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Trimpin and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra

Trimpin is the Music Alive composer-in-residence with the Seattle Symphony from 2013-2016.

The Latest Update

“Above, Beyond, & In Between” or: Nancarrow Pianos and Henry Brant’s Chimes

Posted on May 1, 2015 by Seattle Symphony Orchestra

By now, hundreds of thousands of people across the world from visual, sonic, dance, and creative communities have encountered the work of sound-sculptor and composer Trimpin. And yet, many folks within his home city of Seattle may not realize that he’s actively creating in this city on the Sound on a regular basis.

For those that do, or for those who are discovering it right now, we are so excited about the premiere of his Music Alive commissioned work Above, Beyond, and In Between tonight at 10PM in the Grand Lobby of Benaroya Hall as part of the Seattle Symphony’s final [untitled] concert of the season.

This marks the center-point of his three-year residency with the Seattle Symphony. So far, his time in Seattle has extended to Soundbridge and the SSO’s Young Composer’s Workshop, community compositions, this unparalleled premiere on May 1 through [untitled], and will continue in myriad ways in the year to come, not the least of which includes his upcoming collaboration with Path with Art.

If you’d like to learn a little more about how Trimpin’s sound sculpture and invention works with a Kinect & motion-activated sound, and the careful placement of the nine symphony musicians and soprano who are helping this work come to life, check out some of the incredible press this residency has been getting in Geekwire, The Seattle Times, The Seattle Weekly, KUOW, and The Seattle Met, for starters (seriously, that’s not even all of it).

And if you’re feeling creative after tonight’s premiere to spearhead some of your own instrument building, we recommend that you take a gander at #MIXTRUMENT. Get building, and in the spirit of the Seattle Symphony – Listen Boldly!

More Updates ▼

The Seattle Times | Trimpin: ‘The Genius Everybody In Seattle Ought to Know’

Posted on April 30, 2015 by Seattle Symphony Orchestra

“He’s a big kid, and I think it’s infectious. … When people ask me to describe him, I just say he’s maybe the genius that everybody in Seattle ought to know. We don’t quite realize what kind of figure we have here.” – Ludovic Morlot for The Seattle Times

These are the words that Music Director of the Seattle Symphony Ludovic Morlot has to share with The Seattle Times about Music Alive residency composer, sound-sculptor, inventor, and infectiously creative Seattle-native Trimpin.

If you haven’t yet had a chance to read this fantastic coverage by Michael Upchurch in The Seattle Times about this one-of-a-kind musician, take a few moments out of your day to do it. He provides some great insight about the premiere on May 1, how exactly the mechanisms of Trimpin’s installation work, and how the interaction between motion and sound informs the ultimate outcome of the piece.

Read the Full Article Here


Posted on April 29, 2015 by Seattle Symphony Orchestra

Right now, sound-sculptor, composer, MacArthur genius, and inventor Trimpin is gearing up for the premiere of his newest work, Above, Below, and In Between, in the Grand Lobby of Benaroya Hall for the Seattle Symphony’s final [untitled] concert of the season. This will not be an event to miss.

But before we delve too far into the May 1 premiere of this work, let’s talk for a second about how he’s helped inspire the infinitely creative city of Seattle to jump in and make some of their own sounds with their own invented instruments and found objects through #MIXTRUMENT! From the Seattle Symphony,

Drawing on Trimpin’s philosophy of creativity and invention, #Mixtrument challenges people to make their own instruments with found objects, record a short video using the instrument, and submit it to be considered for a crowdsourced community composition. The #Mixtrument composition is created by layering individual compositions in different combinations.

While the official call for sounds has already passed, there are still plenty of folks making sounds every day. If you have your own sounds you’d like to share, put them out there and share them with the Seattle Symphony on Facebook or Twitter!

