Joan La Barbara
Joan La Barbara’s career as a composer/performer/sound artist explores the human voice as a multi-faceted instrument expanding traditional boundaries, creating works for a wide array of media, developing a unique vocabulary of experimental and extended vocal techniques (multiphonics, circular singing, ululation, and glottal clicks that have become her “signature sounds”), which has garnered awards in the United States and Europe and numerous commissions, recently from the West Deutscher Rundfunk; Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company; a choral work for the University of Iowa Center for New Music; and the solo cello work A Trail of Indeterminate Light. 73 Poems, her collaborative work with text artist Kenneth Goldsmith, was included in The American Century Part II: SoundWorks at The Whitney Museum of American Art.
La Barbara has collaborated with artists including Lita Albuquerque, Judy Chicago, Ed Emshwiller, Kenneth Goldsmith, Peter Gordon, Bruce Nauman, Steina, Woody Vasulka, and Lawrence Weiner. She has premiered landmark compositions by noted American composers, including Morton Subotnick’s chamber opera Jacob’s Room, his Hungers, and Intimate Immensity; the title role in Robert Ashley’s opera Now Eleanor’s Idea, his Balseros, and Dust; Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach; Morton Feldman’s Three Voices; Steve Reich’s Drumming; and John Cage’s Solo for Voice 45 from Song Books.
In addition to her internationally acclaimed discs of Feldman and Cage (New Albion), Sound Paintings and the reissue of La Barbara’s seminal works from the 1970s Voice is the Original Instrument (Lovely Music) and Shaman-Song (New World Records), she has recorded for A&M Horizon, Centaur, Deutsche Grammophon, Nonesuch, Mode, Music & Arts, MusicMasters, Musical Heritage, Newport Classic, Sony, Virgin, Voyager, and Wergo.