Meet 2017 Toy Piano Festival Participant – Alan Shockley

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Alan Shockley holds the Ph.D. in music composition from Princeton University. Shockley has held residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Atlantic Center, the Virginia Center for the Arts, Italy’s Centro Studi Ligure, and France’s Centre d’Art Marnay Art Centre (CAMAC), among others, and he has received grants from the American Music Center, Pittsburgh ProArts, the Mellon, and the Heinz Foundations.

His works have been performed at the International Society of Bassists Convention, the Composers Concordance Festival, Electronic Music Midwest, the American Choral Directors Association Conference, the Spark (Minneapolis), U3 (Pittsburgh), Montecito (California), and Frontiera (Pisa) festivals, and at the American Academy in Rome, the University of Cape Town, the Fondation des États-Unis in Paris, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, New York City’s Merkin Hall, Columbia University’s Miller Theater, and other locations around the globe, including performances in Berlin, Sydney, Stellenbosch, Oxford, Montreal, Maribor, Munich, Bucharest, Essen, Toronto, and Amsterdam, among many others. His electronic works have been installed in Jack Straw Studio’s New Media Gallery in Seattle, Minneapolis’ Weisman Art Museum (for a Bob Dylan exhibition), as part of the International Computer Music Conference, and in Brooklyn’s VertexList Gallery, as well as in other venues across both North America and Europe. His little white house (underpass to the foundation), 1 p.m. for nine player toy pianos formed a part of Trimpin’s installation klavier nonette.

His new study of extended techniques for piano, The Contemporary Piano (forthcoming from Rowman & Littlefield), includes a full chapter devoted to writing for the toy piano as well as extended techniques for the instrument. Shockley is an Associate Professor and the Director of Composition/Theory in the Bob Cole Conservatory at California State University, Long Beach.  

What sparked your interest in toy piano?
I acquired my first (of many) toy pianos almost 20 years ago, and have been playing and writing for the instrument ever since.  

What do you hope to achieve artistically or educationally from your participation in the festival?
I love the toy piano and hope to connect to other composers and performers who do, too. 

Professional Website


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