Mark So

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Mark So

Genre: Composer



Mark So grew up in Syracuse and lives in Los Angeles, where he works prolifically as an composer and musician. His works, which number over 500, pursue the unforeseen in reduced scenarios of musical choice and action, while exploring and expanding the space and setting of music in the realm of ordinary perception. Mostly text-based and strongly influenced by the New York School, Fluxus, and the Wandelweiser composers group, his music explores varied open "theaters" of the sensible by engaging faint, passing subtleties of continuity and arrangement (time and harmony) that often demand great attention, through changing experiences of silence. His work is grouped in series which include the blind documents (for field recordings and instruments), readings (involving the reading of text), a group of empires defining indeterminate realms of potential harmony, numerous landscapes and atmospheres, dozens of pieces based on the spelling of names, and more than 250 compositions arising from poems by John Ashbery. His work is played frequently throughout the United States and in Europe, having been featured in MicroFest 2008 at the Armory Center for the Arts (Pasadena), numerous solo programs at the wulf. (Los Angeles),  Everybody Loves Difficult Music at Machine Project (Los Angeles), the week-long retrospective mark so: late early works at UCSB, the 2005 Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, Night Music at Diapason Gallery (Brooklyn), Wandelweiser Festspiel at Kunstraum Düsseldorf, Maulwerker Plays Music at Villa Elisabeth (Berlin), Klangkunstklang (Aarau), ROOTS/ROUTES at ICMC 2008 (Belfast), Several Silences at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art (Columbia, SC), and the Dog Star Orchestra v.1-6 at CalArts (Valencia). Notable performers of his work include Manfred Werder, Michael Pisaro, Jürg Frey, Stefan Thut, Julia Holter, Tashi Wada, the Dog Star Orchestra, object collection, Maulwerker, incidental music, the New Music Collective, and the duos Gagliardi-Barrett, Guthrie & Streb, and MicroScore Project (Johnny Chang & Jessica Catron). So has been involved in many permormances from the experimental tradition, including works by Antoine Beuger, John Cage, Morton Feldman, Jürg Frey, Eva-Maria Houben, Christian Kesten, Joseph Kudirka, Catherine Lamb, Adam Overton, Michael Pisaro, James Tenney, Tashi Wada, Manfred Werder, Christian Wolff, and István Zelenka, ranging from solos to large ensemble pieces, with many first performances and pieces written expressly for him. His essay “nearing/hearing” appeared in The Open Space (Fall 2008), he co-edited the edition Everyone Loves Difficult Music from Machine Project (2008), and his article “Into Silence: The Poetics of Hearing in Experimental Music since Cage” is forthcoming. His book BANGS, documenting Manfred Werder's ongoing performance of So's piece BANGS [to Manfred Werder], appeared in spring 2009. His work has been supported by numerous residencies, and a 2010 Meet the Composer grant. He received his MFA in Music Composition from CalArts.