Michael Century

Professor, Program Coordinator - Music, Arts

Michael Century, pianist and composer, is Professor of New Media and Music in the Arts Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which he joined in 2002.  Musically at home in classical, contemporary, and improvisational settings, Century has enjoyed a varied career as university teacher, new media researcher, inter-arts producer, and arts policy maker. He studied piano with Reginald Godden in Toronto, and theory/composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. Most recently, his musical passion is playing the accordion.

“Though my creative work is both musical and scholarly, I like to think of the two as intertwined through a common question: ‘whither creativity in age of smart machines?’” Century said. “I perform a wide repertoire of solo and chamber music from the classical and contemporary traditions, always keeping in mind the need to constantly re-establish the contemporary relevance of these traditions in an age of digital media.” 

His compositional projects deal with the musical – as opposed to the merely technical – challenges of musical-computer interaction, and he states that “the deeply embodied traditions of performance and craft must be maintained even as we confront the sophisticated and ever growing capacities of programmable machines.

His recently completed musical creations include a series of new works for keyboards and accordion with and electronics: Small Infinities, Within and Without, and the Triple Duo for Accordion, Disklavier Piano.  With Arts Department colleague Shawn Lawson, he has designed and published a unique arrangement of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, available on iOS devices.   Century directed The Rensselaer Contemporary Music Ensemble from 2008 to 2013, which performed a wide repertoire of works from the 20th and 21st centuries, and is taking a lead role in the rise of a new undergraduate program in music at Rensselaer.

His latest scholarly articles are "Telidon, Another Panacea That Failed." Acoustic Space, "The Future of Interdisciplinary Music Studies." College Music Society-NAMM Generation Next Program and “Virtuosity as Creative Freedom” in The Emergence of Video Processing Tools, and “Encoding Motion in the Early Computer: Knowledge Transfers Between Studio and Lab”, in Place Studies in Art, Media, Science and Technology: Historical Investigations on the Sites and the Migration of Knowledge.  In 2012, he presented “Extraordinary Freedom Machines:  Vignettes in the History of a Multimedia Century,” a three-part lecture series on 20th century art and technology at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Art Center (EMPAC) in Troy, NY.  

EXTENDED BIOGRAPHY:  http://www.nextcentury.ca/bio.html

For videos of music performance, see https://vimeo.com/user1962311


A.R.C.T., Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto

M.A. University of California Berkeley

B.A. University of Toronto