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Glenn Branca

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Biography

Glenn Branca's compositions center around multiple guitars -- four or more, heavily amplified -- augmented by a rock-based rhythm section of drums and bass. In later works, the composer began adding other instruments, including mallet guitar, keyboards, and occasionally a second drummer. Branca's minimalist compositions frequently require unusual guitar tunings -- more recent works have them strung with two sets of three strings tuned an octave apart. Many of downtown New York City's more notable experimental guitarists have been a part of his ensemble, including Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo of the punk rock band Sonic Youth. Branca studied performing arts at Emerson College in Boston. Much of his '70s output was composed for experimental theater, and was performed by his two ensembles, Theoretical Girls and Static. In the '80s his compositions for the Glenn Branca Ensemble included the several symphonies for which he is best known. He's received many commissions from such groups as the Twyla Tharp Dance Company, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Bang on a Can, to name just a few. Branca's music has also been heard in films and performances by Peter Greenaway, the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, the Joffrey Ballet, Eric Bogosian, and many others. Branca's 12th guitar symphony was performed at London's Barbican Centre in 1998. His works have also been performed by traditional symphony orchestras, including the London Sinfonietta, the Minnesota Opera Orchestra, and the Graz Festival Orchestra. ~ Chris Kelsey

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