Frank J. Oteri

Frank J. Oteri Frank J. Oteri is a composer and music journalist based in New York City whose syncretic compositional style has been described as “distinctive” in The Grove Dictionary of American Music. His compositions include: Fair and Balanced, a saxophone quartet in quartertones premiered and recorded by the PRISM Quartet; Imagined Overtures, for rock band in sixth-tones recorded by the Los Angeles Electric 8; Love Games, settings of poems by Elizabethan sonneteer Mary Wroth premiered at SubCulture by the Young People’s Chorus of New York City conducted by Francisco Núñez; and Versions of the Truth, a 12-song cycle based on the poetry of Stephen Crane for dual-voiced singer and piano commissioned by the ASCAP Foundation Charles Kingsford Fund and premiered by Phillip Cheah and Trudy Chan (The Cheah Chan Duo). MACHUNAS, Oteri’s performance oratorio created in collaboration with Lucio Pozzi and inspired by the life of Fluxus-founder George Maciunas, premiered under the direction of Donatas Katkus during the Christopher Festival in Vilnius, Lithuania in 2005. Other interpreters of his music include pianist Sarah Cahill, harpsichordist Rebecca Pechefsky, guitarists Dominic Frasca and David Starobin, the Ray-Kallay Duo, Pentasonic Winds, Sylvan Winds, Magellan String Quartet, the Locrian Chamber Players, and Central City Chorus. In addition to his compositional activities, Oteri is the composer advocate at New Music USA and the co-editor of NewMusicBox, a web magazine he founded which has been online since May 1999. An outspoken crusader for new music and the breaking down of barriers between genres, he has written for numerous publications and is also a frequent radio guest and pre-concert speaker. Oteri is a graduate of the High School of Music and Art and holds a B.A. and an M.A. (in Ethnomusicology) from Columbia University where he served as Classical Music Director and World Music Director for WKCR-FM. In 2007, he was the recipient of ASCAP’s Victor Herbert Award.

Featured Works

Fair and Balanced — saxophone quartet in quartertones

Imagined Overtures — rock band in 6th-tones

MACHUNAS — performance oratorio

Versions of the Truth — dual-voiced male singer (baritone and soprano) and piano


Composers Now Festival will be presenting the 2018 Visionary Award to Frank J. Oteri, on January 30, 2018 at their opening event for the 2018 festival at Jazz Gallery in New York, NY. Congratulations, Frank! More information here.

Frank J. Oteri Frank J. Oteri’s voracious musical appetite finds many avenues of expression, but ultimately all lead back to his musical compositions which range from full-evening stage works to chamber and solo compositions. In all of these works, some of which employ alternative tuning systems, Oteri combines emotional directness with an obsession for formal processes incorporating techniques from styles of music as seemingly-unrelated as minimalism, serialism, Broadway show music, and bluegrass. His syncretic compositional style has been described as “distinctive” in The Grove Dictionary of American Music.

Oteri’s music has been performed on five continents in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and SubCulture in New York City to the Theatre Royal in Bath, England, Seattle’s PONCHO Concert Hall (where John Cage first prepared a piano), and a Baptist church in the middle of Emanuel County, Georgia. In 2015, the Ray-Kallay Duo performed his Oasis for four-hand retuned electric keyboard as part of the Beyond Microtonal Festival at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and the Young People’s Chorus of New York City conducted by Francisco Núñez premiered his Love Games (settings of three texts by the Elizabethan poet Lady Mary Wroth for girls chorus, harpsichord, and tambourines), a work the chorus commissioned for its Radio Radiance series. Counting Time in Central City (2015), a three-movement work for unaccompanied chorus based on the poetry of Charles Passy which was commissioned by Central City Chorus in celebration of the 35th anniversary season, will receive its world premiere under the direction of Phillip Cheah on June 4, 2016 at St. Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church in New York City. The Cheah Chan Duo (vocalist Phillip Cheah and keyboardist Trudy Chan) will give the world premiere of his most recent composition, “Prick’d” (2016), a setting of William Shakespeare’s Sonnet No. 20, during their Pride and Prejudice concert on Friday, June 24, 2016 at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields in Greenwich Village.

