Stuart Dempster, born in Berkeley, California in 1936, studied performance and composition at San Francisco State College. From 1962-66 he was principal trombone in the Oakland Symphony under Gerhard Samuel and, since 1968, he has been on the faculty of University of Washington. Grants include: Creative Associate at SUNYAB (1967-68); Fellow in the Center for Advanced Study, University of Illinois (1971-72); Fulbright Scholar in Australia (1973) where he studied aboriginal didjeridu; a NEA Composer Grant (1978); US/UK Fellowship (1979); Guggenheim Fellowship (1981). His book The Modern Trombone: A Definition of Its Idioms was first published in 1979 and he has recorded on several labels including Columbia, Deep Listening, Nonesuch, and New Albion, the latter having produced his "Abbey" recording (NA 013) which has become, in the words of one reviewer: "…a cult classic."
Dempster tours regularly as a solo recitalist performing his own works as well as his commissioned works by Berio, Erb, Erickson, and others, and also with the Deep Listening Band. His work exemplified by Sound Massage Parlor, and environmental/site specific works such as SWAMI (State of Washington As a Musical Instrument) have earned him a reputation as a composer/performer whose work is at once deep, meditative, and amusing. Deep Listening Band recordings include: award winning Deep Listening, with Pauline Oliveros and Panaiotis, recorded in the old Fort Worden (Port Townsend, WA) cistern with a 45" reverberation, released in May 1989 on New Albion Records (NA 022); Troglodyte's Delight, recorded in an old limestone quary in upstate New York, released in September 1990 on ¿What Next? Records (WN 0003); and The Ready Made Boomerang, recorded in the above mentioned "Cistern Chapel" and released in January 1992 by New Albion Records (NA 044).
Dempster was the producer for all three of these CD's. In 1993-94 he was composer-in-residence in Minneapolis with Seattle's New Performance Group as part of the Music in Motion project. Also in 1993 Dempster was commissioned by Meet The Composer's Composer/Choreographer Project for a collaboration with Merce Cunningham for what has turned out to be highly acclaimed performances in the US and Europe. The music for that project was recently released entitled Underground Overlays from the Cistern Chapel on New Albion Records (NA 076).
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