (upcoming), and the Orchestra of St. Luke's (upcoming). As a recitalist and chamber musician he has played at festivals including the Spoleto Festival in Italy, Rockport Chamber Music, Yellow Barn, and Taos. He has appeared as a guest artist at the Portland Bach Festival and the Music Academy of the West. As a core member of the newly formed American Modern Opera Company, he will take part in festivals and residencies this season at the American Repertory Theater, Harvard University, and the Park Avenue Armory.

His first collaboration with dancer Bobbi Jene Smith, “A Study on Effort,” incorporates his own improvisations as well as a retrospective “question score,” written out after several iterations of the piece. They have been featured at the Luminato Festival, PS 122’s COIL Festival, the ODC Theater in collaboration with the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, UCSD Dance&Theater, the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, and the American Repertory Theater (upcoming).

GoGwilt has worked with composers including Tan Dun, Tobias Picker (recording of violin and chamber music released with Tzadik Records), Carolyn Chen, Celeste Oram, and his longest continuous collaborator, Matthew Aucoin. He has premiered several of Aucoin’s violin works including “Poem,” “This Same Light,” “Celan Fragments,” and “Its Own Accord.” He has composed poems on matrices of 27 words and filmed himself playing Telemann in navy warships and garbage dumps for Celeste Oram’s explorative broadcasts on technological media, “Televisionmann,” and “Vera Wyse Munro: A Radio Séance.”

In addition to his creative work, he is an active scholar. His work moves the conversation beyond the reproduction of musical works to consider the reproduction of technical/interpretive templates that guide musical practice in both physical and graphic space. Identifying such templates can help to determine musicians’ and theorists’ different notions of music’s object, arrived at according to variable social, aesthetic, and political concerns. His work draws from structuralist and post-structuralist semiotics as well as Frankfurt School aesthetics.

He has presented his work in conversational performances and presentations at Fordham University, the Scottish Poetry Library, the Peabody Essex Museum (together with Matthew Aucoin), the Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music (with Roger Reynolds), and the Orpheus Institute in Ghent. He has a forthcoming essay in the Orpheus Institute Series published by the Leuven Press and is currently writing a musical theater piece called Enlightenment.

GoGwilt has studied and collaborated with musicians including Lewis Kaplan, Robert Levin, Steven Schick, Charles Curtis, and Anthony Burr. At Harvard he studied poetry and philosophy with Jorie Graham, Helen Vendler, and John Hamilton. He has served as associate concertmaster of the Canadian Opera Company, as faculty on the Wellesley Composer’s Conference, and as backup strings for Chance the Rapper on SNL. He is currently a music PhD student at UCSD in the Integrative Studies area.