Overview


Jeremy Wagner is a composer, performer, tinkerer and sonic artist living and working in the Bay Area. Pursuing an abiding fascination in the elaborate complexities of the physical world, he specializes in the creation of physio-aural constructions emanating from a tradition of imaginative inquiry and thoughtful experimentation. As a performer, his work spans a wide range of traditional, contemporary and experimental work, while as a composer his compositions probe the limits of human virtuosity, at all times striving to illuminate the struggle of the human being against the situation into which they are placed. His compositions have been performed on three continents by some of the world’s most gifted performers. Most recently, Jeremy’s work Pleonasme was premiered by the Arditti String Quartet at the Acanthes-Manifeste, IRCAM, Paris in July 2012 and his adaptation-electronic film score for Hisham Bizri’s Sirrocco has shown at the 2012 Cannes & 2013 Sundance film festivals, among others.

Jeremy holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Music Composition and Saxophone performance from Wichita State University where his teachers included Jean Lansing and Katherine Murdock. Moving to Minnesota in 2005, Jeremy earned both a Masters (2008) and a PhD (2012) in Music Composition from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities under the tutelage of composers Adam Greene, Douglas Geers and dissertation adviser James Dillon. He is a founding member of Minnesota’s Contemporary Music Workshop (CMW), which tirelessly champions new work; he is recipient of the 2011 McKnight Composer Fellowship, winner of the 2013 Ensemble &c. composition competition and the recipient of a project grant from New Music USA funding a commission for saxophonist Jeffery Kyle Hutchins.  Jeremy currently resides in Berkeley, CA.

Early Life & Education

Born in Kansas to parents Larry and Charlotte Wagner, Jeremy's childhood was largely a rural/suburban existence spent between the wheat fields of Western Kansas and his hometown of Hutchinson, KS.   Early on he took a deep interest in science, mathematics and music.  As a teenager he dabbled in composition using primitive music notation software that came bundled with the family's first computer.  At the time, he had envisioned a career in architecture or engineering, but while initially enrolled as an engineering major in his first year of college Jeremy was led a double life in the evenings as a working musician playing saxophone in a local band, Ophil.  Eventually, the allure of performance eclipsed his desire to become an engineer and the following year he auditioned and enrolled as a Saxophone Performance major at nearby Wichita State University. 

While attending WSU, his early interest in composition was recognized and within months he was urged by a friend to enroll in composition lessons.  Thereafter, Jeremy pursued concurrent degrees in Saxophone Performance (w/Jean Lansing) and Composition (w/ Walter Mays, Katherine Murdock & Dean Roush) graduating cum laude in 2003.  During this time Jeremy was active as a performer, serving as a founding member of both the Zeitgeist Consort new music ensemble and the Mid-Kansas Saxophone Quartet. 

While performing with the Mid-Kansas Saxophone Quartet at the 2003 World Saxophone Congress in Minneapolis Jeremy was impressed by the program offerings of the University of Minnesota and the healthy artistic climate of the surrounding Twin Cities.  In January 2005, he moved to the Twin Cities to pursue a M.M. in music composition at the Univeristy of Minnesota studying electronic and computer-music composition with composers Adam Green and Douglas Geers.  With the arrival of composer James Dillon to the U of M faculty Jeremy decided to remain at Minnesota for his PhD studies. 

Dillon's influence cannot be understated as he has encouraged and supported the types of research and experimentation that lay at the heart of Wagner's compositional practice.  Additionally, Dillon continually leveraged his considerable influence to generate performances of student works both by professional soloists and ensembles as well as student groups.  Dillon was the driving force behind the formation of the Contemporary Music Workshop (CMW), of which Wagner is a founding and active member, and which continues to present well polished programs of contemporary music. 

It was at Dillon's urging that Jeremy attended the 2010 Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik in Darmstadt, Germany.  There he had the opportunity to meet, work with and converse with composers and musicians from all over the world while also taking lessons with Brian Ferneyhough, Liza Lim, Rebecca Saunders and Vladimir Tarnopolsky.  Galvanized by this experience and bolstered by the 2011 McKnight Composers Fellowship, Wagner set to work on his Doctoral dissertation and hopes to complete this work by Spring 2012.

Areas of Research Interest

While at Minnesota Jeremy has taken part in numerous artist collaborations focusing on algorithmic and software-based approaches to sound-synthesis.   He works primarily with commercially available software packages such as Peak, Digital Performer, Ableton Live and Max/MSP, but also writes custom software in Java and Processing.  Concurrently, his research has drawn on models of natural processes, non-linear physics and chaos theory in order to understand and emulate the complex processes underlying traditional music performance.  This has required a return to the heavy mathematics and computation encountered during his early days as an aspiring engineer, but has fundamentally changed his approach to composition.  More recently, he has returned to purely acoustic composition, but still draws heavily on the approaches learned while working in the electronic studio.

Awards and Recognition

New Music USA Commission: On the Mutability of Time, 2014.
Winner Ensemble &c. composition competition, 2013.
Commission of Acanthes/Manifest @ IRCAM, Arditti Workshop, 2012.
McKnight Composer Fellowship, 2011.
Minnesota Orchestra Composers Institute, Honorable Mention, 2008.
Konrad Wolff - Ilse Bing Chamber Music Prize, 2003.

Ensemble and Professional Affiliations

Research Assistant/Performer, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players • San Francisco, CA.
Founding member, Composer/Performer, Contemporary Music Workshop (CMW) • Minneapolis, MN.
Founding member, Performer, Mid-Kansas Saxophone Quartet • Wichita, KS
Founding member, Zeitgeist Consort • Wichita, KS
Saxophonist, Almond Davis • Minneapolis, MN
Saxophonist, Ophil • Wichita, KS