Tyshawn Sorey


Presidential Assistant Professor of Music


Room 306, LERNER CENTER/6313


Tyshawn Sorey’s (he/him/his) wide ranging work has spanned a multitude of musical and performance mediums, while at the same time defying distinctions between musical genres, composition, and improvisation. An active drum set player, percussionist, trombonist, pianist, conductor, educator, and ensemble leader, Sorey has released twelve recordings that feature his work as a composer, improviser, multi-instrumentalist and conceptualist. 

Sorey is a creative artist whose work is impossible to categorize. He has maintained a lifelong interest in establishing an alternative musical model that celebrates genre mobility as an artistic ideal and a compositional attitude, both within and outside of the improvisation-composition continuum. As an artist whose creative output has been rendered “unpredictable to the point of unnerving” (The New Yorker), Sorey’s written and spontaneously composed works can range from lyrical, expressive content to slowly unfolding, barely inaudible sonorities and gestures. Moreover, his music can also contain raucous, maximalist structures that are influenced by noise, death metal, and fast-paced improvisations. Finally, his music also largely deals heavily in multiple streams of black American music – including improvisation and groove-oriented vernacular musics – as well as West African, Afro-Cuban, and Asian folkloric, ritual, and ceremonial traditional musics and practices. 

Tyshawn Sorey received a B.Music in Jazz Studies and Performance from William Paterson University, an M.A. in Music Composition from Wesleyan University, and a D.M.A. in Music Composition from Columbia University. He cites Fred Lerdahl, George Lewis, and Anthony Braxton among his principal teachers. 

Sorey’s many collaborations include recordings, premieres, and performances with past and present seminal figures in contemporary music, including Braxton, Lewis, Vijay Iyer, John Zorn, Olga Neuwirth, Roscoe Mitchell, Julia Bullock, Butch Morris, Stephen Gosling, Jen Shyu, Jason Moran, Nicole Mitchell, Peter Evans, Steve Lehman, Marilyn Crispell, Fay Victor, Val-Inc, Klangforum Wien, Wadada Leo Smith, Evan Parker, the Lucerne Festival Players, Muhal Richard Abrams, Myra Melford, Matana Roberts, HPrizm of Antipop Consortium, Joe Morris, and Claire Chase, among many others. He has composed numerous works for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the International Contemporary Ensemble, PRISM Quartet, JACK Quartet, TAK Ensemble, the McGill-McHale Trio, bass-baritone Davone Tines, Alarm Will Sound, the Louisville Orchestra, and tenor Lawrence Brownlee with Opera Philadelphia in partnership with Carnegie Hall, as well as for countless collaborative performers. His music has been performed in notable venues such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Village Vanguard, the Ojai Music Festival, the Newport Jazz Festival, the Kimmel Center, and the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center. He is currently Composer-in-Residence at Opera Philadelphia and for the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Upcoming projects include a work for violinist Jennifer Koh and chamber orchestra, a short work for pianist Awadagin Pratt and vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, a project for the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and Ensemble Intercontemporain, a recording with a new self-formed electroacoustic ensemble, and an extended composition commemorating the 50thanniversary of the Rothko Chapel featuring Kim Kashkashian, Steve Schick, Sarah Rothenberg, and the Houston Chamber Choir. 

Tyshawn Sorey was recently named a 2018 United States Artists Fellow and a 2017 MacArthur Fellow. Among other honors he has received include two grants from the Shifting Foundation, a Robert Rauschenberg artists residency, a performance residency at The Kitchen the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Impact Award, two residency grants from the Jerome Foundation in partnership with Roulette Intermedium, a residency at the 17th annual Other Minds Festival, and a Van Lier Fellowship.