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High Zero Festival 2014

"Some of the most intense new music being made anywhere" - The Wire Magazine, London

The Latest Update

HZ 2014 is History!

Posted on September 30, 2014 by High Zero Foundation

With a little distance from the festival is it safe to report that High Zero 2014 was a terrific success! Some of the most consistantly mind blowing sets of music that I have heard in some time. Thank you to all of the performers from coming from around the world to join us in Baltimore, to all of the volunteers who helped with tasks big and small, to all of my fellow organizers for being a pleasure to work with, and to New Music USA for supporting us! High Zero 2015 is already in the works!

We’ll have high quality multitracked recordings and videos up soon, but I will leave you with this video put together by UK sampling artist Vicki Bennet aka People Like Us, from Friday night of the festival.

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Festival Midway Report

Posted on September 20, 2014 by High Zero Foundation

3 concerts down and 2 to go! It has been an amazingly diverse and powerful few days of music and performance. While the true power of these performances can only be experienced live, we are extremely lucky to have a dedicated team of students from the Maryland Institute, College of Art acting as official videographers for the festival, and well as professional recoridng engineers expertly recording every last sound. We’ll have a handful of these videos published within weels of the festival, and have grand plans to publish a comprehensive archive one day. Until then, I leave you with this photo from last nights stellar concert, this one of a set featuring (from left to right) Charles Dube, Jack Wright, Paul Neidhardt, Dafne Vincente-Sandoval, and MC Schmidt.

High Zero Begins Tonight!

Posted on September 18, 2014 by High Zero Foundation

We’ve been hard at work getting ready for the 2014 festival and everything gets rolling tonight!

Here is the beautiful poster for this years festival, featuring Baltimore electronic musician Charles Dube. We have been lucky enough to have the poster and photographs from past festivals featured on the new LED Art Billboard in the Station North neighborhood of Baltimore. 

In addition to the 5 concert over the next 4 days, there’s still time to catch some of the workshops with performers from the festival, and participate in guerilla street performances all over town. All info on those happenings and more at www.highzero.org

Countdown: 6 Weeks to High Zero 2014!

Posted on August 8, 2014 by High Zero Foundation

Things are starting to shift into high gear here at the High Zero Foundation in preparation for the 16th annual High Zero Festival. We’re incredibly excited to have the generous support of New Music USA for our sweet 16! We’ve got a fresh website for the 2014 festival with a full list of performers, show times, auxiliary events and context at www.highzero.org.

In the next week we’ll be posting the sets we have constructed for this years festival. One unique aspect of High Zero is that we invite individual improvisors, many from different sub-cultures under the umbrella of “experimental music,” and arrange them in groups to try and elicit something truly new and unexpected. Once we have confirmed the performers, the festival organizers each compile lists of their dream sets. We ask ourselves, of the musicians we have invited, who would we love to see play together? What kind of combinations do we think will produce beautiful music, or will have the best chance for producing something totally unexpected? After several hours of debating the artistic merits of each persons proposed sets, and some logistical juggling and politicking, we arrive at the final 15 that will span Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights of the festival, including solos to start each nights concert.

The last two years we have reserved Sunday night of the festival for 4 sets chosen by chance, picking the musicians’ names from a hat prior to the set they will play. This has produced some incredibly interesting combinations, ones we could have never have thought of, and some truly transcendent music. Sometimes the success of the chance determined sets make me wonder why we spend so much time laboring over the pre-determined ones! But I think that success is dependent, at least in part, on the musicians having spent 4 days together in Baltimore already, being more familiar and at ease with their fellow performers. Either way, those sets are often some of my favorite.


That’s all for now, but I’ll leave you with an amazing video of the inimitable Jack Wright, one of this years performers. Jack has been a literal trailblazer in the American free improvisation scene for over 30 years, touring constantly and committed to playing with new people and exploring new sounds with the saxophone. He had a hand in inspiring our whole organization, and we’re beyond excited to have him at the festival this year.




Now in it’s 16th year, High Zero is the premier festival for improvised and experimental music and culture on the east coast. The fesitval is centered around 4 days of concerts fully devoted to new collaborations between the most inspired improvisors from around the world. In recent years the festival has expanded to include workshops, sound installations, experimental film screenings, and avant garde dance performances.

