5 Questions for Composer Hunter Ochs

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Hunter Ochs is a composer, audiovisual artist and interactive media designer.

Projects include collaborations with Arthur Jarvinen, Eve Beglarian, Aaron Jay Kernis. He has worked extensively with Morton Subotnick on a series of educational programs for children.

Exhibits/Performances: REDCAT, LA; MOCA, LA; New Museum, NYC; Ought-One Festival, VT; ZKM, Germany.
Hunter teaches at Chapman University, Orange. He has taught at California Institute of the Arts, Pasadena Art Center College of Design, and lectured extensively at various international conferences.

Hunter holds a bachelor’s degree from the combined audio and vision program of University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf and Robert Schumann School of Music and Media (Germany). He attended California Institute of the Arts for postgraduate studies.

Hunter is based in Los Angeles.

Hunter Ochs will join colleagues from across the globe at the 2016 Florida International Toy Piano Festival in January 2016 presented by The New Music Conflagration, Inc.

How did you first become interested in the toy piano as a concert instrument?
My real introduction to the Toy Piano in contemporary music came when Eve Beglarian put me in touch with Aaron Kernis, who was working on a Toy Piano concerto for pianist Margaret Leng Tan. I ended up working for Aaron on the sample sounds for his piece, as recording engineer and technical consultant.

What influenced you to come to the festival?
Serendipity: Mark Robson had performed my piece “It’s a Toy” only a few weeks before the call for entries to the festival went out. I jumped at the chance for a second performance.

What do you see as the future of toy piano?
I’m definitely burned out on the idea of using the toy piano as an exotic ingredient to the established music scene. The visual joke of the man in tails at the tiny piano with a big orchestra has been told.

I wonder if the toy piano can have a place in children’s play rooms, among the electronics? Can it encourage kids to explore composition instead of performing other people’s music? A “real” piano seems to instantly focus parents on getting their kid to play music that other people have written, people who typically are dead. The toy piano on the other hand seems to encourage playing, improvising, tinkering. So I think I really like the idea of the toy piano in education, also because the instrument brings with it the rich history of hundreds of years, but in a playful way.

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