Chris Fisher-Lochhead

Lecturer, Arts

Chris Fisher-Lochhead (he–him) is a composer, improviser, and educator. His work attempts to cultivate adventurous and inclusive environments for musical collaboration through critical engagement with instrumental and compositional technique, notational systems, and ensemble dynamics. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan and Northwestern University; he joined the Rensselaer faculty in 2018. As a composer, he has collaborated with performers around the world. In 2012, his string quartet Dig Absolutely was selected by the Arditti Quartet for performance at the Darmstadt Summer Courses and was awarded the Mivos-Kanter Prize. Between 2013 and 2015, he collaborated closely with Dropshift Dance to develop two full-length electroacoustic dance scores culminating in performances at the Chicago Cultural Center and Links Hall. His string quartet Hack—based on the transcribed vocal deliveries of standup comics—was featured on the Spektral Quartet's record Serious Business, which was nominated for a Grammy Award and hailed by the New Yorker's Alex Ross as a "knockout." A portrait disc, which will include performances by the JACK Quartet, Ensemble Dal Niente, Quince Vocal Ensemble, and Ben Roidl-Ward, is forthcoming on New Focus Records. Other noted collaborators include Third Coast Percussion, Ensemble Recherche, ekmeles, loadbang, Ogni Suono, Fonema Consort, Noise-Bridge, USC Percussion Ensemble, DePaul 20+ Ensemble, Northwestern Contemporary Music Ensemble, Graeme Jennings, Marcus Weiss, Timothy McAllister, and members of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). He is a founding member of Grant Wallace Band (GWB), a trio of composer/improvisers that integrates diverse styles and creative practices to craft a uniquely eclectic body of work. Since its founding in 2011, GWB has released seven albums and been featured by presenters across the country, including the Resonant Bodies Festival, New Amsterdam Records, Fast Forward Austin, Chatter (Albuquerque), Loops and Variations (Chicago), Opera Cabal, (Un)familiar Music Series, Oscillations (Chicago), Legion Arts (Cedar Rapids), and Fishkill Records. In 2016, GWB premiered the dramatic song cycle The Magnificent Pretty Boy—commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera’s community programs and based on the life of outsider artist Henry Ray Clark—at the Menil Collection in Houston. As an educator, he is committed to reconceiving university music education for the 21st century by broadening the traditional theoretical focus to include vernacular, popular, and experimental practices; and robustly engaging with the perspectives of critical pedagogy, anti-colonialism, and structural justice. His research projects center around speech melody transcription, just intonation, sample-based beatmaking, the political economy of musical production, and critical approaches to musical notation and instrumental technique. Current projects include a composition for tenor saxophone, percussion, and fixed media commissioned by saxophonist Timothy McAllister (and based on an in-depth musical analysis of spoken fragments of Fred Hampton), an album-length wind quintet for the Chicago Wind Project, and a new trio album with Grant Wallace Band.

Education

D.M.A., Music Composition and Technology, Northwestern University, Bienen School of Music

B.M., Music Composition, University of Michigan, School of Music, Theatre & Dance

Research Focus
  • Music Composition
  • Music Theory
  • Music Improvisation