Eleanor Hovda (March 27, 1940 – November 12, 2009) was a composer and dancer from the United States of America. She was born March 27, 1940 in Duluth, Minnesota. She passed away November 12, 2009 at the Circle of Life Hospice in Springdale, Arkansas.
"In Hovda, we have a wonderful example of that "X" factor that makes certain artists transcendent and musical theorists sputter in frustration at the challenge of the evanescent perfection of art."
-- Robert Carl, Fanfare
Eleanor Hovda, composer and dancer received her Bachelors of Arts in music at American University in Washington D.C. and her MFA in Dance at Sarah Lawrence College.
Eleanor’s music has been performed extensively in the US and abroad by such outstanding ensembles as the Netherlands Wind Ensemble, KlangForum (Vienna), the Cassatt and Kronos Quartets, Zeitgeist, Bang on a Can All-Stars, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Boston Music Viva, The California Ear Unit and the St. Louis Symphony.
Performance venues include Ozawa Hall (Tanglewood), Alice Tully, Carnegie Hall Weill, Miller, Walter Reade and Merkin Concert Halls; The Kitchen, Bang on a Can Festival and the Alternative Museum (NYC) the Purcell Room (London), The American Academy (Rome), the American Center (Paris), the WDR (Cologne), Cerventino Festival (Mexico), New Music Forum (Mexico City), Holland Festival (Amsterdam), Vienna, Madrid, Barcelona, Tokyo and Asahikawa (Japan); colleges and universities including Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Swarthmore; The Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), and New Music America. Remote, a collaboration with Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project, toured nationally and made its NYC premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1997.
She has held appointments as Full Professor/Composer-in-Residence on the music faculties of Princeton and Yale Universities, and Bard College. Music and dance appointments include residencies at Sarah Lawrence College, Wesleyan University, the College of St. Scholastica and the American Dance Festival.
She is survived by Jeannine Wagar, brothers Vincent Hovda and Russell Hovda and many close friends.
There are any number of ways to describe artists who work at the margins: underrated, overlooked, a musician’s musician. But if many slip into the cracks, there are a few who actively relish those cracks, a few who seek to split the rocks apart with inexorable innovation and provocatively big musical ears. Eleanor Hovda (1940–2009) was such an artist, and innova is honored to present The Eleanor Hovda Collection, the definitive 4CD archive of her mind-blowing works.
Robert Carl of Fanfare Magazine called her one of the major composers of her generation because of her “exquisitely refined musical personality, overflowing imagination and constantly inventive craft.” That inventiveness was seemingly inexhaustible: her music is coloristic and textural, with minimal melodic elements. It anticipated immersive ambient drone, trance, and spectral music long before they became fashionable. Her music’s intimate connection with the human body was expressed in her extensive work with dance legends like Nancy Meehan and Mikhail Baryshnikov, who choreographed her string quartet, Lemniscates, for his White Oak Dance Project.
But it’s more than timbral music for dance. Hovda’s music was for choreographing the whole breathing human body. On the surface, it sounds almost improvisatory—emotional, multi-faceted and searingly intense—partly because of her use of extended techniques that highlight the overtone series, breath, resonant spaces and psychoacoustical phenomena. But beneath the surface the pieces are intricately organized and scored—the better to focus their powerful effects. Immersing yourself in this collection will lead to an altered and ecstatic shift of realities akin to Brian Eno, Harley Gaber, the Grateful Dead, Tristan Murail, Karlheinz Stockhausen, or anyone who likes a little grit with their bliss. It will remind you that the days of the 1960s avant garde have significant reverberations today and will still be echoing tomorrow. It will fill your being with sound as well as the spaces around that sound. Just set aside four hours and crank the headphones.
Her music has been performed extensively and by such outstanding ensembles as the Kronos Quartet, Zeitgeist, California EAR Unit, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, and many other contemporary and symphony ensembles. She was a full professor/composer-in-residence on the music faculties of Princeton, Yale, and Bard College. Her residencies included music and dance appointments at Sarah Lawrence College, Wesleyan University, the College of St. Scholastica, and the American Dance Festival. A long debilitating illness at the height of her career led to a decline in activity and her passing in Arkansas in 2009.
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