The PRISM Quartet has performed his quarter-tone saxophone quartet Fair and Balanced? throughout the United States as well as in China and has recorded it on their 2011 CD Dedication (released on innova). His three-movement sixth-tone rock band composition Imagined Overtures has been performed in clubs and concert halls by three different bands and is the title track of a CD released by the Los Angeles Electric 8; his Margaret Atwood song cycle The Other Side of the Window (for female voice, two flutes, toy piano, guitar, and cello) has been performed at La Mama La Galleria in New York City, the Cornish School of the Arts in Seattle WA, and at Bennington College in Vermont. MACHUNAS, a “performance oratorio in four colors” inspired by the life of Fluxus-founder George Maciunas which Oteri created in collaboration with the Italian painter/performance artist Lucio Pozzi, received its world premiere in August 2005 at the Contemporary Arts Center in Vilnius, Lithuania, as part of the International Christopher Summer Festival conducted by Donatas Katkus. (A video recording of that performance can be streamed from the Other Minds Video Archive.) Among the most active champions of Oteri’s vocal music is the Cheah Chan Duo who have performed his 1982 song cycle the nurturing river based on 14 sonnets by James R. Murphy at St. Luke’s, the Tenri Cultural Institute, and during Symphony Space’s 2011 “Music of Now” marathon and, in 2013, premiered his 2012 Stephen Crane song cycle Versions of the Truth, which was commissioned by the ASCAP Foundation Charles Kingsford Fund, on an all-Oteri program. Other interpreters of Oteri’s music include: singers Robert Frankenberry, Gilda Lyons, Cybele Paschke, Anne-Marie Taylor, and Kathryn Weld; clarinetist Michiyo Suzuki; guitarists Dominic Frasca and David Starobin; keyboardists Sarah Cahill, Elaine Funaro, Robert Heath, Jenny Lin, Rebecca Pechefsky, and Marvin Rosen; the Magellan and Roebling String Quartet; Pentasonic Winds, Sylvan Winds, and the Locrian Chamber Players. Pianist Guy Livingston has toured around the world playing Oteri’s Last Minute Tango and has also recorded it for the DVD One Minute More in which it is presented along with an accompanying video by Dutch filmmaker Thijs Schreuder. (This recording can be streamed from NPR.)

In addition to his activities as a composer, Oteri is a frequently published music journalist and the Composer Advocate at New Music USA where he also serves as the co-editor of the award-winning web magazine NewMusicBox, which has been online since 1999. Described as “passionate and knowledgeable” in the San Francisco Chronicle, Oteri is an outspoken crusader for new music and lesser-known repertoire who has given presentations about the importance of contemporary music and the breaking down of musical barriers on television and radio as well as in conferences of musical organizations around the world, including Chamber Music America, the Contemporary Music Centre (Ireland), the League of American Orchestras, OPERA America, the International Association of Music Information Centres (IAMIC), and the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM). In March 2016, he was elected to ISCM’s Executive Committee. Oteri gave the keynote address at the 2010 SCI (Society of Composers, Inc.) conference at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, was a guest speaker at the 2012 John Duffy Composer Institute at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, and has served as a member of the faculty for the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute since 2007. He has been invited to lecture students at Yale University, Manhattan School of Music, Sarah Lawrence College, the Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland State University, and Seattle’s Cornish School of the Arts in Seattle WA as part of a 2008 composer residency. In 2016, he spoke at The Juilliard School, Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico. He also regularly moderates pre-concert talks at venues around the country including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Walt Disney Hall, the Detroit Symphony’s Orchestra Hall at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, the Buffalo Philharmonic’s Kleinhans Music Hall, the Cleveland Orchestra’s Severance Hall, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. He has served as a program annotator for Carnegie Hall, the Tanglewood Festival, and numerous CD recordings. His musical articles have appeared in BBC Music, Chamber Music, Symphony, and Ear magazines as well as Stagebill/Playbill, Time Out New York, and the Revised New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, and his comments about music have been quoted in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and World Report, Billboard, the Guardian (U.K.) and Jazz Times, among other publications. Oteri holds a B.A. and a M.A. (in Ethnomusicology) from Columbia University where he served as Classical Music Director and World Music Director for WKCR-FM. In 2007, Oteri was the recipient of ASCAP’s Victor Herbert Award for his “distinguished service to American music as composer, journalist, editor, broadcaster, impresario, and advocate.” Frank J. Oteri is represented by Black Tea Music.

  • Frank J. Oteri

MACHUNAS — performance oratorio

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