Composer Shirish Korde is celebrated for "integrating and synthesizing music of diverse cultures into breathtaking works of complex expressive layers" (Musical America). He is among "a few contemporary composers who have been deeply touched by music of non-western cultures, Jazz, and computer technology, and who has created a powerful and communicative compositional language" (Computer Music Journal). His distinctive music has been performed throughout the US and Europe.
Among his widely performed works are: "The Tenderness of Cranes, an expressively virtuosic and beautiful work" (The Washington Post), influenced by the techniques of the Japanese Shakuhachi; Time Grids for Amplified Guitar and Tape, a work heralded for its "sonic brilliance and arresting use of the electronic medium," (Fanfare); Constellations for Saxophone Quartet; The Chamber Concerto; and Drowned Woman of the Sky, a cycle of songs on poems of Pablo Neruda.
Korde has composed four large-scale music-theater works in collaboration with director Lynn Kremer: Rasa, Bhima's Journey, The Separate Prison (Jazz Opera), and The Conquistadors. Each of these are characterized by strong influences of Asian dramatic and musical forms, especially Balinese Gamelan and shadow puppetry, Vedic chant, Tuva music from Central Asia, North Indian tabla, shakuhachi music, jazz, as well as the use of computer voice synthesis techniques. In Rasa (1993), a Chamber Opera for a soprano soloist, chamber ensemble, tape, choir, and ten actors, these diverse world musical styles are seamlessly integrated into the fabric of the music, creating a tapestry of musical images. The score serves to intensify and add depth to the cultural transformations that the heroine, Jasmine, undergoes and which are portrayed dramatically in the opera. Rasa was awarded an NEA opera grant and has been presented in workshop form in Worcester, Boston, and Fort Worth.
Shirish Korde's grants and awards include the National Flute Association, Composer's Inc., The Fuller Foundation, The Lef Foundation, The Massachusetts Council for the Arts, The National Endowment for the Arts, The New England Foundation for the Arts, The Mellon Foundation, The Artists Foundation, and Meet the Composer. His works are recorded on Spectrum, Centaur, and Neuma, and have been reviewed in Fanfare, The American Record Guide, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The London Times, and Musical America.
In addition to his classical compositions, Shirish Korde has created several works for Jazz Ensemble, including the Jazz Opera The Separate Prison for actors, singers, and Jazz quintet, and a set of Jazz Songs for Jazz vocalist plus small ensemble based on texts by Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and Alice Walker. He has also collaborated with Balinese musicians Desak Made Suarti Laksmi and I Nyoman Catra to create new works, including a setting of Tagore's poem "When the Creation..." for Balinese singer, Gender, and chamber ensemble. In a more experimental vein, he has composed a large-scale work, Spiral Constellations, for Disclavier, Percussion, and real-time computer technology. He has also worked with Indian Classical Dancers, Filmmakers and Video Artists in multi-media projects.
Shirish Korde's current projects include a work for solo voice, percussion quartet, and tape for the Talujon Percussion Quartet, which is based on the poetry of the Indian mystic poet Mirabai, and a work for string quartet for the St. Lawrence Quartet.
Shirish Korde is a composer of Indian descent who spent his early years in East Africa. He arrived in the United States in 1965, already well versed in the traditions of Indian and African music. He studied jazz at Berklee College of Music, composition with Robert Cogan at New England Conservatory, and ethnomusicology (especially Asian Music, including Indian drumming) with Sharda Sahai at Brown University. Currently he is Chair and Professor of Music at College of the Holy Cross, and also teaches at the New England Conservatory of Music.