Composer / Conductor / Clarinetist



Composer/conductor/clarinetist Evan Ziporyn's music has taken him from Balinese temples to concert halls around the world.

He has composed for and collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Brooklyn Rider, Maya Beiser, Ethel, Anna Sofie Von Otter, the American Composers Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Iva Bittova, Terry Riley, Don Byron, Wu Man, and Bang on a Can. In 2017, his arrangements were featured on Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s The Vietnam War, and on Silkroad’s Grammy-winning album Sing Me Home.

Most recently, his orchestral reimagining of David Bowie's final album, Blackstar, was recently released on Islandia Music, featuring Ziporyn conducting his own Ambient Orchestra with Maya Beiser, cello soloist. Since its 2017 premiere, Ziporyn has conducted the work in Boston, Barcelona, New York Central Park Summerstage, Australia's Adelaide Fringe Festival, Strathmore Hall, and numerous other national and international venues. 2019 also saw the world premieres of two new works, the drum concerto Impulse Control for the Bowling Green New Music Festival, and the gamelan/string hybrid Air=Water for Philadelphia's Network for New Music. Other recent works include the collaborative immersive installation Arachnodrone/Spider's Canvas with Christine Southworth, which premiered at Paris' Palais de Tokyo in 2018, and The Demon in the Diagram with visual artist Matthew Ritchie and choreographer Hope Mohr.
Ziporyn studied at Eastman School of Music, Yale, and UC Berkeley with Joseph Schwantner, Martin Bresnick, and Gerard Grisey. He received a Fulbright in 1987, founded Gamelan Galak Tika in 1993, and composed a series of groundbreaking compositions for gamelan and western instruments, as well as evening-length works such as 2001's ShadowBang, 2004's Oedipus Rex (Robert Woodruff, director), and 2009’s A House in Bali, which was featured at BAM Next Wave in October 2010. He released two albums of his orchestral works with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, featuring tabla master Sandeep Das as soloist.

From 1992-2012 he served as music director, producer, and composer/arranger for the Bang on a Can Allstars, winning Musical America’s Ensemble of the Year award in 2005. He has also recorded and toured with Paul Simon (You're the One) and the Steve Reich Ensemble, sharing in the latter's 1998 Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance. In 2012 he formed the Eviyan Trio with Iva Bittova and Gyan Riley, with whom he recorded two albums. He has also released numerous albums on Cantaloupe Music, New World, CRI, Airplane Ears, and other labels. Other honors include a USA Artist Fellowship, the Goddard Lieberson Prize from the American Academy, Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship, and commissions from Carnegie Hall, Kronos Quartet, Rockefeller Multi-Arts Program, and Meet the Composer. As a conductor recent appearances include LA Opera (Keeril Makan’s Persona), Hamburg Elbsphilharmonie (Julia Wolfe/Bill Morrison’s Fuel), the Barcelona Symphony, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. At MIT he is Distinguished Professor of Music, Director of the Center for Art, Science and Technology, and currently Guest Director of the MIT Symphony Orchestra.


Bowie is already symphonic. But last night another color was added to his music, a rich and adventurous density that easily and forcefully connected high and popular culture.

Javier Blanquez, El Mundo

Evan Ziporyn founded THE AMBIENT ORCHESTRA in January 2016 as a People’s Orchestra for the 21st Century. Our repertoire is the 'hidden-in-plain-sight' recorded masterworks of ambient music, electronica, progressive rock, fusion jazz, and world music. We seek to transform this treasure trove of beloved recorded repertoire into large-ensemble, live human performance, to help audiences connect to the intensity - and necessity - of the orchestral idiom.

Ziporyn has built his career from the outset around ideals of cultural cross-pollination, in his own work as a composer for both Western instruments and Balinese gamelan, and in his active performing life as a clarinetist.

Jeremy Eichler, The Boston Globe

Exuberant blast of metal fireworks.

Anne Midgette, New York Times
May 1, 2020 8 pm
MIT Kresge Auditorium
Cambridge, MA 02139

Gamelan Galak Tika performs traditional Balinese music and dance plus Evan Ziporyn's classic Kekembagnan
This cross-cultural ensemble combines the lattice-like beauty of traditional Balinese gamelan with 21st century composition and technology, finding common ground and opening audiences' ears to both. Celebrating our 20th season in residence at MIT, Galak Tika has established an international reputation for its captivating, genre-bending performances, traversing from classical Balinese dance to previously unimagined new possibilities. We've premiered new works for gamelan and western instruments by Terry Riley, Glenn Kotche, Evan Ziporyn, Christine Southworth, Dewa Ketut Alit, and others, and have collaborated in performance with the Kronos Quartet, Wu Man, Signal, the New England Conservatory Philharmonia, Robert Black, and numerous dance and theater ensembles in the US and in Indonesia. We've performed to large crowds and rave reviews at such venues as Lincoln Center Out of Doors, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Southern Exposure Festival, several Bang on a Can Marathons, Carnegie Hall's Making Music series, the Bali International Arts Festival, and at dozens of universities and venues in New England and the eastern seaboard of the US. Our recordings are available on New World, New Albion, and Airplane Ears Music.