Meet Trimpin and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra

Posted on November 1, 2014 by Seattle Symphony Orchestra

Residency Snapshot:

Trimpin is currently busy exploring found objects to create an array of sculptural interactive instruments that will be featured at the concert hall and accessible to the general public for interaction and exploration during the duration of his 10-week residency. The commissioned piece including the new sound structure will be premiered by the orchestra on May 1, 2015 during a concert on the Symphony’s late-night contemporary music series, [untitled]. The 2014–2015 season will mark the second year in a three-year Trimpin residency at the Seattle Symphony. In addition to the premiere, Trimpin will collaborate with Seattle Symphony teaching artists to develop a “Science of Sound” kit and lesson plan, which will equip elementary and middle-school students to create their own “Trimpin-style” musical instrument/sculpture made from common materials and help them compose music to perform with it. Trimpin will be involved in mentoring pre-college-age composers in the Seattle Symphony’s annual “Merriman Family Young Composers Workshop” and a number of other activities for the community. The social media campaign for the Trimpin residency is designed to engage audience and community members in understanding his process through videos, posts on social media sites, and an instrument making competition. During the year, Trimpin and the Seattle Symphony’s education and community engagement staff will work with members of a local nonprofit service organization over a six-week-period to create a community composition. The piece will be performed by the members of the nonprofit organization along with Seattle Symphony musicians.

A lot of the building is already underway, so stay tuned as we start to post photos and updates of what you can expect to experience in May and beyond! In the meantime…

Get to know Trimpin:

Trimpin, a sound sculptor, composer, inventor, is one of the most stimulating one-man forces in music today. A specialist in interfacing computers with traditional acoustic instruments, he has developed a myriad of methods for playing, trombones, cymbals, pianos, and so forth with Macintosh computers. He has collaborated frequently with Conlon Nancarrow, realizing the composer’s piano roll compositions through various media. At the 1989 Composer-to-Composer conference in Telluride, Colorado, Trimpin created a Macintosh-controlled device that allowed one of Nancarrow’s short studies for player piano to be performed by mallets striking 100 Dutch wooden shoes arranged in a horseshoe from the edge of the balcony at the Sheridan Opera House. He also prepared a performance of Nancarrow’s studies at the Brooklyn Academy of Music for New Music America in 1989.

Trimpin was born in southwestern Germany, near the Black Forest. His early musical training began at the age of eight, learning woodwinds and brass instruments. In later years he developed an allergic reaction to metal which prevented him from pursuing a career in music, so he turned to electro-mechanical engineering. Afterwards, he spent several years living and studying in Berlin where he received his Master’s Degree from the University of Berlin.

Eventually he became interested in acoustical sets while working in theater productions with Samuel Beckett and Rick Cluchey, director of the San Quentin Drama Workshop. From 1985-87 he co-chaired the Electronic Music Department of the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam.

Trimpin now resides in Seattle where numerous instruments that defy description adorn his amazing studio. In describing his work, Trimpin sums it up as “extending the traditional boundaries of instruments and the sounds they’re capable of producing by mechanically operating them. Although they’re computer-driven, they’re still real instruments making real sounds, but with another dimension added, that of spatial distribution. What I’m trying to do is go beyond human physical limitations to play instruments in such a way that no matter how complex the composition of the timing, it can be pushed over the limits.”

Get to know the SSO:


Composer and breathtaking sound-installation artist Gerhard Trimpin, commonly known as Trimpin, is the Music Alive composer-in-residence with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra for a new musical commission and site-specific installation in the Benaroya Hall Grand Lobby. As a Seattle resident and avid contributor to the varied and thriving creative landscape of the city, Trimpin sparks curiosity and awe through his seemingly impossible structures and the sounds they generate:

Start and End Dates



Seatte, Washington

4 updates
Last update on May 1, 2015

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Seattle, Washington
The Seattle Symphony is one of America’s leading symphony orchestras and is internationally acclaimed for its innovative programming and extensive recording history. Under the leadership of Music Director Ludovic Morlot since September 2011, the Symphony is heard from September through July by more than 500,000 people through live performances and radio broadcasts. It performs in…

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Seattle, Washington


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