To say that Carol Robinson is a Franco-American composer and clarinetist does not really communicate the eclecticism of her experience and passion. She is not someone who likes the middle ground, preferring the edges, the extremes. Her music is situated in those places of tenderness and rage that come from commitment and mastery. Trained as a classical clarinetist, she graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory in the US before continuing her study of contemporary music in Paris thanks to a H.H. Woolley grant.
Whether playing repertoire or experimental forms, she performs in major venues and festivals the world over (Festival d’Automne, MaerzMuzik, Archipel, RomaEuropa, Wien Modern, CTM Berlin, Geometry of Now, Crossing the Line, Huddersfield…), and works closely with musicians from a wide stylistic spectrum. A fervent improviser, she prefers the most open musical situations and regularly collaborates with visual artists.
Author of over sixty works, she began composing by writing music theater pieces that were performed in France, Germany, and Switzerland. She recently received a commission from the French Government for Mr Barbe bleue, a chamber opera for baroque musicians, and another for Can You See for eight singers, mandolin, guitar, and harp. After dancing seriously for most of her life, composing for choreographers came naturally. She has written for Susan Buirge, Nadège MacLeay, Robert Swinston, Young-Ho Nam, Thierry Thieû Niang, François Verret…
Fascinated by the compositional possibilities offered by electronic sound manipulation, she often composes pieces that link acoustic instruments with electronics. Her ongoing integration of aleatoric procedures is one of her signature techniques.
Robinson’s recent discography reflects the scope of her work. Beyond her compositions like Billows or Laima for clarinets and live electronics, or Cross-Currents an unending aleatoric mix composed with Cathy Milliken, there are monographic recordings of major twentieth century composers such as Giacinto Scelsi, Luigi Nono, Morton Feldman, Luciano Berio (for MODE), Éliane Radigue, Jürg Frey and Phill Niblock, as well as classical music, jazz, and alternative rock for various labels.
Alain Bancquart: Le Livre du Labyrinthe (mode 120/121, 2-CDs)
Luciano Berio: Sequenza IXa; Comma for e-flat clarinet. In The Complete Sequenzas and Works for Solo Instruments (mode 161-163, 3-CDs)
Morton Feldman: Vol. 7: Late Works with Clarinet (mode 119)
Luigi Nono: Voices of Protest (mode 87)
Giacinto Scelsi: Music For High Winds (mode 102)
"Late Works with Clarinet": Interview with Carol Robinson, by Alan Nicholson.
Carol Robinson online