Chris Arrell (b. 1970, Portland, Oregon) composes for throats, fingers, and oscillators. His music, praised for its nuance and unconventional beauty, has received recognition from New Music Box, the Boston Music Intelligencer, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution, among others. A computer algorithm addict and former metal guitarist who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the music of French avant-garde composer Gérard Grisey, Arrell takes equal inspiration from contemporary music and the Digital Age. Arrell’s invitations include a portrait concert at the Alte Schmiede (Vienna, Austria), selection as the Featured Guest Composer for the Ball State Univ. Festival of New Music, selection as a Composer-in-Residence by the University of Nevada (Las Vegas), and Walking in Altamira, an extensive collaboration with Collide-O-Scope Music (New York) inspired by the Altamira Cave. Arrell has fulfilled commissions for a number of ensembles and institutions including the Alte Schmiede, the Mellon Summer Research Program at Holy Cross, the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo, the Boston Musica Viva, Music at the Anthology, Spivey Hall, Cornell University, and the Fromm Foundation of Harvard University. Performances of Arrell’s music include those by Alia Musica, Bent Frequency, the Bent Frequency Duo Project, Brave New Works, the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo, the Boston Musica Viva, the Boston New Music Initiative, newEar, Nextet, Sonic Generator, Sospeso, Thamyris, the Thelema Trio, Tony Arnold and Jacob Greenberg, Amy Foote and Victoria Neve, Gerard Morris and the PSWE, Maya Hoover, Craig Hultgren, Lisa Leong, David Rahbee, Scott Pool, Rhonda Taylor, and others at venues across the US and in Canada, South America, Europe, and Australia. Publications of Arrell’s music are available from Beauport Classical, Electroshock Records, Parma Recordings, Trevco Music, and Ablaze Records. Especially influenced by Grisey’s approach to musical time, Arrell’s analysis of the composer’s Partiels, appearing in the Proceedings of the International Spectral Music Conference, is described by Nicholas Deyoe in Notes, the quarterly journal of the Music Library Association, as ”the most interesting writing about Grisey’s Partiels that I have read.” Arrell is an associate professor at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. He holds degrees from Cornell University (DMA), the University of Texas (MM), the University of Oregon (BM), and participated in the Cornell-Columbia Exchange Scholar Program. His composition teachers include Steven Stucky, Roberto Sierra, Tristan Murail, Dan Welcher, Russell Pinkston, Donald Grantham, and Robert Kyr.
Photo by Michel Raguin