21 Mar 2024

In Development: new commission from Steven Takasugi

Speak welcomes acclaimed composer Steven Takasugi (USA) to compose a new work in anticipation of our 25 year anniversary.

Earlier in the year, we welcomed acclaimed composer Steven Takasugi (USA) to join us for the development of a new work commissioned in anticipation of Speak Percussion’s 25th anniversary, in partnership with the Grainger Museum. This new project delves into an extraordinary archive of sounds from the Grainger Museum’s, Speak Percussion’s and the collaborating artists’ personal collections, and will juxtapose personal and organisational histories to create space for reflection about how and why we collect things; preserve our stories; and forge our own histories and legacies.


About Steven Takasugi:

Steven Kazuo Takasugi, born 1960 in Los Angeles, is a composer of electro-acoustic concert music. This involves the collecting and archiving of recorded, acoustic sound samples into large databases, each classifying thousands of individual, performed instances collected over decades of experimentation and research, mostly conducted in his private sound laboratory. These are then subject to computer-assisted, algorithmic composition, revised and adjusted until the resulting emergent sound phenomena, energies, and relationships reveal hidden meanings and bewildering contexts to the composer. Against this general project of fixed-media is the addition of live performers, described as an accompanying project: “When people return…” This relationship often creates a “strange doubling” playing off the “who is doing what?” inherent with simultaneous live and recorded media: a ventriloquism effect of sorts.

Takasugi received his doctoral in music composition at the University of California , San Diego. He is currently an Associate of the Harvard University Music Department. He is a 2022 Creative Capital Awardee, a 2016 Riemen and Bakatel Fellow for Music at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and the recipient of awards including a 2010 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, four Ernst von Siemens Foundation Commissions, and a Japan Foundation Artist Residency in Tokyo. Takasugi is also an extensive essayist on music and was one of the founding editors of Search Journal for New Music and Culture. He has organized numerous discussion panels and forums on New Music including colloquia and conferences at Harvard Music and the Darmstadt Forum.



Image: Jasmin Wing-Yin Leung