Peter Gordon

PETER GORDON is known for the clarity and wit of his compositions. Gordon first gained attention with his Love of Life Orchestra (LOLO), which he founded in New York in 1977. Working with LOLO-which has ranged in size from a trio to over a dozen of New York's top musicians-Gordon has performed hundreds of concerts internationally at venues as diverse as concert halls (Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall), opera houses (Brooklyn Academy of Music, Amsterdam's Het Musiktheater), festivals, nightclubs (Bottom Line, Knitting Factory, CBGB) and theaters (DTW, La Mama).

Gordon has composed music for many plays and music-theater works, winning an Obie award in 1985 for his score Falso Movimento's Otello. Gordon's music has also been featured in the work of leading dance companies, including those of Alvin Ailey, Stephen Petronio, Donald Byrd, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane and Molissa Fenley. Gordon received a Bessie Award in 1985 for his score for Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane's Secret Pastures, which premiered at BAM/Next Wave. His opera, The Strange Life of Ivan Osokin, with librettist Constance Congdon and Lawrence Sacharow, premiered at La Mama in April 1994.

Peter Gordon's collaborations with video artist Kit Fitzgerald have been at the forefront of live video-music theater. Since 1981 they have been creating live performances and videotapes which explore the intersections of visual art with music. Works include The Passion of Passion (1985), Spectaccalo (1987) (both presented at La Mama in NYC), Return of the Animals (Torino, Italy), and The Return of the Native, which was performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival in 1988, Tucano Artes Festival, Rio de Janeiro in 1989 and Amsterdam's Het Musiktheater in 1990. Their duet, Tone Poems and Video Paintings, toured Japan for the USIA in 1992. While Gordon and Fitzgerald were in Japan, Tokyo Broadcasting System produced Painted Melodies, Spider's Garden, an hour-long hi-definition television (HDTV) program featuring Gordon, Fitzgerald and their work, which won the 1993 Grand Prize (Video Art) at the International Electronic Cinema Festival in Montreux.

Gordon's music was featured in film, including John Patrick Shanley's Joe Versus the Volcano (Amblin/Warner Bros.), which starred Tom Hanks and was produced by Steven Spielberg. He composed music for Viola Stephan's The Journey From Petersburg to Moscow, a German feature-documentary about Russia in 1991 and worked as arranger on films such as the award winning In The Soup (dir. Alexandre Rockwell).

In 1990, Gordon spent ten weeks in Seoul, Korea, where he studied Korean music (including the double-reeded p'iri) and performed with Korean artists. Gordon returned to Asia in 1991 and spent 7 months in Japan. While in Japan, Gordon studied the ancient Gagaku music and the hichi-riki.

Peter Gordon's recordings include Still Life and the Deadman (Newtone 1994), which features the Balanescu String Quartet. Other recordings include: Star Jaws (Lovely Records 1978), Geneva and Extended Niceties (Newtone 1980, reissue 1992), Innocent (CBS Masterworks 1986), Otello (ROIR cassettes 1987), Brooklyn (CBS Masterworks 1987) and Leningrad Xpress (Newtone 1990). Gordon's work has also appeared on recordings by Robert Ashley, David Van Tieghem, Arthur Russell, Laurie Anderson, Rhys Chatman, Suzanne Vega, Flying Lizards and David Johansen.

Gordon has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (Inter-Arts and Opera-Music Theater programs), the New York State Council on the Arts (Music and Media programs), the Meet the Composer/Lila Wallace Commissioning Grant and Arts International. Gordon was a 1988 fellow of the DAAD Berlin Artists Program and a Japan-US Friendship Commission Creative Artists Fellow in 1991.

Peter Gordon was born in 1951 in New York City and spent his childhood in Virginia. He began playing piano at the age of seven and switched to clarinet at nine. His parents' record collection included New Orleans jazz, Broadway shows and classical music. In addition, he listened to D.C.'s R&B radio stations. At the age of thirteen, Gordon moved with his family to Munich, Germany, where his father was stationed as a radio-journalist for the Voice of America. In Munich, Gordon was exposed to a wide range of European classical and contemporary music, as well as jazz and R&B brought over by American servicemen and touring performers. In the mid-sixties, Munich was on the touring circuit for the up-and-coming British bands of the time, and Gordon spent much time in the clubs where he heard groups such as The Animals, Kinks, Yardbirds and Rolling Stones. Gordon's compositions reflect this early exposure to a wide variety of cultures and music.

In Munich, Gordon studied saxophone with Don Menza and music theory with Peter Jona Korn. He received his B.A. in music from the University of California (San Diego), where he studied composition with Kenneth Gaburo and Roger Reynolds. Gordon further pursued graduate studies at the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College, where he studied with Robert Ashley and Terry Riley. In 1975, Gordon moved back to New York City. In 1995 Peter Gordon was named Assistant Professor of Contemporary Music at The College of Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Gordon's work has also appeared on recordings by Robert Ashley, David Van Tieghem, Arthur Russell, Laurie Anderson, Rhys Chatman, Suzanne Vega, Flying Lizards and David Johansen.