Robert Ashley is a contemporary composer born March 28, 1930 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, best known for his operas and other theatrical works, often working within and across differing disciplines. His operas are far from traditional as they usually incorporate electronics and are often written and produced for television. He explains that English is a language where the consonants count, not the vowels, unlike many European languages, and so the text in operas written in English should be delivered much faster.
Ashley studied at the University of Michigan and at the Manhattan School of Music. In the 1960's he organised the ONCE Festival in Ann Arbor and is the founder of the ONCE Group, as well as a past member of the Sonic Arts Union, which also included David Behrman, Alvin Lucier, and Gordon Mumma. In 1969 he became director of the San Francisco Tape Music Center. In the 1970's he directed the Mills College Center for Contemporary Music.
The majority of Ashley's recordings have been released by Lovely Music , which was founded by Performing Artservices , the not-for-profit management organization which represents Ashley and other artists.
His operas include:
In Sara Mencken, Christ and Beethoven there were men and women (text from the book of the same name by John Barton Wolgamot)
Atalanta (Acts of God)
Now Eleanor's Idea
Your Money My Life Goodbye
Concrete (to be premiered January 2007 at La MaMa Etc.)
In 1976, his Music with Roots in the Aether was released, a video collection of interviews with seven American contemporary composers (David Behrman, Philip Glass, Alvin Lucier, Gordon Mumma, Pauline Oliveros, Terry Riley and Robert Ashley)
1976 - Music With Roots in the Aether: Opera for Television. Tape 7: Robert Ashley. Produced and directed by Robert Ashley. New York, New York: Lovely Music.