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Ingram Marshall  |  Worklist  |  Audio  |  Discography
Ingram Marshall

Ingram Marshal"These are works so rich in associations, profound in their connection to our time and place in history, and so carefully and subtly made, that when they do sink in, they can very well come to haunt you."
—Mark Swed, Chamber Music Magazine

"Not since Elliot Carter has a composer extended the expressive scope of the quartet medium so meaningfully; a wonderful piece."
—John van Rhein, the Chicago Tribune, on Voces Resonae

"… [Authentic Presence is] a compelling new classic of the piano repertoire…. Marshall proved that as much as he loves his electronic washes, he can also induce ecstasy without them."
—Kyle Gann, The Village Voice

"Marshall is a composer with his own voice. The amalgam of influences on that voice includes Sibelius, Indonesian music, Eastern European folk song, electronics, and most recently, American hymns. The resulting music seamlessly and gracefully combines all these sources into a generally reflective and increasingly elegiac music that is often extremely moving. His recent Kingdom Come, for orchestra and tape, combines many of these sources into a remarkably beautiful work."
—Steve Reich, American Academy of Arts and Letters Award Citation

“Marshall is one of the few widely regarded contemporary composers who has devoted considerable attention to quality music for voices. In the 1990s he was a major force in promoting awareness of the unique singing style of Eastern European women’s choruses, and many of his works find inspiration in choral traditions outside the mainstream, such as early rural American psalmody. This he accomplished in a personal and attractive style that is unmistakably modern while avoiding gratuitous milking of its multiculturalism or appealing to a shallow mysticism.

Sunday’s highlight was the premiere of Marshall’s PsalmBook for male (alto, tenor, bass) ensemble and string quartet. The work, commissioned by Lively Arts, was based on six very early American psalms. . . . His integration of string quartet and voices was masterful.”
—San Francisco Classical Voice, on PsalmBook, premiered by Lionheart and the ACME Quartet, presented by Stanford Lively Arts, March 2012


The Nonesuch release of Ingram Marshall's Kingdom Come in 2001 brought forth praise from many critics, not the least being Adam Schatz in the New York Times who extolled the music as "some of the most stirring spiritual art to be found in America today." Touching on the "mournful, sonorous" aspect of this music, he went on to say that "the music offers a powerful recreation of solitude that is very close to an experience of the divine." In Kingdom Come, and many other works, Marshall often combines taped sounds from the "real world," and/or electronic processing, with orchestra or smaller ensembles, to create a world of sound that expresses a personal vision as well as a universal one which can affect the listener in a very direct and deep way.

Ingram Marshall’s earliest encounters with electronic music were in the mid-sixties while a graduate student at Columbia University. In 1970 he became a graduate assistant to Morton Subotnick at Cal Arts and stayed on to teach there for several years after receiving an MFA in 1971.

It was at Cal Arts that he became seduced by the dark colors and endless forms of Indonesian music. A summer study trip in 1971 to Indonesia furthered his knowledge and interest. The quality of slowed-down sense of time and dreamy evocativeness in much of Marshall's music clearly derives from what he heard and played in Indonesia. The gamelan gong forms have also influenced the way some of his works are structured.

He developed, in the mid 70s, a series of live-electronic performance pieces which employed the Balinese flute (gambuh), and analogue synthesizers with elaborate tape delay systems. His most significant live-electronic performance work from this period is The Fragility Cycles, which combines music from the gambuh series with experiments in the text-sound genre. His fascination with tape delay systems led him to try similar ideas with instrumental combinations. He has since developed a series of instrumental works which require real time electronic manipulation through tape delay or digital processing. Examples are Fog Tropes for brass sextet and tape (1982) and Voces Resonae for string quartet written for the Kronos Quartet in 1984. Fog Tropes has been widely performed and is perhaps Marshall's best-known piece.

In the early eighties, Marshall collaborated with photographer Jim Bengston on two works, Alcatraz and Eberbach, which combined moving still photography with live electronically processed music. Marshall's main focus since 1985 has been ensemble music, both with and without electronics. His Sinfonia “Dolce far Niente,” com-missioned by Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony, juxtaposes gamelan-inspired textures and rhythms with music which unabashedly derives its inspiration from composers such as Bruckner and Sibelius. Hidden Voices, commissioned by Nonesuch Records, had its premiere at New Music America at The Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1989. It features digitally sampled voices from old recordings of Eastern European lament singers along with a "live" soprano. A Peaceable Kingdom, commissioned for the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group by Betty Freeman, uses a chamber ensemble in concert with a tape part. Bearing some relationship to Hidden Voices, it combines multi-layered textures of church bells and a Yugoslavian village band with the peaceable utterances and commentary of woodwinds and strings.

In the early nineties, Marshall worked with the Kronos Quartet (Fog Tropes II) and the singer Paul Hillier for whom Sierran Songs was written in 1994. In 1996 he composed Kingdom Come on commission from the American Composers Orchestra. It was subsequently recorded and released on Nonesuch along with the Kronos version of Fog Tropes II and the Paul Hillier Theater of Voices rendition of Hymnodic Delays.

Dark Waters and Holy Ghosts were both written for oboist Libby Van Cleve and are good examples of Marshall's use of live digital delays to create rich tapestries of sound with haunting resonances of other times and cultures. They were released on New Albion in 2000.

Marshall's recent works for large ensembles include Bright Kingdoms for orchestra and tape (2003—a Magnum Opus commission), Dark Florescence, a concerto for two guitars and orchestra written for Andy Summers and Benjamin Verdery (premiered by the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in 2005), and Orphic Memories for chamber orchestra, a work based on the Orpheus myth commissioned by the New York-based ensemble Orpheus, who premiered it in April 2007 at Carnegie Hall. Among his awards have been a Fulbright Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship and awards from the American Academy of Arts and Literature.

Video introduction to Ingram Marshall's music.

To Ingram Marshall's home page.