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Bio

My 21st Century: Reconcile minimalism and maximalism. This entails a reconciliation of sounds that maximalists exclude with sounds that minimalists exclude, as well as sounds that both exclude. Next, divorce a technique from the sound world of the technique's first use. These are, broadly, the principles that keep my music from falling into any currently entrenched faction. (I can't belong in either camp because I embrace what each rejects.) I tend to try to meet the multiform world of musical objects--folksongs, pop songs. I seem to be looking for a way to meet the music around us; I tend to avoid sealing myself off. ---William Kentner Anderson

William Anderson, composer, guitarist, ensemble director, and champion of new American music, soaked up contemporary American music for 30 years, working directly with composers from all over the map. In the last 15 years Anderson began composing works that draw on that experience, with a particular concern for finding a coherent way to make maximalism and minimalism work together; how to make embarrassingly simple and charming music work with the most complex musical modalities? No pastiche, avoid collage.

Djuna Barnes Settings

William Anderson began playing chamber music at the Tanglewood Festival at age 19. He now plays solo recitals at guitar festivals and new music festivals in the US and abroad.

Anderson was a guest on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show; and on NPR's All Things Considered, when excerpts from his Overture to Sounding Beckett were broadcast nation-wide.

– Anderson has performed with many of New York City's finest ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Opera Chamber Players, Sequitur, the Group for Contemporary Music, the Da Capo Chamber Players.

– He founded the Cygnus Ensemble in 1985. Cygnus has built a substantial repertoire of chamber music with plucked strings. He became Artistic Director of the Roger Shapiro Fund for New Music in 2011.

– As a composer and arranger Anderson was the first to use a multiply-partitioned array as an accompaniment to a 3-chord pop song (My Morphine--Welch/Anderson), This and other experiments in adapting modernist techniques led Paul Griffiths, in the NY Times, to say:

“The mindful voice of Ives, of Stravinsky and of Mr. Wuorinen’s music would not seem to be implied much by such a song as “Night and Day,” but Mr. Anderson’s extraordinary arrangements of this and other numbers by Jerome Kern and Richard Rogers set them squarely and astonishingly in the same tradition...”

Anderson performed at Tanglewood throughout the 80's. In 1982 he began studying with America's premiere guitar pioneer David Starobin, who introduced him to music communities in New York City. Anderson has performed with the Metropolitan Opera Chamber Players under James Levine, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He regularly appeared in Washinton D.C.with the Theater Chamber Players at the Kennedy Center, under Directors Dina Koston and Leon Fleisher.

Anderson founded Cygnus in 1986. Cygnus commissioned works by rising generations of composers, as well as landmark works such as Milton Babbitt's Swan Song No. 1, Mario Davidovsky's Ladino Songs and Charles Wuorinen's Cygnus.

Mr. Anderson appears on numerous recordings, and has given recitals and radio broadcasts in Europe, Mexico, Japan and the U.S. With Cygnus, he has performed in Denmark, Holland, Poland, Russia, Mexico and California. Cygnus also offers a series of three concerts each season at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City, presenting important new works by America’s best composers. In the New Music Connoisseur, Leo Kraft wrote a review of a Cygnus performance in New York, saying, “If Mr. Anderson’s aim was to show how the guitar can play a significant role in chamber music, he certainly succeeded.” Anderson teaches guitar at Sarah Lawrence College and Queens College.