Ken Walicki

Ken Walicki

Ken Walicki is an American composer who is widely recognized and acknowledged for his dramatic, engaging, and often humorous music, which reflects the times in which we live.

Because of his unusual and interesting background, his sound world has evolved into a unique combination of Art, Pop, Jazz, and World music. Walicki‘s influences include Gyorgy Ligeti, John Zorn, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Public Enemy, and much more.  He was one of the first composers to use turntables in his music and the first composer to have turntables and a D.J. as regular members in a standing ensemble. 

His music has been performed throughout the world by, among others, the Kronos Quartet, ETHEL, the New Century Saxophone Quartet, the Soldier String Quartet, and members of the New York Philharmonic, The Los Angeles Symphony, The Los Angeles Chamber Symphony, The Detroit Symphony, The Pacific Symphony, the Istanbul Borusan Orchestra, and the SWR Kaiserslautern Orchestra. He is the composer-in-residence for the new music ensemble The Divan Consort.  Walicki has received grants and commissions from a variety of organizations and performing ensembles including the American Composers Forum, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jerome Foundation, the Kronos Quartet, the Mary Flagler Cary Trust, and Meet the Composer.

Growing up playing guitar in local Detroit garage bands, Walicki decided, at early age, he wanted to dedicate his life to music. After hearing the Detroit Symphony play Prokofiev’s “Alexander Nevsky Suite” and attending a concert by Andres Segovia, his life was changed. He decided to pursue a career as a composer and concert artist.  Eventually, Walicki turned to composition full-time. His studies included a two-year period in Germany as a Fulbright scholar where he studied with Karlheinz Stockhausen, Helmut Lachenmann, and Rolf Hempel. He was also an active participant in master classes with Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, and William Schumann. After returning from Germany, he studied with Jere Hutcheson at Michigan State University where he received his Ph.D.

Walicki enjoys traveling and finds it to be a fantastic source of inspiration. After spending a large amount of time in the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent, he has found these cultures to be particularly close to his heart. Together these experiences have made him a composer of diverse, accessible, physically, and spiritually moving, yet intellectually rigorous music. In addition to his music being
presented in traditional concert music venues such as Lincoln Center in New York and the Liszt Academy in Budapest, his music has also been performed in new music clubs such as CBGB’s, the Knitting Factory, and countless cafes and storefronts throughout the world.

Without compromising his values, Walicki has made a point of writing music that relates to people and their situations. Walicki has collaborated with a variety of artists in the classical, pop, theater, film, and dance worlds, such as Lydia Lunch, Dora Ohrenstein, the Doug Elkins Dance Company, Emmy winning producer/director Mark Obenhaus, American Opera Projects, and Bermuda Triangle. He was the founder and composer of the Ken Valitsky Ensemble, which included Regina Carter and Thomas Chapin as members.  Previously, besides being on the faculty at New York University, Walicki has taught composition in Istanbul, Turkey at the Center for Advanced Music Techniques
(MIAM), a department of Istanbul Technical University. Currently, he lives in Southern California with his wife and son, and the family dogs Sparky and Marta and the ashes of his dead cat Fatihye. He is Professor and Director of the Composition/Theory program at California State University, Fullerton. Walicki’s music is available on Knitting Factory Works, C.R.I., CRS Artists, and Channel Records

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