Paul Dresher is one of the foremost and most internationally recognized composers of his generation. Noted for his ability to integrate diverse musical influences into his own coherent and unique personal style, he is pursuing many forms of musical expression including experimental opera and music theater, chamber and orchestral composition, live instrumental electro-acoustic chamber music performances and scores for theater, dance, and film.
He has received commissions from the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Spoleto Festival USA, the Kronos Quartet, the San Francisco Symphony, Walker Arts Center, Meet the Composer, University of Iowa, and the American Music Theater Festival. He has performed or had his works performed throughout North America, Asia and Europe. Venues have included the Munich State Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the Festival d'Automne à Paris, the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival, the Minnesota Opera, Arts Summit Indonesia 1995, Festival Interlink in Japan, and New Music America in 1981, 1983, 1985, 1988 and 1989.
His evening-length collaboration with choreographer Margaret Jenkins, The Gates, premiered at Jacob's Pillow and opened the 1994 Serious Fun Festival at Lincoln Center. In 1993, Dresher premiered his new "electric chamber band" on a five city tour of Japan as part of Festival Interlink. This ensemble performs the works of a broad range of contemporary composers utilizing a hybrid orchestration which combines both acoustic and electronic instrumentation. This Ensemble and has since commissioned several works from some of the most innovative of today's composers and has toured the U.S. and to Europe and Indonesia.
As Artistic Director of the Paul Dresher Ensemble, he has guided the creation of the "American Trilogy", a set of music theater works which address different facets of American culture, in collaboration with writer/performer Rinde Eckert. The trilogy began with Slow Fire (198588), developed with Power Failure (198889) and was completed in 1990 with Pioneer, a collaboration that includes visual artist Terry Allen, actress Jo Harvey Allen, tenor John Duykers and director Robert Woodruff.
Recordings of his works have been released on the Lovely Music, New World, Music and Arts, O.O. Discs, Starkland and New Albion labels. In 1993, New Albion released Dark Blue Circumstance, containing both chamber and electronic works. Opposites Attract, his collaboration with multi-woodwind performer Ned Rothenberg, was released by New World Records in 1991, Minmax Music/Starkland released Slow Fire in 1992 and in 1995 Starkland released Casa Vecchia, containing both electronic and chamber compositions. He has worked as producer on several recording projects and he was the consultant for engineering and production on John Adams' 1993 Nonesuch release Hoodoo Zephyr.
Born in Los Angeles in 1951, Dresher received his BA in Music from U.C. Berkeley and his M.A. in Composition from U.C. San Diego where he studied with Robert Erickson, Roger Reynolds, Pauline Oliveros and Bernard Rands. He has had a long time interest in the music of Asia and Africa, studying Ghanian drumming with C.K. and Kobla Ladzekpo, Hindustani classical music with Nikhil Banerjee as well as Balinese and Javanese music.