Christopher Preissing

“Chicago—epicenter of creative experimentation and expression; home to a myriad of composed, improvised, and invented styles; birthplace of a new international musical field—should have its EAR TAXI FESTIVAL, a focal point where arts, artists and audiences can intermingle, a festival in the heart of the city that puts it all out there, and brings it all home. As John Cage said about the Musicircus ‘You won’t hear a thing, you’ll hear everything!’”
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Composer, sound/intermedia artist, collaborator, producer and artistic instigator, Chicago native Christopher Preissing creates music and sound for live, interactive, and immersive environments. Praised by the Chicago Tribune as “brilliant”, “mechanistic” and “sound-crazy”, Preissing’s music focuses on the space between the intentional and the unintentional, between and among art forms and artists, investigating non-hierarchical relationships among materials and co-creators. Scored and electroacoustic compositions are inspired by and incorporate field recording and found sound, homemade instruments and abandoned detritus, found text and phonetic (de)construction, mathematical structures, improvisation and graphic notation. The result is a sonically visceral and emotionally direct palette that encourages synchronicity and spontaneity in composition and performance.  

Since returning to Chicago in 1997 he has collaborated with and been commissioned by choreographers (Khecari Dance, Kristina Isabelle Dance Company, enidsmithdance, Ayako Kato), filmmakers (Charlie Simokaitis/Groundfire Pictures, Octane Rich Media, Liviu Pasare, Peter Grosz), theater and opera companies (The Mammels, Opera Cabal, Chicago Robotic Theater), visual artists (Gwen Terry, Mario Gonzalez, Jr., Jay Strommen) and intermedia artist, Carmen-Helena Téllez. In 2012 Christopher founded NON:op Open Opera Works to further the creation and production of intermedia, immersive, site-adaptive opera and stage works, and to cultivate and research co-creative processes and methodologies.

He has been Artist-in-Residence and Fellow at Beloit College, Indiana University, Ragdale Foundation, Djerrassi (Pritzker Foundation Endowed Fellowship), Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (Columbus School for Girls Endowed Fellowship), Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and Atlantic Center for the Arts, and has received additional awards from the Jerome Foundation, Meet the Composer, Illinois Arts Council, City of Chicago, ICMC 60×60, and American Composers Forum.

Preissing’s music has been performed by International Contemporary Ensemble, Third Coast Percussion, Chartreuse, ensemble mise-en, Mocrep, Kosmologia, MAVerick Ensemble, William Jason Raynovich, Amy Briggs, and David Kalhous among others.

Previous director of the Chicago Composers Forum, he directed two large-scale productions of John Cage’s Musicircus (Museum of Contemporary Art, 2005 and Chicago Cultural Center, 2007) and New Music PLUS Art a live painting—live performance spectacle with the Zhou Brothers and ICE.

Current and recent projects include installations at the Evanston Art Center, Bridgeport Art Center, IIT’s Crown Hall, and the University of Notre Dame; Thunder, Perfect Mind, an immersive opera-installation; The Dante Project (directed by Carmen Téllez)and In Search of Margaretta Black, a book-sound project with Amey Miller. From March through September NON:op will be in residence at the Chicago Cultural Center developing and showing excerpts from Thunder, Perfect Mind.

An avid field recordist, Christopher may be found audio spelunking in abandoned warehouses and factories, collecting sounds in field and vale, or dumpster diving for sound objects in alleys.