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Philip Blackburn

St.Paul, MN         

Philip Blackburn was born in Cambridge, England, and studied music there as a Choral Scholar at Clare College (BA, MA). He earned his Ph.D. in Composition from the University of Iowa where he studied with Kenneth Gaburo and began work on publishing the Harry Partch archives. Blackburn’s book, Enclosure Three: Harry Partch, won an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award. He has worked at the American Composers Forum since 1991, running the innova Recordings label (which has been called “the nation’s premiere label for American new music”) while developing re-granting programs (notably the Jerome commissioning program, McKnight Fellowships) and opportunities for composers (such as the Sonic Circuits International Electronic Music Festival, Continental Harmony, and Bamboofest).   He is also a public artist specializing in sound — a composer/environmental sound-artist — and has served as teaching artist for school residencies connected with the Flint Hills International Children’s Festival, creating multi-media performances using home-made instruments.  He composed the soundtrack for the Wild Music: Sounds and Songs of Life exhibition initiated by the Science Museum of Minnesota now traveling the nation.  His Car Horn Fanfare for 8 ArtCars opened the Northern Spark Festival, and his Duluth Harbor Serenade was heard by thousands of people during Duluth Superior Pride. Blackburn’s works have been heard in ships’ harbors, state fairs, forests, and coming out of storm sewers, as well as in galleries and on concert stages. He has incorporated brainwave sensors and dowsing rods in performance as well as balloon flutes, car horns, smart phones, and wind-powered harps. He created a multi-media hyperopera about Cragmor Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Colorado Springs. That work, The Sun Palace is now a 60-minute indie film. Signal to Noise magazine called Blackburn “a startlingly original voice, one that encompasses all periods of music history in a uniquely engaging vision.” Blackburn has published articles on topics such as Vietnamese, Garifuna, and Cuban music, the social dynamics of ensemble performance, and the use of sound in public art. He received a 2003 Bush Artist Fellowship, a 2011 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant, and has built an art-house in Belize.  His house renovation project in St. Paul was featured in the New York Times. He is now working on a large scale kinetic sculpture for St. Paul’s Beacon Bluff NextGen industrial park on the site of the original 3M headquarters, and on developing instruments for the Blue Man Group Residency at Minnesota Children’s Museum.
•     Deep Listening Institute Participant (led by Pauline Oliveros), NY, 2003 •     Ph.D. (Music), The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, 1989. •     M.A. (Music), University of Cambridge, England, 1989. •     M.A. (Music), The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, 1987. •     B.A. Hons. (Music) with Choral Exhibition, Clare College, University of Cambridge, 1985.  
•      Director of Artist Services/Innova Recordings Director, American Composers Forum, 1991- •       Consultant for Science Museum of Minnesota Biomusic Committee, 2005- •       Consultant/producer for Musicmavericks.org (MPR) website, 2003 •       Represented Minnesota Composers Forum as first US arts organization to set up links with Vietnam, 1993-94. 
•        2013 MRAC Next Step and McKnight Community Development grant for Pendulum Beacon Kinetic Sculpture at Beacon Bluff 2013 MSAB Arts Learning grant for instrument residency with Blue Man Group at MN Children’s Museum 2011 Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board Legacy Amendment funds •     Resident sound-artist for UBEATS biomusic program: National Science Foundation-funded music and nature curriculum development, UNC-Greensboro, 2009, 2010, with Dr. Patricia Gray.  Created forest performance events with 60 adults and children: Walk on the Wild Side. Presentations at National Geographic Society, DC; Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago; Louisville Science Center, KY. •     Selected public artist for Public Art Saint Paul’s Artist-Scientist Hunting/Gathering Walks to develop collaborative installations for the promotion of sustainability around the river. •    Nominated for USArtist Fellowship, 2009 •    Nominated (30 out of 500) for Maker’s Quest 2.0 (new media commissions), Association for Independent Radio Producers, 2009 •   Science Museum of Minnesota commission for Wild Music exhibit 6-channel soundtrack, opened March 2007, touring museums and natural history centers through 2012 •   Minnesota Public Radio Classical Music Initiative: “Music and Nature: A Natural History of Listening” radio show and Web site (musicandnature.org) •   2003 Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship in Music Composition •   1998 FORECAST Public Artworks R&D Stipend to develop prototype Sonic Playground •   1995 Jerome Travel Study Grant to research sound-sculpture in Australia and Western Samoa for 7 weeks  
The Sun Palace: A Tribute to Cragmor Tuberculosis Sanatorium, multi-media hyperopera premiered at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. Film version: thesunpalace.org Lilacs and Lightning, for piano and smartphone. Composition for Twin Cities Pianos on Parade installations. 2011 Car Horn Fanfare for eight ArtCars to open the Northern Spark Festival, St. Paul. Duluth Harbor Serenade, community soundscape event for DS Pride Festival. Writing Out Loud, interactive sound sculpture commissioned by Iowa Book Marks UNESCO City of Literature. Sewer Pipe Organ, music for storm drains commissioned by Public Art St. Paul Talking Benches, playable park benches for Lake Phalen Poetry Park 2008-2010 Commissioned K-12 Public Artist by the Ordway Center for the Arts for the Flint Hills International Festival to construct sound art installations in residence with Twin Cities schools. The Magic Mirror of Life (2010); The Singing Garden and Talking Plant (2009); Rumble Strip and Sonic Playground (2008) 2006 •  Wild Music, Bio-Music exhibition soundtrack commissioned by the Science Museum of Minnesota; served as consultant on development team for entire exhibition. 2004 •   Eternity wind-powered sound installation (2-channel tape version, 2008), Sound Symposium, Newfoundland •    Harbor Symphony #1 for 6 ships’ horns, St. John’s Harbor, Newfoundland 2003 •    Cannon River Eddies, sound/visual installation for the Cannon River Watershed Partnership Festival, Northfield, Minnesota 2002 •    Hentracks on Eternity, long string installation, Burning Man, Black Rock Desert, Nevada 2000 •    Marimba Benches for Phalen Poetry Park: acoustic park bench marimbas for the East Side Arts Council, Saint Paul  
•     Ghostly Psalms (innova 246), 2012 •     Requiem for a Requiem (innova 244), 2011 •     Stuck (innova 799), 2011 •     Henry and Mimi at the Y (innova 120), 2006 •    Habanera: A Sound Walk in Old Havana, Cuba (innova 204), 2004 •     P.P.S. for Organ and Tape (innova 524)  •   Author, editor, producer of internationally-acclaimed series: Enclosures: Harry Partch (innova Recordings, 1995-2007), The Henry Brant Collection, The NYFA Collection, and author of articles in international music and art journals (e.g. Arcana IV, Perspectives of New Music, The Ky XXI, Artpaper, Dirty Linen, Destination Vietnam, Rough Guide to Vietnam, Rough Guide to World Music, Grantmakers in the Arts, Gramophone Explorer Magazine, Songlines, LA Times).