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Rhys Chatham

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Rhys Chatham (b. New York City) is an American avant-garde composer, guitarist, and trumpet player. He currently lives in France.

In the early 1970s Chatham was the first music director of The Kitchen in New York. His early compositions owed a significant debt to La Monte Young and other minimalists.

His concert productions included experimenters Maryanne Amacher, Robert Ashley, Philip Glass, Meredith Monk, Pauline Oliveros, Steve Reich, and early alternative-rockers such as Brian Eno, Robert Fripp and Fred Frith.

By 1977, Chatham’s music was heavily influenced by punk rock (having seen an early Ramones concert), particularly what would come to be named No Wave (influenced in the minimalist leanings of Tony Conrad, who he played with in an early group). That year, he began performing Guitar Trio around downtown Manhattan with an ensemble that included Glenn Branca. During this period he wrote several works for large guitar ensembles, including Drastic Classicism, a collaboration with dancer Karole Armitage.

Chatham began taking trumpet lessons in 1983, and his more recent works explore improvisatory trumpet solos (performed by the composer, employing much of the same amplification and effects that he acquired with the guitar) over synthesized dance rhythms by the composer Martin Wheeler, released on ninja tunes in the late nineties. In 2002, he enjoyed a resurgence following the release of the boxed set An Angel Moves Too Fast to See, whose title comes from Chatham’s composition for 100 guitars.

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