kitty brazeltonbiography
me smiling after a show

Kitty Brazelton feels we are ready for a change.

"Music is a living language spoken between listeners and music-makers," she says. "Like any language, despite the solidifying effect of notation and recordings, music evolves. We don't segregate our increasingly multilingual music-listening, and we can't primly parse out our music-making, either. We can't say what needs to be said in languages that no longer reflect the way we live."

For Brazelton, stylistic or genre-based separations are as untenable as trying to keep water apart---it inevitably flows into one ocean. So she launches her efforts without fear of pre-ordained boundaries, full of faith in music's ability to communicate.

Indeed, Brazelton (D.M.A. Columbia University 1994) rejoices in the keener expression she gets by infusing vernacular American dialects into deep, complex structures. Her full-length opera Fireworks, commissioned by American Opera Projects, concerns an extraterrestrial discovering the 4th of July, and incorporates Caribbean rhythmic motifs, r & b and classic recitative. She leads exploded rock bands (her second CD with the nonet DADADAH, Love Not Love Lust Not Lust, was hailed by Rolling Stone magazine as an "album of impressive nerve") and composes dynamic orchestral works (Sleeping Out of Doors (1998), her piano concerto commissioned and premiered by conductor Kristjan Järvi's Absolute Ensemble, featured electric bass and amplified classical guitar). Her chamber music ranges from the N.Y.S.C.A.-commissioned cyber-punk fantasia 5 dreams; marriage (co-written with Dafna Naphtali and premiered by their unique quartet WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A BAT? at Sound Symposium 2000 in Newfoundland) to innovative works for the Manhattan Brass Quintet and the California EAR Unit (heard on her forthcoming CRI Emergency album "Chamber Music for the Inner Ear," due in spring 2002).

Now a full-time composer/professor at Bennington College, Brazelton's teaching experience as BMI Composer-In-Residence at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art in New York City, as a Lincoln Center Institute visiting artist and faculty member at NYU and Columbia University, supports her concept. "Students feel forced to make choices between 'pop,' 'ethnic' and 'classical' music styles," she notes. They leave Kitty's classes empowered to find their own voices, drawing on all they've come to know and love.

(Brazelton includes as her own teachers: Jack Beeson, Robert Fripp, Harrison Birtwistle, Steve Mackey, George Edwards, Jonathan Kramer, Brad Garton and Susan Blaustein.)

Daughter of prominent pediatrician Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, Kitty grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near Harvard where she studied Mayan dialect at the age of 14. At 17 she decided to be a sculptor, but at Swarthmore College became a musician instead. She studied modernism and medieval plainchant by day, free jazz and acid rock by night, and combined them all in her first band MUSICA ORBIS, whose LP To The Listeners (Longdivity-Rounder Records, 1977) won an avid East Coast cult following and national critical acclaim.

Ever since, in her bands such as Hide the Babies, Dadadah, Hildegurls and BAT?, in electronic compositions prepared at the Columbia Computer Music Center, and in special projects such as those for pianist Kathleen Supové, duos twisted tutu and Double Edge, ensembles Kitchen House Blend and Relâche, she's championed the universal nature of music.



Dr. Brazelton lives in Manhattan's East Village with her husband, writer Howard Mandel, and daughter Rosalis Moon Mandel.

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© 2001, Catherine Bowles Brazelton