Joan La Barbara

Contact artist


JOAN LA BARBARA’s career as a composer/performer/soundartist explores the human voice as a multi-faceted instrument expanding traditional boundaries, creating works for multiple voices, chamber ensembles, music theater, orchestra and interactive technology, developing a unique vocabulary of experimental and extended vocal techniques: multiphonics, circular singing, ululation and glottal clicks that have become her "signature sounds", garnering awards in the U.S. and Europe including the 2008 Letter of Distinction from the American Music Center for her significant contributions to new American music; the 2004 Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition, the prestigious DAAD Artist-in-Residency in Berlin and 7 National Endowment for the Arts fellowships: Music Composition, Opera/Music Theatre, Inter-Arts, Recording (2), Solo Recitalist and Visual Arts; ISCM International Jury Award; Akustische International Competition Award; Meet The Composer and ASCAP Awards and numerous commissions for concert, theatre and radioworks. Commissions include tapeworks "in the dreamtime" and "Klangbild Köln" for WestDeutscher Rundfunk; "Dragons on the Wall", a music score commissioned by Mary Flagler Cary Trust and "Calligraphy II/Shadows" for voice and chinese instruments, both for Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company; the choral work "to hear the wind roar" for Gregg Smith Singers, I Cantori and the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe and "Events in the Elsewhere" from "The Misfortune of the Immortals", both funded by Meet the Composer/Lila Wallace; "Awakenings" for chamber ensemble, commissioned by the University of Iowa Center for New Music, "L'albero dalle foglie azzurre" (tree of blue leaves) for solo oboe and tape, commissioned by the Saint Louis Symphony, and "A Trail of Indeterminate Light" for cellist who also sings. "73 Poems", her collaborative work with text artist Kenneth Goldsmith, was included in "The American Century Part II: SoundWorks" at The Whitney Museum of American Art and recently performed as part of Poetry International 2004 at London's Royal Festival Hall. "Messa di Voce", an interactive media work, in collaboration with Jaap Blonk, Golan Levin and Zachary Lieberman, premiered at Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria on September 7, 2003 and was awarded Honorary Mention in the 2004 Prix Ars Electronica. The American Music Center's Live Music for Dance commissions include “Landscape over Zero” (2004-05 for Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company), “Fleeting Thoughts” (2005-06 for Jane Comfort & Company), and “Desert Myths/Isle of Dunes”(premiered at NJPAC April 29, 2006 featuring Ne(x)tworks and Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company). “Atmos” for flute and sonic atmosphere, commissioned by Meet The Composer/NYSFM, premiered March 2008 at Symphony Space, performed by Margaret Lancaster; recording on New World Records ("io" #80665, released 2009). In 2007-08, La Barbara received a NYSCA Music Composition award to compose a new spoken word opera, “An American Rendition”, in collaboration with choreographer/theater artist Jane Comfort, which premiered September 2008 at Duke Theatre, NYC with support from Live Music for Dance.

Latest albums