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Daniel Lentz

American composer, visual artist, and educator Daniel Lentz is known for his unconventional and innovative approaches to conceptualizing and performing music. He has been incorporating real-time electronics into his performance pieces since the 1960s, and his concerts with the Daniel Lentz Group during the 1980s and '90s utilized live multi-track recording. His sculpture-like visual scores, known as Illuminated Manuscripts, have been exhibited in art galleries. He's released several recordings since the early '80s, from the post-minimalist choral works of 1984's On the Leopard Altar to the multi-tracked piano compositions of 2015's In the Sea of Ionia. He recorded two albums with Harold Budd during the 1990s, and worked with Ian William Craig on 2020's In a Word. Born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, in 1942, Daniel Lentz studied piano and trumpet as a child. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Saint Vincent College in 1962, and then received fellowships to attend Ohio University, where he graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Music Theory/Composition and Musicology in 1965, and Brandeis University, where he also received a full scholarship. Additionally, Lentz was awarded a composition fellowship at Tanglewood in 1966, and a Fulbright Fellowship in Electronic Music and Musicology, which he completed in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1968. He then accepted a visiting lectureship at the University of California in Santa Barbara, where he taught courses on Music Theory, Music Composition, and Electronic Music. Lentz had been performing live electronic theater pieces since 1965, but he began to concentrate on composing and performing more in 1970. He formed a conceptual music ensemble called the California Time Machine, which performed pieces that incorporated tape delay as well as drinking from wine glasses. Lentz founded the San Andreas Fault in 1973, and the ensemble performed choral and keyboard works incorporating real-time electronics. The group toured throughout North America and Europe, and recorded for several European radio stations between 1974 and 1980. Lentz's first commercial recording, the 10" EP After Images, was issued by Cold Blue in 1981. The composer formed the Daniel Lentz Group after moving to Los Angeles in 1982. Incorporating complex vocal arrangements, MIDI percussion, and keyboards, the group toured and performed in various formations, ranging from a quartet to an 18-piece ensemble. Lentz's On the Leopard Altar LP was released by Icon Records in 1984, and Point Conception, recorded using solo piano and an eight-part cascading echo system, was issued by Cold Blue. Missa Umbrarum, containing choral works utilizing wine glasses, was released by New Albion in 1985. The Crack in the Bell, featuring members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, was issued by Angel Records in 1987, and was the label's first contemporary classical release. Lentz moved to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona in 1991, and his music became slower and darker than the brighter, more energetic pieces he wrote while living in Los Angeles. He collaborated with Ruben Garcia and longtime friend Harold Budd on Music for 3 Pianos, issued by All Saints in 1992, and b.e.comings was released by Japanese label Rhizome Sketch the same year. Lentz recorded Walk Into My Voice, interpreting text from several American beat poets, with Budd and Lentz Group vocalist Jessica Karraker, and the album was issued by Italian label Materiali Sonori in 1996. Apologetica, a choral ensemble work incorporating English translations of Mayan, Hopi, and Navaho texts, appeared on New Albion in 1997. Lentz issued several collections of his work on his own Aoede Records beginning in 2000, including wolfMASS, based on traditional Latin masses, and Huit ou neuf pièces dorées à point, inspired by several of Lentz's favorite restaurants in Paris. Continuing to work with Cold Blue, Lentz released the 15-minute composition Los Tigres de Marte in 2004. He received composition grants from the Opus Archives and Research Center at the Pacifica Institute in 2010, and the Rockefeller Foundation, with a residency at the Bellagio Center in Italy, in 2012. In the Sea of Ionia, containing solo and overdubbed piano pieces played by Aron Kallay, was issued in 2015, and River of 1,000 Streams, a "cascading echo" piece performed by pianist Vicki Ray, appeared in 2017. New World Records released Lentz's Ending(s), performed by the Twilight String Orchestra, in 2019. Lentz then collaborated with Canadian vocalist and tape music composer Ian William Craig on the full-length In a Word, issued as the 16th volume of RVNG Intl.'s collaborative FRKWYS series in 2020.
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