- BEN NEILL is a composer, performer, producer, and inventor of the mutantrumpet, a hybrid electro-acoustic instrument. Through his use of interactive computer technologies, Neill creates a unique musical and visual experience, melding the worlds of electronica, jazz, and visual media. He is an Assistant Professor of Music at Ramapo College of New Jersey.
Neill began developing the mutantrumpet in the early 1980s. Initially an acoustic instrument (a combination of 3 trumpets and a trombone combined into one), Neill made the instrument interactive with electronics in the mid 1980s when collaborating with the synthesizer inventor Robert Moog. In 1992, while in residency at Steim¹s research and development lab for new instruments in Amsterdam, Neill made the mutantrumpet fully computer interactive. In 2008 Neill created a new version of his instrument during another residency at Steim.
Neill’s latest CD Night Science was released in September 2009 on Thirsty Ear Recordings. The CD combines dubstep beats and basslines with the otherworldly sonic explorations of his newly redesigned electro/acoustic instrument. His long time video collaborator Bill Jones provides interactive video, a black and white urban dreamscape inspired by sci-fi noir films such as Godard’s Alphaville. The video and music are seamlessly integrated in real time by the mutantrumpet.
Neill has recorded seven CDs of his music on the Universal/Verve, Astralwerks, Six Degrees, New Tone and Ear-Rational labels. He has performed his music extensively in a wide variety of international settings including the Cite de la Musique France, Berlin Love Parade Germany, Spoleto Festival Italy, Umbria Jazz Italy, NIME Conference 2005 Vancouver, 2006 Paris, 2009 Pittsburgh, Bang On A Can Festival New York, ICA London, Istanbul Jazz Festival Turkey, Edinburgh Festival UK, Ingenuity Festival Clevleland, and the Lincoln Center Scanners Video Festival to name a few.
Current projects also include Persephone, a music theater piece with actress Julia Stiles, Tony-award winning writer Warren Leight, vocalist Mimi Goese and multimedia theater company Ridge Theater which will be presented at the BAM Next Wave Festival 2010. In 2005 Neill presented his collaboration with visual artist Bill Jones titled Palladio, an interactive movie based on Jonathan Dee’s 1998 novel of the same name. Palladio was premiered at the New Territories Festival in Glasgow, Scotland, and at the Thalia Theater/Symphony Space in New York City.
Neill is also active as a sound and installation artist. His collaborative works with Bill Jones have been exhibited in museums and galleries including Sandra Gering Gallery New York, Exit Art New York, Wellcome Gallery London and the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Neill’s installation/performance Green Machine was shown at Paula Cooper Gallery in 1994. ITSOFOMO, his major collaborative piece with the late artist David Wojnarowicz, has been exhibited in venues such as The New Museum New York and PPOW Gallery New York, and was featured in the PBS documentary Imagining America.
A native of North Carolina, Neill holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from Manhattan School of Music. He studied composition with minimalist composer La Monte Young, and has worked with numerous other composers and musicians including, David Behrman, John Cage, John Cale, Nicolas Collins, Rhys Chatham, Eric Singer’s LEMUR, Pauline Oliveros, Page Hamilton and DJ Spooky. Neill was the Music Curator of The Kitchen in New York City from 1992-1998, and has curated music for many other venues including the 2008 and 2009 River to River Festivals at World Financial Center.
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