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Faculty & Staff Profiles

Christopher Burns

Lecturer of Performing Arts Technology


Christopher Burns is a composer and improviser whose works collage and layer musical trajectories, creating imaginative juxtapositions and innovative forms. His music embraces complexity and clarity, incorporating densely braided, rapidly shifting materials alongside gradually evolving, linearly directed textures. Recent projects add digital animation, choreography, and motion capture into this mixture, integrating performance, sound, and visuals into a unified experience.

Burns’s work as a music technology researcher shapes his creative output in both electroacoustic and instrumental chamber music. He writes improvisation software which explores a variety of unconventional musical interfaces and facilitates the performance of multilayered electronic textures. In the instrumental domain, he uses algorithmic procedures to create and elaborate distinctive pitch and rhythmic structures. Christopher is also an avid archaeologist of electroacoustic music, creating and performing new digital realizations of music by Cage, Ligeti, Lucier, Stockhausen, and others. His performance of Luigi Nono’s La Lontananza Nostalgica Utopica Futura, made in collaboration with violinist Miranda Cuckson, was named a “Best Classical Recording of 2012” by The New York Times.

Previous affiliations include teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2004-2015) and serving as technical director of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University (2003-2004), where he completed a doctorate in composition in 2003. He has studied composition with Brian Ferneyhough, Jonathan Harvey, Jonathan Berger, Michael Tenzer, and Jan Radzynski.

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