Jeffrey Lependorf - Brief Bio

    photo: Stan Shire

“Passionate and urgent, but there is also the hint of a darkly humorous side.”
—Barry Cohen, The New Music Connoisseur, on “If I Could Sit, If I Could Stand, or, Oh, Bill, Oh, Susan”

“Mesmerizing…a fascinating compromise between tradition and innovation.”
—Alex Ross, The New York Times, on “Night Pond”

“Beautiful and witty writing…inspired. 
—Marlene Harding, The New Music Connoisseur, on “American Lit: the Hawthorne/Melville Correspondence”

“The most authentically post-modern production in the 2008 Fringe Festival and a true delight.”
—Elizabeth Zimmer, New York Metro, on “Tim Gunn’s Podcast (a reality chamber opera)”

Jeffrey Lependorf’s music fuses unabashed lyricism with deep literary and historic exploration and a pervasive wit.  A composer of operas and chamber music, he is also a certified master of the shakuhachi, a traditional Japanese bamboo flute, and has helped create a new repertoire of music for this ancient instrument.  His music has been performed around the globe—literally, in fact: a recording of his Night Pond for solo shakuhachi was launched into space when the shuttle Atlantis took off on May 15, 1997 and remained for a year aboard the Russian space station Mir. 

Much of his work in recent years draws on canonical musical works both as filter and raw material—often fused with meticulous transcriptions of actual speech—drawing multiple layers of meanings from these disparate materials. These include the full length opera “American Lit: the Hawthorne/Melville Correspondence” and the chamber operas “Tim Gunn’s Podcast (a reality chamber opera)” and “Proust Plans a Party.” Drawn also to the artistic possibilities inherent through collaboration, he has worked with a number of other artists.  Together with longtime collaborator poet/performance-artist Jeffrey Jullich, he has appeared as one half of Cabaret of Cruelty, the “Post-Artaud, Pseudo-Butoh, Performing Duo,” at places such as The Kitchen and HERE. Their song I Shall Kill Salman Rushdie the Blasphemer appears in Charles Bernstein’s anthology, “Patterns, Context, Time.”  He has also worked extensively with sculptor/film-maker Luca Buvoli on a series of music, film and installation projects. His score for Buvoli’s Not-a-Superhero: Wherever You Are Not received two weeks of repeat performances in the Piazza San Marco in conjunction with the 1999 Venice Bienale; installation work with Buvoli has shown at places such as the Queens Museum of Art and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The “half-seated” cantata, If I Could Stand, If I Could Sit, or, Oh, Bill, Oh, Susan, his collaboration with downtown theater artist Stuart Sherman, opened the first Downtown Arts Festival in SoHo, New York.  Recordings of some of his work are available on the Sachimay label.

Born in 1962 in Philadelphia, Jeffrey Lependorf received a doctorate in music composition from Columbia University and his undergraduate degree from Oberlin Conservatory. He also received the venerable name “Koku” (“empty nothingness”) from Kinko Master Yoshinobu Taniguchi. His Masterpieces of Western Music audio course is available through Barnes & Noble’s “Portable Professor” series and will soon be available for download through He currently serves as Director of the Music Omi International Music Residency Program in upstate New York, and also as the Executive Director of a trio of literary organizations: the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, Small Press Distribution, and the Literary Ventures Fund. He has received support from Meet the Composer, New Dramatists Compost-Librettist Studio, Harvestworks A.I.R Program, Margaret Jory Fairbank Copying Assistance Program of the American Music Center, Blue Mountain Center, Music Omi, Millay Colony for the Arts, American Opera Projects Helping Hands, National Opera Association, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation.  He has performed and had works performed across the United States, in Austria, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein and Switzerland by such groups as the Cassatt Quartet, Seattle Creative Orchestra, Belvoir Quartet, New Renaissance Chamber Artists, New Calliope Singers and others, at such venues as Music at the Anthology, Dance Theater Workshop, The Vineyard Theatre, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Hudson Opera House, Cornelia Street Café, Miller Theatre, Knitting Factory, Merce Cunningham Studio, Wexford Arts Center, ABC no Rio, Roulette, Symphony Space and the New York International Fringe Festival.