Spider’s Canvas is truly the most collaborative project I’ve ever been involved in. It’s not just interdisciplinary but literally interspecies. The real ‘first mover’ was the spider herself. In performance, all four humans have an equal effect on everything the audience sees and hears.

Evan Ziporyn
Spider’s Canvas / Arachnodrone is an immersive, synesthestic performance/installation that allows audience members to experience ‘life in the web.’ A co-creation of composer and MIT CAST Faculty Director Evan Ziporyn, composer/visual artist Christine Southworth, sound artist Ian Hattwick, spider researcher Isabelle Su, and based closely on a tent-web made by a South American cyrtophora citricola spider, the work is not simplyinterdisciplinary, but quite literally an interspecies collaboration.

Spider’s Canvas was inspired and commissioned by visual artist Tomas Saraceno, and was premiered in November as part of Saraceno’s acclaimed exhibition at Palais de Tokyo in Paris.

Ziporyn began with slow, pure tones, resonant stabs piercing the silence before branching out with more virtuosic language, showcasing a remarkable facility. He picked up the bass clarinet to open a suite of nine movements composed by Christine Southworth, the first of which featured dizzying, pre-recorded harmonies of what sounded like a Cambodian choir. Ziporyn's dark, elastic phrasing and rhythmic pad-popping cycled over many layers of marimba sounds, thumb-pianos, assorted percussion and the swirl of spoken voices. The suite was an unqualified creative success.

Robert Bush, News 7 San Diego

New pieces for clarinet, bass clarinet, samples and electronics, written in January 2013 on a mangrove island off the coast of Panama, and in the summer of 2013 in the Landlocked Forest, Lexington, MA. Test-driven on the sound system of a '79 MGB, generally en route to or from Walden Pond. Premiered & recorded at the Old Quarry in Acton, MA on September 7, 2013, as part of CAI's 1st Biennial Festival of Performance & Sound Art. All music and electronics are by Christine Southworth and Evan Ziporyn.

CREDITS Wargasari is built around Balinese vocalist Ni Lemon's 1928 recording of the same name, used with permission of World Arbiter Records. Mungangara Base, Malumé Remix & Mugasha Loop contain samples from tracks from Tanzania Instruments 1950, recorded by Hugh Tracey: Mungangara by Ruthahindurwa Lukaka, Malumé Gasimba Chilumenda by Ngaina Nolo & Mtonya Bota, and Mugasha by Habib Bin Seliman; all used with permission of SWP Records.

Recorded, mixed and edited by Christine Southworth & Evan Ziporyn, with additional mixing by Joel Gordon. All compositions ©2013 Airplane Ears Music (ASCAP)


“Ziporyn’s arrangement draws out the epic sweep, translating Bowie’s introspection into letters big enough for sky-writing. It turns out the combination of cutting edge classical music and the work of an arty rock hero can sound pretty sweet”

Jeremy Goodwyn, WBUR [on EZ's arrangements of Bowie's Blackstar]


"Distilled insights of a hybrid music come of age"

Jeremy Eichler, The Boston Globe [on EVIYAN]


Exuberant blast of metal fireworks.

Anne Midgette, The New York Times [on EZ's Tire Fire / Gamelan Galak Tika]


“intoxicating… Mr. Ziporyn’s music achieves alchemies of sound and spirit. The security with which Mr. Ziporyn moves between musical poles, and the subtlety with which he unites them...”

Steve Smith, NY Times, 2010


“the highlight for me was Tire Fire, a 1994 work by Evan Ziporyn, played by his ensemble, Gamelan Galak Tika – a fusion of Balinese gamelan, electric guitar, electric bass and keyboard – the work swings thrillingly between cacophony and lyricism: a portrait of cultural exchange always in flux.”

Steve Smith, NY Times, on Tire Fire, May 1 2012


“Evan Ziporyn's three-movement "Breathing Space" is an attractive hybrid of Minimalist simplicity and Neo-Classical elegance with an invitingly meditative inner movement, "Night Sit.”

Allen Kozinn, NY Times, on Breathing Space, early 2000s


“Using his own lungs, overdubs, and a bit of echo, Ziporyn coaxes sounds from the instrument you've never imagined. The instrument shrieks and howls, shaking at times with resonant overtones and fluttering at others in delicate curlicues of music. The lowly clarinet, it turns out, can growl like an Australian didgeridoo, splat like a snowball, yelp like a dog, shake you awake, or lull you into a gentle trance.
As a member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Ziporyn has rubbed shoulders with artists like Brian Eno, Don Byron, and the Kronos Quartet. You can hear echoes of each as you listen. You'll also hear elements of minimalism, as well as touches of Balinese Gamelan, Pakistani qawwali and American funk.
This is not a Clarinet, it turns out, is an accurate title after all, for what you once knew as a modest musical instrument becomes an entree to a world of intriguing, innovative sound.”

NPR All Things Considered, Colin Berry, review of This is Not a Clarinet (9/10/2001)


Tire Fire, a flamboyant fusion of Balinese gamelan and rock guitars into something new, personal and exhilarating…a shimmering culture clash”

Steve Smith on Tire Fire, NY Times 2010
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