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John McCowen is a New York based composer and performer whose work focuses on extending the possibilities of the clarinet family. John embraces long-form drones, difference tones, and beating harmonics as a means to extrude the dimensionality within - treating the clarinet as an acoustic synthesizer. His works for ensemble utilize spectral techniques to superimpose the timbral/sonic characteristics of the clarinet onto a grouping of instruments. This may include the clarinet as a solo instrument while the ensemble functions as a resonant system.

John was a founding member of the Chicago avant-rock group, Wei Zhongle, where he performed on amplified clarinet/electronics. His most recent release of three compositions for solo contrabass clarinet, Solo Contra (IARC0015), is out now on International Anthem Records. His discography includes releases on International Anthem, Astral Spirits, Cairn Desk, NNA Tapes, New Atlantis, Self Sabotage, Edible Onion, and DAAANG. He has toured extensively throughout North America as well as trips to Europe and Asia. These performances/spaces include Le Guess Who Festival(NL), Norður og Niður Festival(IS), Hot Air Music Festival, Bowling Green New Music Festival, Supersonic Festival(ENG), Berkeley Art Museum(BAMPFA), The Stone, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, International Clarinet Festival 2014, and more. John was the 2017 artist-in-residence at Lijiang Studio in Yunnan, China. He received the Elizabeth Mills Crothers Award for music composition in 2016 from Mills College where he also received an MA in Music Composition.

PHOTO BY PETER GANNUSHKIN