The 2019 SEAMUS Award will be presented to Gordon Mumma at the SEAMUS National Conference banquet at the Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory at Berklee.
Gordon Mumma (born 30 March 1935, in Framingham, Massachusetts) studied piano and horn in Chicago and Detroit, and began his career as a horn player in symphonic and chamber music. From 1952 to 1966 he lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where in 1957 he co-founded with Robert Ashley the Cooperative Studio for Electronic Music and the now-historic ONCE Festivals of Contemporary Music.
From 1966 to 1974 he was, with John Cage and David Tudor, one of the three composer-musicians with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, for which he composed four commissioned works. From 1966 until 1977 he also performed with the Sonic Arts Union, whose members included Robert Ashley, David Behrman, and Alvin Lucier. Additionally, Mumma has also collaborated with a diverse roster of notable artists.
Mumma has toured and recorded in North and South America, Japan, and Europe. His best-known engineering design was for an electronic music live-performance system at EXPO-70 (Osaka, Japan) in collaboration with David Tudor. His writings on the contemporary performance arts and technology are published in several languages. In 2015 the University of Illinois Press published a major collection of his writings in the series “Music in American Life,” Cybersonic Arts: Adventures in American New Music, edited with commentary by Michelle Fillion.
Mumma has been on the faculties of the University of Illinois, the Ferienkurse für Neue Musik (Darmstadt, Germany), and the Cursos Latinoamericanos de Música Contemporánea (Buenos Aires, Montevideo, and Santiago, R.D.). From 1975 to 1994 he was Professor of Music at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and in 1985 and 1987 was a visiting Professor at the University of California, San Diego. At Mills College in Oakland, California, he was the Darius Milhaud Professor in 1981, Distinguished Visiting Composer in 1989, and the Jean Macduff Vaux Composer-in-Residence in 1999.
Mumma’s musical compositions include works for acoustical instruments (mostly solo piano, and chamber music), as well as for electronic and computer resources. His commissions include works for Radio Bremen (Germany), the Biennale di Venezia, the New York State Arts Council, the Oregon Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. In 2000 he received the biennial John Cage Award from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts.
Mumma’s recent work as a composer and performer has focused on solo instrumental and chamber music. Some of his recent solo music has employed live-electronic elements, including music for the 2006 Gaudeamus Festival in Holland. In 2018 his piano music was featured at the Sonic Arts Union retrospective at the Issue Project Room in Brooklyn, New York. He lives primarily in Canada.
The SEAMUS Award acknowledges the important contributions of its recipients to the field of electro-acoustic music. The recipient is selected by the Board of Directors of SEAMUS. The prize was first awarded in 1987 and a list of previous recipients can be found here.