Cindy Cox

  • Professor and Department Chair, Composition

  • Phone: (510) 642-2678
  • Office Location: 104 Morrison
  • Office Hours: Mondays: 1:00pm-2:00pm
  • email
Cindy Cox, Department Chair

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Radical, traditional, original, archetypal—neither modernist nor neo-tonal, Cindy Cox (b.1961) derives her “post-tonal” musical language from acoustics, innovations in technology, harmonic resonance, and poetic allusion. Naturally unfolding through linked strands of association, timbral fluctuation, and cyclic temporal processes, her compositions synthesize old and new musical designs.

As Robert Carl notes in Fanfare, “Cox writes music that demonstrates an extremely refined and imaginative sense of instrumental color and texture…This is well-wrought, imaginative, and not easily classifiable music.” Her work, always engaged with novel approaches to sound and instrumental color, combines with formality “to yield great depth of meaning and a playful appeal” (NewMusicBox, American Music Center).  In the San Francisco Chronicle, Joshua Kosman writes “as always with Cox’s work, there’s a layer of ingratiating charm that makes the music a delight to listen to”.

Cox’s music is noted for its special tunings, harmonies, and textural colorations, such as the new viola and piano work Turner and the piano trio la mar amarga.  Her pieces also frequently make use of technology, as in the amplified sextet with digital effects Axis Mundi, and the trombone quartet and interactive electronic work Nature is.  A large part of her oeuvre are works for solo piano, and as a pianist she performs and records her own piano music, including the recent Sylvan pieces, the large cycle Hierosgamos, and The Blackbird whistling/Or just after. The newer texted works, such as Singing the lines (recently premiered by Lucy Shelton and the Berkeley Contemporary Chamber Players) and The Other Side of the World for flute and electronics evolved through long association with her husband, poet John Campion.

She has received awards and commissions from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Fromm Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Composers Forum, ASCAP, Meet the Composer, and the Gemeinschaft der Kunstlerinnen und Kunstfreunde International Competition for Women Composers. She has been a Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, the Aspen Music Festival, the MacDowell Colony, and the Civitella Ranieri and William Walton Foundations in Italy.

Recent performances have taken place at the Festival di Musica Contemporanea at the American Academy in Rome (Four Studies of Light and Dark), the Festival Architecture et Musique in Angers, France (The Other Side of the World), the Kosmos Frauenraum in Vienna (Hysteria, filmed for Austrian National Television), Münster Gesellschaft für Neue Musik, the REDCAT/Cal Arts Theater in Los Angeles, Carnegie and Merkin Halls in New York City (Hierosgamos and The Blackbird whistling/Or just after), the National Gallery in Washington (Hierosgamos), the Library of Congress (Into the Wild), the Kennedy Center (Cathedral Spires), the Los Angeles Philharmonic Green Umbrella series (Primary Colors), and by notable ensembles such as the Kronos Quartet, the American Composers Orchestra, the National Symphony, the Alexander Quartet, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Women’s Philharmonic, Composers’ Inc, and the Earplay Ensemble.

A new recording on the Albany label features the large piano cycle Hierosgamos (performed by the composer), Axis Mundi (Earplay Ensemble), and Nature is (Continental Trombone Quartet).  She is also recorded on Capstone, Arpa Viva, Inflorescence, CRI (currently New World), Mark, and Valve-Heartz of Cologne. Her scores are published through World a Tuning Fork Press (www.worldatuningfork.com).

