Short Bios of Christopher Yavelow

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Christopher Yavelow Biography (1999)

Christopher Yavelow received graduate degrees in music composition and theory from both Boston University and Harvard University. During five years of postgraduate study in Europe he earned additional diplomas and certificates at Budapest's Franz Liszt Academy, the Conservatoire Darius Milhaud, the Darmstadt Internationale Ferienkurse, and the Conservatoire Américain de Fontainebleau. He has studied with Nadia Boulanger, David DelTredici, Zsolt Durko, Max Deutsch, Ernö Lendvai, György Ligeti, Mauricio Kagel, and Gardner Read.

Yavelow has held teaching positions at the University of Texas, Harvard University, and Schiller College (where he was Chairman of the Department of Music). From 1988 to 1993 he was Professor of Graduate Composition at Claremont Graduate School. In 1992 and 1993 he also taught at the American Film Institute's AFI-Apple Center for Film and Videomakers and at the Kodak Center for Creative Imaging. Additionally, he has held composer-in-residence posts at the MacDowell Colony, the Camargo Foundation, the Cummington Community of the Arts, the Windhover Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, and Paris' Cité des Arts.

Throughout the past two decades, twenty-three of Yavelow's works have received awards and prizes in national and international competitions, including the Grand Prix à l'Unanimité in the Rencontres Internationales de Chant Choral. During the same period he has been honored with seventeen grants and fellowships such as the IREX Fellowship sponsored by the Social Science Research Council and the American Council of Learned Societies.

Most of his work since the 1970s has been devoted to multimedia. His compositions have been commissioned by (for example) the Empire Brass Quintet, the Williams Trio, the Kodaly Musical Training Institute, the Modern Times Theater, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, and Collage-the Contemporary Ensemble of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. His interest in the theatrical aspects of music led to a 1981 National Endowment for the Arts grant to compose his three-act grand opera: "The Passion of Vincent van Gogh.."

In 1987 the Boston Lyric Opera commissioned a Macintosh-controlled opera about nuclear war - "Countdown" - under the auspices of Opera America's Opera in the Eighties and Beyond program. "Countdown" went on to win first prize in the 1988 Virginia Opera Society Competition. In 1994, Countdown received accolades for being the first on-line opera available globally, in cyberspace. In 1990 he and Brentano Haleen originated VADA: Voice Activated Digital Art, a new form of collaborative interactive multimedia performance art.

His articles on computer-assisted composition, MIDI, digital audio, and multimedia appear in Macworld, Electronic Musician, Computer Music Journal, Verbum, NewMedia, The Macromedia Developers Journal, The Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, Byte, MacWeek, Music Technology, MacInTouch, and Keyboards, Computers, and Software.

His book, The Macworld Music and Sound Bible (IDG, 1993) is considered the definitive reference on the topic and received the "Best Advanced How-To Book" award from the Computer Press Association in 1993. Yavelow also co-authored Random House's Mastering the World of QuickTime book and Multimedia PowerTools book/CD-ROM set, both published in 1993, and he wrote chapters in Macintosh Virtual Playhouse (Hayden, 1994), Making Music With Your Computer (Mix, 1993), and The Music Machine (MIT, 1988).

Yavelow’s early computer-based multimedia activities include creating the Finale Guided Tour for Coda Music Technologies and Vox Vivarium for Alan Kay's Apple Vivarium Project. He also created music and multimedia projects for the Verbum Interactive CD-ROM and the Random House Multimedia Power Tools CD-ROM. In 1994 he directed the VPRO Digitale Gids CD-ROM project in the Netherlands, and in 1996 he developed LEGO’s first CD-ROM (accompanying Technic Submarine model 8299) which won the Best Scandinavian CD-ROM of 1997 and The Danish Design Prize in 1998. This was the first CD-ROM released worldwide by the popular toy manufacturer.

In 1997 he unveiled his revolutionary YAV Music Engine — an expert system engine that creates credible music in a variety of styles. Using this revolutionary technology, he created The Music is the Message, an interactive music exhibit for the newMetropolis Center for Science and Technology in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, which opened in the summer of 1997. The Music is the Message composes soundtracks, allowing museum visitors to use algorithmically generated music to place an interpretation on a film scene. Every day, the software analyzes all the soundtracks composed up to that date (thousands of files) and redefines its internal compositional models based upon what it learns about its users. Yavelow refers to the process as "Adaptive Music"(tm).

A long-standing board member of NEWCOMP (the New England Computer Arts Association), upon moving to Los Angeles he assumed the directorship of MEGA (The Macintosh Entertainment Guild of America), a position he held for several years. Until 1993 he was a member of the boards of the LAMG (The Los Angeles Macintosh Group) and the AFI-Apple Center for Film and Videomakers.

In 1993 Christopher Yavelow moved to the Netherlands where he continues to develop interactive multimedia and software for algorithmic composition. He is currently series editor for the Computer Music and Digital Audio Series published by A-R Editions.

Christopher Yavelow's music is widely performed in North America and Europe and is available from American Composers Edition in New York and Editions A Coeur Joie in France.

Graphics, text, sounds, etc. Copyright © Christopher Yavelow 1998

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