UVA Arts, University of Virginia

Vol 08 Summer 18 Library
Cat Thrasher

Ted Coffey, the Newest President of SEAMUS

Ted Coffey has been a little busy lately. He was elected President of the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS), the nation’s leading organization for electronic music. Founded in 1984, the non-profit organization of composers, performers, and teachers of electro-acoustic music (a term used to describe music that is dependent on electronic technology for their creation and/or performance) represents every part of the country and virtually every musical style. SEAMUS is committed to the dissemination of work through an annual national conference, juried recording projects, and the publication of Journal SEAMUS. Coffey, known for his acoustic and electronic chamber music, music for dance, and sound art, has seen his work presented in concerts and festivals across North America, Europe, and Asia at venues including Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Wolf Trap, and The Kennedy Center. Among Coffey’s most fascinating work has been his ongoing collaboration with dance legend Bill T. Jones. Coffey first met Jones on a 2011 panel discussion on artistic process hosted at UVA. Jones appreciated Coffey’s understanding of mid-20thcentury avant-garde aesthetics and invited him to collaborate on Story/Time, an autobiographical dance piece he was creating with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Story/Time was developed over a year-long series of residencies, and has since been performed nearly 100 times to Coffey’s live electronic score. This year, Jones came calling again, inviting Coffey to collaborate on a unique challenge – responding to Until, artist Nick Cave’s largest and most complex work to date, through a solo dance performance performed in the midst of the installation. Until was housed in a cavernous gallery space at MASS MoCA, and incorporated thousands of found objects including 16,000 wind spinners, millions of plastic pony beads, thousands of ceramic birds, fruits, and animals, 13 gilded pigs, more than ten miles of crystals, 24 chandeliers, one crocodile, and 17 cast-iron lawn jockeys. Jones’ response was entitled Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: A Call and Response, and combined the legendary artist’s ethereal, powerful, and iconic movements with a powerful soundtrack that included spoken word, nods to classic literature, spirituals, and original compositions written and performed by Coffey. The story, and the collaboration, may not have seen its final chapter – Jones told the audience that he is considering expanding the work for his full company.

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