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Joe Diebes

Brooklyn, NY      

Joe Diebes creates works that converge around the categories of music, visual art, and performance.  From 1996-2003 he was a core member as well as the musical force behind the hybrid arts group GAle GAtes et al. described by The New York Times as “an adventurous troupe with one foot in the world of postmodern art and the other in downtown performance.” Since then he has continued to create performance work that fuses sound, visual media, and the human voice into a unique form of contemporary opera.  His opera environment, STRANGE BIRDS, received its U.K. premiere in 2005 at Tramway (Glasgow) and his sound-theatre collaboration with Phil Soltanoff, I/O, was presented at Fusebox (Austin 2007) and Theatre Garonne (Toulouse 2008).   He is currently developing a new opera WOW with director David Levine and poet Christian Hawkey as well as a sound-driven performance work, BOTCH, in residency at HERE Arts Center.  He has received support from NYSCA, The MAP Fund, LMCC, Franklin Furnace, The Jerome Foundation.  Residencies / fellowships include Yaddo, Djerassi, HERE, LMCC, BRIC Media Arts, STEIM (Amsterdam), and the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art.  He has exhibited internationally his sound installations, video, and works on paper for art galleries, museums, and public spaces including Paul Rodgers/9W (New York), The ’06 Olympics (Torino, Italy), Yuanfen Gallery (Beijing), Prix Ars Electronica (Honorary Mention 2009, Linz Austria) and the Liverpool Biennial.


Scherzo is a music film that explores the limits of human virtuosity and the convergence of human and machine. Energetic textural and melodic fragments were recorded by cellist Rubin Kodheli, whose performance was filmed from ten different camera angles (cinematographer, Andrew Federman). In the video installation these fragments are recombined extended musical climax. The classical logic of preparation, climax, and denouement is replaced by a technologically hyper-charged present.

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excerpt from Strange Birds

Strange Birds is a contemporary chamber opera that surrounds the audience, providing an immersive environment in which to reflect on the essential nature of communication, language and social behavior in a world increasingly mediated by technology. There is no libretto and the singers communicate in wordless phrases inspired by birdsong. The orchestra is DJ’d live by myself using samples from 19th century orchestral music.

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