Composers in Performance: Shelley Hirsch

  • Meridian Gallery 535 Powell St San Francisco, CA USA

Shelley Hirsch is an award winning, critically acclaimed vocalist, composer, and storyteller whose mostly solo compositions, staged multimedia works, improvisations, radio plays, installations and collaborations have been produced and presented in concert halls, clubs, festivals, theaters, museums, galleries and on radio, film and television on 5 continents.

She is the recipient of numerous awards, grants, fellowships in the music composition, electronic music, performance, new forms, multidisciplinary work categories, including 4 from NYFA; a Creative Capital grant; the prestigious DAAD residency in Berlin; The Ucross/Alpert residency Prize; 2 NEA grants and residencies at Yaddo,Tesla in Berlin, and 5 from Harvestworks Studio PASS in NYC. Radio plays have been commissioned by NARPA,and Kunst Radio, SFB, BDR, WDR radio stations in Austria and Germany. The radio version of her autobiographical musical piece "O Little Town of East New York" won a 1st Prize in the Prix Futura International Media Competition in Berlin.

Hirsch can be heard on 70 recordings among then her own projects "Singing" (solos/ duos w/David Simons and Samm Bennett)(Apollo) ; the solo CD's "States"(Tellus) and "The Far In Far Out Worlds of Shelley Hirsch"Tzadik); her autobiographical musical "O' Little Town of East New York" (Tzadik) and "Haiku Lingo" (Review) music for the latter 2 composed with David Weinstein). Her most recent releases are "Where Were You Then?" a suite of songs/stories composed with Swiss keyboard player Simon Ho (Tzadik) ; and improvised music CDs "Duets 10 Years After" with guitarist Uchihashi Kasuhisa (Innocent records);Berlin-Brooklyn with turntablist Joke Lanz (Rossbin)and "Walking and Stumbling Through Your Sleep w/ Hans Koch, Martin Schuetz and Fredy Studer.(Intakt)

She has performed with dozens of musicians, visual artists and film makers worldwide- Christian Marclay, Fred Frith, Anthony Coleman, Michael Evans, The Shaking Ray Levis, Tony Buck, Billy Martin, Jon Rose, Butch Morris, Phill Niblock, Okkyung Lee, Ikue Mori, David Watson, Hans Reichel, David Moss, Phil Minton, Jim Staley, John Zorn, Joey Baron, Shahzad Ismaily Jim Hodges, Ursula Scherrer, Barbara Bloom, Katherine Liberovskaya, Zoe Beloff, Nicholas Humbert and more.
Hirsch is currently an artist in residence at the Montalvo Arts Center and is working on a outdoors choral installation set on the grounds there, and is writing a spoken word piece about her colorful escapades in San Francisco in the year 1971 when she moved out here at age 18 to become a Kabuki Dancer.

She loves teaching and has given workshops and seminars at Yale and Princeton Universities, in music and art academies in Berlin , Cologne, Stuttgart and in cities in The Netherlands, Japan, Italy, Australia, Argentina. England.

"Hirsch's command of extended vocal techniques imparts enormous variety to her music. The tone of her voice can range from audacious vulnerability, to charismatic intimacy (especially in the story-telling segments), to hallucinatory excursions floating effortlessly out of the spoken/sung voice and into pure Hirschian singing. Such transitions always remain viscerally connected to the text and in context".

(Anne LeBaron/ from her essay Surrealism in PostModern Music/Garland Press )