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John Zorn

Drawing upon his experience in classical, jazz, rock, hardcore punk, klezmer, film, cartoon, popular, world and improvised music, John Zorn has created a controversial and influential body of work that often defies academic categories. He has earned great respect within his own community and beyond by going his own way without compromise, developing a large network of supporters world wide, often in unexpected places.

Born in 1953 and raised in New York City, Zorn has been a central figure in the Downtown Scene since 1975, incorporating a wide variety of creative musicians into various compositional formats. He is an indefatigable worker and highly prolific: he has composed over 120 works for classical ensembles including 8 string quartets, vocal music, chamber music, concerti, operas, symphonic and dance works, improvisational game pieces, studio based compositions, and has released over 150 cds under his own name, 99% of which are on his own Tzadik label.

He has led and written music for dozens of bands including Naked City, News for Lulu, Masada, Bar Kokhba, Electric Masada, Moonchild, Painkiller, Nova Express, The Dreamers, Simulacrum, Gnostic Trio, Insurrection, scored over 50 films, and written over 600 tunes (divided into 3 books) for his popular Masada project as well as a book of 300 Bagatelles which has been performed by over 30 different ensembles all over the world.

Recent projects include museum residencies where he presents short acoustic chamber concerts in various galleries in front of art that directly relates to the music. This has happened at METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, MoMA, LOUVRE, ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO, LACMA and the FRICK. Beginning in 2013 he has performed solo organ recitals, many of which are documented on The Hermetic Organ CD series on Tzadik. His work is diverse and remarkably eclectic and draws inspiration from Art, Literature, Film, Theatre, Philosophy, Alchemy and Mysticism as well as Music.

In addition to his composing, recording and performing Zorn is a firm believer in community and a tireless champion of experimental music, film, art, poetry and theatre, organizing festivals, recordings and concerts, and helping to establish venues and opportunities for performance. He founded the Tzadik label in 1995 (which has released over 800 recordings of new and adventurous music); runs the East Village performance space The Stone (which has presented over 8000 concerts and 100 musical workshops since 2005) and has edited and published eight volumes of musician’s writings under the title ARCANA.

Honors include the Cultural Achievement Award from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture and the William Schuman Prize for composition from Columbia University. He was inducted into the Long Island Hall of Fame by Lou Reed in 2010 and is a MacArthur Fellow. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Ghent, SUNY Purchase and New England Conservatory.

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Album Discography



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