Composer and Trombonist
New York, NY
George Lewis, a 2019 Doris Duke Artist in the jazz category, is a composer and trombonist whose audacious experimentalism has pushed both jazz and contemporary classical music forward. Lewis’s music has been performed by ensembles all over the world, and he has worked with the world’s most exploratory musicians, including Muhal Richard Abrams, Fred Anderson, Derek Bailey, Anthony Braxton, Count Basie, Anthony Davis, Gil Evans, Douglas Ewart Steve Lacy, Joëlle Léandre, Misha Mengelberg, Roscoe Mitchell, Evan Parker, Sam Rivers, Irene Schweizer and John Zorn.
Among his major recent compositions are the opera “Afterword,” which has been presented in the United States, United Kingdom and the Czech Republic; “Remains of the Sky,” an interactive installation with multichannel sound and light, composed for the James Turrell Skysspace at Rice University; and “Soundlines: A Dreaming Track,” premiered by the International Contemporary Ensemble at the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s 2019 Noon To Midnight concerts. Lewis is also a pioneer of interactive computer music, creating programs that improvise in concert with human musicians.
A member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians since 1971, Lewis is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. His 2008 book, “A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music,” received the American Book Award and the American Musicological Society’s Music in American Culture Award. His other honors include a 2002 MacArthur Fellowship, a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2011 United States Artists Fellowship, a 1999 Alpert Award in the Arts, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and honorary doctorates from the University of Edinburgh, New College of Florida and Harvard University. Since 2004, Lewis has been the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University.