Joan La Barbara — composer, performer, sound artist, and actor — is renowned for her unique vocabulary of experimental and extended vocal techniques, influencing generations of composers and singers. Awards include the Foundation for Contemporary Arts John Cage Award (2016); Premio Internazionale Demetrio Stratos; DAAD-Berlin and Civitella Ranieri Artist-in-Residencies; Guggenheim Fellowship; seven National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, and The American Music Center’s Letter of Distinction for her significant contributions to contemporary American music. Her numerous commissions include composing for multiple voices, chamber ensembles, orchestra, interactive technology, and soundscores for dance, video, and film, including for voice and electronics for Sesame Street, broadcast worldwide since 1977. Her multilayered textural compositions were presented at Brisbane Biennial, Festival d’Automne à Paris, Warsaw Autumn, MaerzMusik Berlin, and Lincoln Center, among others. She was artistic director of the multiyear Carnegie Hall series When Morty Met John, and co-founder of the performing composers collective Ne(x)tworks.
Ms. La Barbara’s film work includes appearing as actor in artist Matthew Barney’s River of Fundament and Aleksandar Kostic’s award-winning Parallel Dreams; with Jóhann Jóhannsson, she co-composed cues for Arrival (2016), incorporating her original music from Erin. Recordings include ShamanSong, Sound Paintings, Voice is the Original Instrument, Tapesongs, 73 Poems, and The Early Immersive Music of Joan La Barbara. For her sound painting in solitude this fear is lived, inspired by Agnes Martin’s minimalist drawings, she seated the American Composers Orchestra around and among the audience in Carnegie’s Zankel Hall.
Joan La Barbara is a member of the Music Composition Artist Faculty at New York University and the College of Performing Arts Faculty at Mannes / The New School. Composer and publisher member of ASCAP, and member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA, she is composing a new opera, Dreams of Water Beyond One’s Depth, with a libretto by Monique Truong inspired by the lives and work of Virginia Woolf and Joseph Cornell.