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Highlighting the Avant-Garde at New Music Circle

Torn Light actively seeks stocking, distributing, and releasing current experimental and avant-garde music, as well as essentials from the past. Many of the artists we stock have shared their art via performances at New Music Circle.

Claire Rousay, Source: New Music Circle

New Music Circle is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation based in St. Louis which curates avant-garde performances, outreach, and education. It was founded in 1959 by local musicians, composers, and architects to provide a space for performances of avant-garde music, featuring renowned artists early in their careers, such as John Cage, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Terry Riley, Morton Subotnick, Elvin Jones, Joan La Barbara, Michael Colgrass, and John Zorn.

European Free Improvisation was a central part of their programming for many years, which involved improvisation on new instruments and electronics, often using extended techniques.


Luke Stewart, Source: New Music Circle

Since 2009, New Music Circle has broadened the scope of their performances to include experimental, free improvisation, and avant-garde with influences from electronic, jazz, and classical. Sometimes, performances will feature collaborations with experimental film and other forms of multimedia as well.

New Music Circle typically programs eight performances a season, which runs from September to May. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, they have premiered and uploaded their performances to YouTube to watch from the comfort of your home. Check out their YouTube channel to view recent performances by artists such as Lisa Cameron, Luke Stewart & Damon Smith, STL String Collective, Parisian, Oxherding & Aaron Owens, Matt Nelson, and Mark Shippy & Alex Cunningham.

You can also visit their site to look at upcoming events and donate.

We have many records by artists who have at one time or another performed at New Music Circle! Explore some of these releases below, which can be purchased online or in-store.

Two performers from our CD imprint, ARKEEN, have performed at New Music Circle. Ted Byrnes performed with Michael Foster in December 2020, sharing a program with Claire Rousay, which can be viewed here. Alex Cunningham and Mark Shippy performed in March, alongside Matt Nelson, also available on YouTube. We recommend checking out Shippy and Cunningham’s recent release, Ghost Note, on Personal Archives. Lisa Cameron performed at New Music Circle within the past month, and was interviewed by Alex Cunningham as part of the program, available here.


Ted Byrnes – Moving My Body Through Space (ARKEEN)
Ted Byrnes – Tactility (ARKEEN)
Lisa Cameron & Sandy Ewen – See Creatures Too
Alex Cunningham – As Slow As The Stream (ARKEEN)
Aaron Dilloway – Gag File
Aaron Dilloway & Jeph Jerman – Casual Collisions
Terry Riley – In C
Mark Shippy and Alex Cunningham – Ghost Note
John Wiese – Escaped Language
John Wiese – Magnetic Stencil 1
John Wiese – Magnetic Stencil 2
John Wiese – Seven of Wands

Used Specialty Items

We have used items here from essential folks like Terry Riley, John Cage, Anthony Braxton, and more.

Luciano Berio – Electronic Music III
Bitchin Bajas – Bitchitronics
Anthony Braxton – Seven Standards 1985
John Cage – Concerto for Prepared Piano and Orchestra
Philip Glass – North Star
Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe – Cognition / Observation
Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe & Ariel Kalma – We Know Each Other Somehow
Natural Information Society & Bitchin Bajas – Autoimaginary
Steve Reich, Richard Maxfield, Pauline Oliveros – New Sounds in Electronic Music
Terry Riley – A Rainbow In Curved Air
Morton Subotnick – Sidewinder
Morton Subotnick – Silver Apples
Morton Subotnick – The Wild Bull

Featured Image: Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Source: New Music Circle

-Hannah Blanchette

  November 14, 2021  |  News