Unlike many related festivals, High Zero is not narrow in terms of sensibility or subculture, but rather widely inclusive of all the different types of experimental music-making in the moment. The fact that half of the festival’s core participants are from Baltimore speaks to the depth of Baltimore’s experimental music subculture, which in recent years has grown to be one of the richest cities in the country for experimental art.

The festival has a unique structure. The core of High Zero is focused solely on new collaborations in freely improvised experimental music. Internationally famous musicians play side by side with younger “unknowns,” united by their commitment to the musical imagination. Each year, Baltimore becomes a fertile meeting-ground for a large group of inspired players, drawn from a fascinating international subculture.

The festival exposes large audiences to this radical music in its pure form. Large-scale public concerts, recording sessions, workshops, and guerrilla street performances are all part of the heady mix. The players are carefully selected by the festival’s organizers for their intense, unique music, whether it is based around dramatic intensity, humor, specially designed instruments, original approach, raw sound, or nearly superhuman instrumental technique. The resulting collaborations challenge the limits of music and delight by their audacity, expressiveness, immediacy, and innovation. It isn’t about stars or established projects; it is about the most uncompromising and stimulating new improvised music we can bring together.

To say the High Zero Festival is an unusual event is an understatement. Not only does the festival intend to provide the audience with extremely varied, inspired and ingenious experiences, it is also a major challenge for the improvisors, who are put in contexts where their stock personal musical languages may not work, pushing them into terra incognita.

The 2014 High Zero Festival will include the following musicians:

Okkyung Lee – Cello (Germany)

Andrea Pensado – Electronics/Voice (Massachusetts)

Vicki Bennet aka People Like Us – Live Sampling/Electronics (England)

Charlotte Hug – Viola (Switzerland)

JD Zazie – Turntables (Germany)

Michael Fischer – Saxophone (Austria)

Dafne Vincente-Sandoval – Bassoon (France)

Jack Wright – Saxophone (Pennsylvania)

John Kilduff – Multitasking (California)

Morgan Evans-Weiler – Violin/Electronics (Massachusetts)

M.C. Schmidt – Keyboard/Electronics/Objects (Maryland)

Harry Walker – Bass Guitar (Maryland)

Andy Hayleck – Electronics/Guitar (Maryland)

Bob Wagner – Percussion (Maryland)

Mick Ricereto – Clarinet (Maryland)

Wendell Patrick – Turntables (Maryland)

Charles Dube – Electronics (Maryland)

Jenny Gräf – Electronics/Guitar (Maryland)

Jeff Carey – Electronics (Maryland)

John Berndt – Saxophone/Invented Instruments (Maryland)

Meg Rorison – Live Projections (Maryland)

Owen Gardner – Cello/Guitar (Maryland)

Paul Neidhardt – Percussion (Maryland)

Stewart Mostofsky – Electronics (Maryland)

For more information and documentation of past festivals visit www.highzero.org.



Project Media

Tom Boram, Rose Burt, and Weasel Walter at High Zero 2013
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Electronic musician Tom Boram, baritone saxophonist Rose Burt, and percussionist Weasel Walter perform in a trio at the 2013 High Zero Festival.

Christine Sehnaoui Abdelnour Solo at High Zero 2006
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French alto saxophonist Christine Sehnaoui Abdelnour performs a solo on Sunday night of the 2006 High Zero Festival.

Amy Cimini, Rose Burt, and Katt Hernandez at High Zero 2011
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Violist Amy Cimini, alto saxophonist Rose Burt, and violinist Katt Hernandez perform in a trio at High Zero 2011.

Start and End Dates



Baltimore, Maryland

4 updates
Last update on September 30, 2014

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Baltimore, Maryland
The High Zero Foundation establishes Baltimore as an epicenter of experimental music and culture, emphasizing improvisatory collaboration. The Foundation produces the international High Zero Festival of Improvised and Experimental Music, the regionally oriented Worlds in Collusion festival, the weekly Red Room performance series, and the annual Diffusion Festival. Through recording and publication efforts, the High…

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Malden, Massachusetts
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