Cox earned her doctorate in 1992 from Indiana University, and studied composition with Harvey Sollberger, Donald Erb, Eugene O’Brien, and John Eaton; she has also studied with John Harbison at the Tanglewood Music Center, and Bernard Rands and Jacob Druckman at the Aspen Music Festival. She is a notable pianist, working with Mozart and Schubert specialist Lili Kraus. Cindy Cox is presently a Professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

Compositions/Performances/Publications

SOLO WORKS

The Open Frame (2004), for solo harpsichord, 5’
commissioned by Davitt Moroney

The Other Side of the World (2003), for flute and electronics, 4’
commissioned by Nina Assimakopoulas, as part of the “Laurels” project (commissioning American women composers)
premiere Houghton College, March 2004
to be recorded summer 2004

Hierosgamos (2003), for solo piano, 30’
premiered by Cindy Cox, piano
Edge Festival, Berkeley, June 2003

The blackbird whistling/Or just after (2001), for solo piano, 4’
commissioned by Sarah Cahill
premiered December 2001, Merkin Hall, New York City

Hysteria (2000), trombone and live electronics, 9’
commissioned by Abbie Conant, former principle of the Munich Philharmonic
premiere Nov, 2000, in Trossingen, Germany
Tempo Festival of Contemporary Music, Berkeley, CA, June 2001
Stuttgard, Germany, July 2001
Vienna, Aug 2001
East Coast Tour, spring 2002

White Moths (1994), trombone and electronic effects, 8′
commissioned and premiered by Andrew Glendening, trombonist, 1995

Darsana II (1994), solo piano, 9′
premiered by Cindy Cox, piano
University of New Mexico, April 1994
Darsana I (1993), Disklavier, 9′
grant from the University of California, Berkeley
premiered by Cindy Cox, San Jose State Univ., Nov. 1993
Karen Rosenak, pianist, UC Berkeley, August 1994
KPFA radio, live performance, Cindy Cox, 1994

Elegy (1990), violin solo, 5′
premiered by Naomi Katz, Indiana University, 1990
Charles Ives Center for American Music, 1990
Indiana State Contemporary Music Festival, 1990

CHAMBER MUSIC

moon a bed to dream in (2002), for twelve performers, 10’
commissioned by the San Francisco Conservatory
premiere March 2002, Hellman Hall, San Francisco

World a tuning fork (2001), for alto saxophone, contrabass, percussion, and piano, 10’
commissioned by the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players
premiered at the Yerba Buena Forum, San Francisco Feb. 2002
Edge Festival, Berkeley, June 2003

The Cave of Swimmers (1998), flute, cello, and piano, 15’
commissioned by the Hathor Ensemble
premiered at the Ethical Society, Philadelphia, May 1998

Back to Square One (1998), violin and piano, 10’
premiered by Karen Bentley and Karen Rosenak, American Composers Forum,
May 1998
Presidio, San Francisco, August 1999

Columba aspexit, after Hildegard von Bingen (1997, revised 2002), string quartet, 21’
commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts
premiered by the Kronos Quartet, Sept. 1997
recording by the Alexander Quartet, June 2002

Into the Wild (1997), amplified violin, saxophone, Mallet Kat, electronic drums,
keyboard, samplers, electric guitar, 11’
commissioned by the Fromm Foundation
premiered by the Paul Dresher Ensemble, Nov. 1997
Library of Congress, March 1998
Theater Artaud, San Francisco, May 1998
Yerba Buena Forum, San Francisco, November 1999

Geode (1996), flute, clarinet, cello, percussion, piano, 14’
commissioned and premiered by the Earplay Ensemble,
Yerba Buena Forum, San Francisco, May 1997
Sirius Ensemble, UCSD, November 1997
recorded by the Earplay Ensemble, May 1999

Songs on Texts of Mary Oliver (1997), soprano, clarinet, percussion, piano, 12’
premiered at Hertz Hall, Berkeley, April 1997
Leda Yager, soprano

Primary Colors (1995), clarinet, violin, piano, 12’
commissioned by the Verdehr Trio and Cal Performances, 1995
premiered at Hertz Hall, Berkeley, 1996
Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group,
Green Umbrella Series, March 1998
Larry Pech Dance Company (choreographed), San Francisco, November 1999
recorded for CRI, 2002

