Alex Temple

Composer, 2012


My music lies somewhere between Surrealism and Pop Art.  As someone who loves both the classical tradition and the world of pop culture, I’ve always felt uncomfortable with stylistic hierarchies and the idea of a pure musical language.  I prefer to look for points of connection between things that aren’t supposed to belong together, using iconic musical and textual materials to evoke clusters of associations — places, time periods, worldviews — while distorting and recombining them in order to create new meanings.  I’m particularly interested in reclaiming socially disapproved-of (“cheesy”) sounds, playing with the boundary between funny and frightening, and telling stories of lost memories and secret histories.

My work has been performed by a variety of soloists and ensembles, including Mellissa Hughes, Timothy Andres, Mark Dancigers, the American Composers Orchestra, Fifth House Ensemble, and Ensemble de Sade.  I also write vocal and electronic music for myself, which I’ve performed in New York venues such as Roulette, Exapno, the Tank, the Gershwin Hotel, and Galapagos Art Space.  As the keyboardist for Ben Hjertmann’s chamber-rock group The Sissy-Eared Mollycoddles, I’ve performed at Chicago’s Green Mill Cocktail Lounge and at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, TX;  and with aperiodic, an ensemble dedicated to the performance of indeterminate music in the tradition of John Cage, I’ve made noise using my voice, synthesizers and various household objects at Chicago’s Elastic Arts Foundation.

I got my BA from Yale University in 2005, where I studied with Kathryn Alexander, John Halle and Matthew Suttor, and released two albums of electronic music on a microlabel that I ran out of my dorm room.  In 2007 I completed my MA at University of Michigan, where I studied with Erik Santos and visiting professors Michael Colgrass, Tania León and Betsy Jolas, as well as collaborating with a troupe of dancers and playing in an indie bossa-nova band.  After I left Ann Arbor, I spent two years in New York, working as the program manager for the New York Youth Symphony’s Making Score program for young composers and co-founding DETOUR, a new-music concert series which has since moved to London under the direction of composer Brian Mark.  Now I’m pursuing a doctorate at Northwestern University, where I’ve studied with Hans Thomalla and Jay Alan Yim, and taught aural skills, composition for non-majors, and private composition lessons.  I’m currently working on an opera called End, about TV production company closing logos and the end of the world.

Check out Alex’s website and Twitter feed for more updates.


Thick Line
for three or more wind/brass instruments


Party at the Last Resort
for flute, english horn, clarinet, bassoon, french horn, violin, viola, cello, bass, and piano