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Creative Music Studio

Woodstock, NY            

The Creative Music Studio (CMS) provides immersive opportunities for musicians and listeners to deepen and broaden their musical sensitivity, expression, and understanding through workshops, recordings, and concerts worldwide. Through its various programs, the organization champions new creative music while bringing together musicians and music-lovers from all nationalities and styles.

Formed in 1971 by musician-educators Ornette Coleman, Karl Berger, and Ingrid Sertso, CMS’ early years were shaped by a number of influential artists who served on the organization’s advisory board, including John Cage, Gil Evans, Buckminster Fuller, George Russell, Willem DeKooning and Gunther Schuller. Throughout its nearly 50 year history, CMS has run workshops for musicians of all skill levels and put together countless collaborations featuring a number of visionary musicians as guest instructors and performers, including Pauline Oliveros, Julius Hemphill, Abdullah Ibrahim, John Zorn, and Steve Reich, among scores of others.

Today, the organization is led by Artistic Director + President and CEO Billy Martin and Artistic Directors Karl Berger, Ingrid Sertso, Steven Bernstein, and Peter Apfelbaum.

Each year, CMS sponsors a variety of workshops across the United States that introduce musicians of all skills levels to key organizational concepts including “Music Mind,” a methodology pioneered by CMS Artistic Director and Co-Founder Karl Berger that promotes cross-cultural collaboration and encourages musicians to concentrate closely on the playing of their fellow collaborators. Music Mind remains on the vanguard of experimental music as it continues to open new doors for young musicians and pave the way for bold new sounds.

The CMS Improvisers Orchestra (CIO) serves as the organization’s flagship performance group, featuring a rotating cast of more than 100 musicians representing dozens of different styles and traditions. In addition to providing paid performance opportunities for musicians and connecting a diverse array of artists in unique ensembles not found anywhere else, CIO demonstrates the power of CMS’ guiding principles by showcasing the infinite possibilities of improvisational music to audiences across New York State.

In the coming year, CMS will expand its programming to include online masterclasses to make the organization’s teachings even more accessible, launch a free podcast featuring interviews with major names in experimental music and original recordings of special collaborations, roll out a new curriculum designed to reach students in New York schools, and launch a record label that will disseminate new recordings by CIO and CMS-sponsored collaborations as well as archival recordings from the past five decades.

Billy Martin Conducts CMS Improvisers Orchestra with Special Guest Artist Arturo O’Farrill

Billy Martin conducts the CMS Improvisers Orchestra with special guest artist Arturo O’Farrill on April 21st, 2018 at El Taller in New York City. This show was part of a performance series funded by NEA and NYSCA that blended contemporary music with art created by Latin American artists reflective of Harlem’s arts scene. The series highlights CIO’s commitment to one-of-a-kind collaborations designed to create challenging, inventive artistic works.

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BILLY MARTIN CONDUCTS CMS IMPROVISERS ORCHESTRA WITH SPECIAL GUEST ARTIST CALIDAD DE LA LUZ

In this clip taken at El Taller in New York City, Billy Martin conducts the CMS Improvisers Orchestra (CIO) while poet Calidad de la Luz performs, demonstrating the interplay between different artistic traditions and disciplines that is at the heart of the orchestra’s mission. This show was part of a 2018 performance series funded by NEA and NYSCA that combined challenging contemporary music with the musical and literary talents of Latin American artists reflective of Harlem’s arts scene.

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