Piece in Two Halves (1992), flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, 12′
previewed at the Tanglewood Music Festival, Aug. 1992
premiered by the San Francisco Contemporary Chamber Players, March 1993
American Women Composers, Inc, Washington, DC June 1992

[Four Studies of Light and Dark] (1989), piano and percussion, 14′
premiered by Cindy Cox and Kay Stonefelt, Indiana University, 1990
Moscow Composers Union, Moscow, Russia, 1993
Society for New Music, Syracuse, 1993
Composer’s Inc, San Francisco, 1991
recorded on the Capstone Label, 1993

Coriolis (1989), trumpet, trombone, piano, 10′
premiered by Andrew Glendening, David Dzubay, and Jennifer Peterson, 1990
CD recording on Mark Records Label, 1995

Barriers: Two/One (1988), flute or violin, clarinet or soprano sax, piano, 10′
premiered by Tridib Pal, Susan McGinn, and Cindy Cox, Indiana Univ., 1990
Verdehr Trio, College Music Society, National Convention, San Diego, 1993
Verdehr Trio, Merkin Concert Hall, New York City, 1993

Sonnets to Orpheus (1989), soprano, flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, trombone,
percussion, harpsichord, 2 violins, viola, cello, 20’
premiere by ALEA III, Theodore Antoniou conducting, Boston, 1992

Woven Rains (1988), flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, 2 percussion, piano, harp, 2 violins,
viola, cello, bass, 15′
premiered by the Northwestern New Music Ensemble, 1988
North Texas New Music Ensemble, March 1993

WORKS WITH TECHNOLOGY

The Other Side of the World (2003), for flute and electronics, 4’
commissioned by Nina Assimakopoulas, as part of the “Laurels” project (commissioning American women composers)
to be premiered and recorded in 2004

World a tuning fork (2001), for amplified alto saxophone, contrabass, percussion, and
piano, and tape, 10’
commission by the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players
premiered at Yerba Buena Forum Feb. 2002
Edge Festival, June 2003

Hysteria (2000), trombone and live electronics, 9’
commissioned by Abbie Conant, former principle of the Munich Philharmonic
premiered Nov, 2000, in Trossingen, Germany
Tempo Festival of Contemporary Music, Berkeley, CA, June 2001
Stuttgard, Germany, July 2001
Vienna, Aug 2001

Into the Wild (1997), amplified violin, saxophone, Mallet Kat, electronic drums,
keyboard, samplers, electric guitar, 11’
commissioned by the Fromm Foundation
premiered by the Paul Dresher Ensemble, Nov. 1997
Library of Congress, March 1998
Theater Artaud, San Francisco, May 1998
Yerba Buena Forum, San Francisco, November 1999

White Moths (1994), trombone and electronic effects, 8′
commissioned and premiered by Andrew Glendening, trombonist, 1995

Darsana I (1993), Disklavier, 9′
grant from the University of California, Berkeley
premiered by Cindy Cox, San Jose State Univ., Nov. 1993
Karen Rosenak, pianist, UC Berkeley, August 1994

ORCHESTRA AND LARGE ENSEMBLE

De rerum natura (1999), orchestra, 8’
commissioned by the Women’s Philharmonic
premiered, San Francisco, Herbst Hall, Feb. 2000

Darsana III (1994), chamber orchestra, 9′
American Composers Orchestra, reading, 1994
Cathedral Spires (1993), orchestra, 17′
commissioned by the Women’s Philharmonic
premiere performance, May 1993
National Symphony, Leonard Slatkin conducting, Jan. 1997
National Symphony, east coast tour, spring 1997

A Tree Deep-rooted Yet Dancing (1992), orchestra, 21′
premiere by the Oakland Symphony, January 1993
Indiana University, March 1993

Sonnets to Orpheus (1989), chamber orchestra, 20’
premiere by ALEA III, Theodore Antoniou conducting, Boston, 1992
(single strings version)

Woven Rains (1988), chamber orchestra, 15’
June in Buffalo festival orchestra, 1989