Composer, musicologist, and trombonist George Lewis will present the Bienen School of Music’s convocation address on Saturday, June 8, 2024, at 12:00 p.m. in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall.

Lewis is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music and Area Chair in Composition at Columbia University and also currently serves as artistic director of the International Contemporary Ensemble. A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, and a member of the Akademie der Künste Berlin, he was a Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Institute for Advanced Study) in 2020-21. Lewis’s other honors include the Doris Duke Artist Award (2019), a MacArthur Fellowship (2002), and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2015). A member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971, Lewis's work is presented by ensembles worldwide and published by Edition Peters. A Yamaha Artist, Lewis is widely regarded as a pioneer in the creation of computer programs that improvise in concert with human musicians.

His central areas of scholarship include the history and criticism of experimental music, computer music, interactive media, and improvisation, particularly as these areas become entangled with the dynamics of race, gender, and decolonization.  His most frequently cited articles on these topics include “New Music Decolonization in Eight Difficult Steps” (VAN Outernational) and “Improvised Music after 1950: Afrological and Eurological Perspectives” (Black Music Research Journal). His widely acclaimed book, A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music (University of Chicago Press, 2008) received the American Book Award and the American Musicological Society’s Music in American Culture Award. He is co-editor with Harald Kisiedu of the bilingual edited volume Composing While Black: Afrodiasporic New Music Today/Afrodiasporische Neue Musik Heute (2023), as well as co-editor with Benjamin Piekut of the two-volume Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies (2016). His many publications on technology include “Too Many Notes: Computers, Complexity and Culture in Voyager” (Leonardo Music Journal) and “Why Do We Want Our Computers To Improvise?” (Oxford Handbook of Algorithmic Music).

Lewis holds honorary doctorates from the University of Edinburgh, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Oberlin College, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, New England Conservatory, New College of Florida, and Birmingham City University, among others.

Photo by Maurice Weiss

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