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Bill Horist

County: King County




Grants for Artist Projects 2006
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Fellowship Awards 2005
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Bill Horist is a composer and instrumentalist as well as a noted improviser and performer. He has performed over 600 concerts in the past nine years in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, and Japan, performing and/or recording with such noted artists as Bill Frisell, KK Null, Matt Chamberlain, Trey Gunn (King Crimson), Tatsuya Yoshida (Ruins), Shazaad Ismaily, Eyvind Kang, Jeff Grienke, and Tucker Martine, among others. In addition, Bill has toured and recorded with a number of bands, including Nobodaddy, Phineas Gage, and Nervewheel. As a solo artist, he has toured the United States twice in support of his recent releases Soylent Radio and Songs from the Nerve Wheel. He has received grants and residencies from such organizations as Jack Straw and the Banff Centre for the Arts. He also improvises and composes for film, dance, and theater and recently traveled to Calgary to score a new major work with M-Body Dance Company.

Bill received 2006 GAP Award funding to help defray the cost of mixing sessions with a studio engineer. He is currently working in collaboration with other artists towards the completion of a new set of music that he describes as “…the sum of my total experience as an artist, composer, arranger, conductor, director, and producer.” He hopes the new compositions will be released in the fall of 2007.

As part of his Fellowship’s Meet the Artist requirements, Bill visited Highline Big Picture High School for at-risk youth in Burien to teach an improvisational music workshop and present a concert for the entire student body. He also discussed his work in the Northwest’s rich music community. He created a variation on John Zorn’s improvised music game, Cobra, and, after brief one-on-one sessions with each musician during which they examined techniques both conventional and unconventional with which to improvise, they all spent a few hours together learning the rules of the game. Finally, he and the seven student musicians performed Cobra for the entire school.

“I felt very fortunate to work with such a willing group of musicians, many of whom I don’t associate with otherwise…” Bill reported. “The fact that these kids, completely unfamiliar and decidedly unconvinced about improvisation as a stand-alone art, were willing, not only to spend the day with me, but also to get up in front of the entire school and perform was a big inspiration for me.” After the concert, students from the audience stepped out of established social circles to offer kudos to the musicians. A mother of one of the band-mates attended and was thrilled, as her son had never even performed for her at home, let alone in front of a whole school!

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Image: Peggy Piacenza, 2024 Fellowship Recipient

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