Showcase: Michael Robinson -

related review of Chinese Legend

Michael Robinson voices and colors his compositions with instrumental timbres and scale tunings from diverse world music cultures including India, Africa, the Near East, Indonesia, the Far East and South America. He composes using traditional Western notation, and programs a computer and electronic sound module to perform his music in real time without overdubbing.

The composers six most recent recordings, Chinese Legend (1997), Indian Jasmine (1997) Adorned With Pearl (1996), Rainbow Thunder (1996), Tendrils (1996) and Hamoa (1995), reflect the profound influence of North Indian classical music. There are nine additional recordings on Azure Miles containing music from 1985 through 1994. All of these CD's are audiophile quality direct-to-disk recordings autographed by the composer, and packaged with hand silkscreened rice paper from Japan. In contrast to most other composers, Robinson does not collaborate with live musicians, or interact with his computer music system during performances and recordings. He prefers what he describes as the "transcendental" expressive quality of pure computer-performed music. It is an interesting coincidence that this approach is similar to that of Conlon Nancarrow, a composer who Robinson has been compared to. In his notes to Fire Monkey (1994), Robinson wrote, "Computers are perfect instruments for the musical distillation of intellectual, sensual and spiritual energies, capable of articulating the nuances of one's soul. There is a greater emphasis on "what" rather than "who."

Robinson's music is notable for its tremendous energy, brilliant colors, strong contrasts, and a unique sense of timing, phrasing, form and flow.

COMPOSITIONS: 334 compositions for computer music systems


PERFORMANCES 67 solo concerts

New York City: Saint Peter's Church, The New York Public Library, The Knitting Factory, Washington Square Church, La Mama La Galleria, Hunter College, SIR, Wantagh High School.

Los Angeles: UCLA, Occidental College, Cal State Dominguez Hills, Electronic Cafe, Saint Augustine By-The-Sea, Santa Monica Public Library, Beverly Hills Public Library, Pasadena Public Library, Yoga West, Mud, Village Church of Westwood.

Hawaii: Seabury Hall, Malu'ulu'olele Cultural Center, Saint Anthony's Church, Saint John's Church.

THEATER: Composed music for Kumu KahuaTheater's production of Otello in Honolulu.

RADIO: Composed music for Myths Of The World, a one hour special program for KPFK in Los Angeles. Composed theme music for Up For Air, a morning news magazine on KPFK FM.


New York City: WNYC FM, WKCR FM & WBAI FM.

Los Angeles: KPFK FM & KXLU FM.

TV INTERVIEWS: Two appearances on the Spencer Grendahl Show, Century Cable, Los Angeles.

ARTICLES & REVIEWS: The New York Times, Village Voice, Los Angeles Times, Keyboard,, Journal SEAMUS, The Outlook, The Occidental, Westwood News, Chinese-American Community News, Maui News, Gardena Valley News, Lahaina News.

GRANTS/AWARDS: City of Pasadena Arts Division Grant

5 Meet The Composer California grants

Louis Armstrong Award for jazz improvisation

OTHER: Music director of improvisational music group featuring Ray Manzarek, Kala Ramnath and Souhail Kaspar.

STUDIES: Listening and Analysis Seminar with Leonard Altman and Peter Gram Swing, and Composition Seminar classes with Gunther Schuller, Jacob Druckman, Ralph Shapey, John Chowning and Paul Zukofsky at Tanglewood.

BM in Composition, Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam, including one semester Electronic Composition class with Bulent Arel at SUNY Stony Brook.

Private improvisation and saxophone lessons with Lee Konitz.

Private lessons in North Indian classical music with Harihar Rao.

Private lessons in North Indian classical music with Kala Ramnath.

Private lessons in North Indian classical music with Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy.


This Showcase appeared from 1997-2010. When revised their site in 2010, a great deal of material was deleted, including this Showcase fortunately saved and reprinted here.