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Composer/performer https://benneill.com (Ben Neill) is the inventor of the Mutantrumpet, a hybrid electro-acoustic instrument, and is widely recognized as a musical innovator through his recordings, performances and installations. Neill’s music blends influences from electronic, jazz, and minimalist music, blurring the lines between digital media and acoustic instrument performance.
Neill has recorded eleven albums of his music on labels including Universal/Verve, Thirsty Ear, Astralwerks, and Six Degrees. Currently he is an Artist in Residence at Nokia Bell Labs where he is exploring new modes of emotion transfer and communication between people using music, visual media, and hybrid instruments. Performances include BAM Next Wave Festival, Big Ears Festival, Lincoln Center, Whitney Museum of American Art, Bing Concert Hall at Stanford, Getty Museum, Cite de la Musique Paris, Moogfest, Spoleto Festival, Umbria Jazz, Bang On A Can Festival, ICA London, Istanbul Jazz Festival, Vienna Jazz Festival, and the Edinburgh Festival, among many others. Neill has worked closely with many musical innovators including La Monte Young, John Cage, John Cale, Pauline Oliveros, Rhys Chatham, DJ Spooky, David Berhman, Mimi Goese, King Britt, and Nicolas Collins. Neill also leads concerts of La Monte Young’s The Second Dream of the High Tension Stepdown Line Transformer with an international brass ensemble; performances have recently been presented in New York, Amsterdam, Paris, Amsterdam, Huddersfield, Den Bosch, Oslo, Krems, Koln, Los Angeles, and Warsaw.
Neill began developing the Mutantrumpet in the early 1980s. Initially an acoustic instrument (a combination of 3 trumpets and a trombone combined into one), he collaborated with synthesizer Robert Moog to integrate electronics. In 1992, while in residency at the STEIM research and development lab for new instruments in Amsterdam, Neill made the mutantrumpet fully computer interactive. In 2008 he created a new version of his instrument at STEIM, and returned there in 2016-17 to design Version 4.0 which made its debut 2019. See a more detailed history of the instrument https://benneill.com/portfolio/mutantrumpethistory/ (here).
Other current projects include a collaboration with vocalist/composer Mimi Goese that explores the musical and poetic qualities of mathematics and science through collaborations with chaos mathematician Ralph Abraham and the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries. The new songs combine the interplay of Goese’s captivating vocals and the electroacoustic explorations of Neill’s self-designed mutantrumpet with sounds created from fractal mathematics and Hudson River environmental data.
A native of North Carolina, Neill holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from Manhattan School of Music. He studied composition with La Monte Young and was also mentored by composer/performer Jon Hassell in the early 1980’s. Since 2008 he has been a music professor at Ramapo College of New Jersey.
BEN NEILL PRESS QUOTES
“Ben Neill is using a schizophrenic trumpet to create art music for the people.”
“Ben Neill performs the Mutantrumpet, a super-instrument of his own design that he also uses to control lights and other elements in the show. The music is a dense, continously-shifting tapestry of electronic beats.”
“The avant-garde and EDM come together in music by Ben Neill and his mutantrumpet.”
WNYC New Sounds/John Schaefer
“A creative composer, genius performer