Michael J. Schumacher

Michael J. Shumacher studied piano since the age of five and as a teen, taught himself the guitar, forming a number of improvising bands while in high school. He began composing at an early age and studied at Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington, where he majored in composition. In 1982, he won a prize for his composition skills. He also studied piano with the renowned interpreter John Ogden and enrolled at the Juilliard school where he earned the doctorate degree in 1988. On the path to becoming a serious classical composer, interests in rock, experimental music, and improvisation led him to the New York avant-garde music scene and in 1991, he began to work with minimalist composer La Monte Young. He began collaboration with fellow minimalists -- the acclaimed cellist Charles Curtis and guitarist Donald Miller of Borbetomagus -- and the three are collectively the Donald Miller Trio. Schumacher has composed for all manner of instruments and styles, including two symphonies, two song cycles, and numerous works for solo piano in the minimalist/avant-garde, rock, and ambient styles. His work with electronics, specializing in computer generated sound and processing of acoustic instruments is similar to the methods used by Brian Eno in his ambient works; he uses many instruments including prepared electric guitar, piano, and lap-top computer. Many of his pieces are presented as "sound installations," a style between composition and sculpture which history stems from the pioneering experimental works of Max Neuhaus and David Tudor. In the '90s he produced music by David First, Ben Manley, Matt Rogalsky, David Berhman, Tom Hamilton, Ron Kuivila, Phill Niblock, Lee Ranaldo, Dean Roberts, and Steve Roden in his New York music gallery Studio 5 Beekman Street. His drone-based guitar work is documented on Fidicin Drones, a CD of improvisations in which he used bows to produce symphonic drones from an electric guitar. ~ Sylvie Harrison

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