Charles Amirkhanian

Charles Amirkhanian is an Armenian-American composer, sound artist, poet, radio producer, and founder of the Other Minds music festival. As a composer, he is renowned for his text-sound compositions that employ speech sounds in rhythmic patterns resembling percussion music, with influences from Ernst Toch, Gertrude Stein, Steve Reich, and Clark Coolidge. He also composes electroacoustic essays incorporating acoustic ambient sounds alongside more traditional instrumental music sources to create disjunct, trance-like dreamscapes and hörspiels. Amirkhanian served as Music Director of KPFA Radio in Berkeley (1969-1992) and Executive Director of the Djerassi Resident Artists Program (1993-1997). From 1977-1980 he was a full-time instructor in the Interdisciplinary Creative Arts Department at San Francisco State University. In San Francisco, Amirkhanian hosted and programmed the Exploratorium’s highly regarded Speaking of Music series (1983-1991), bringing live audiences together for intimate conversations in person with pathbreaking composers. And from 1988-1991 he co-directed, with John Lifton, the Composer-to-Composer Festival in Telluride, Colorado, which served as a model for the Other Minds Festival. As a radio producer, Amirkhanian pioneered the broadcasting of minimalist music, sound poetry, radio happenings, and, with Richard Friedman, the World Ear Project, bringing continuous recordings of ambient sounds to the airwaves, beginning in 1970. Many of his hundreds of interviews with composers, performers, poets, and intermedia artists are available for listening on, the second website of Other Minds, designed to preserve the voices and work of cutting edge artists. - Excerpted from

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