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BRYCE DESSNER is a composer/guitarist/curator based in New York City, best known as the guitarist for the acclaimed rock band The National. Their albums Alligator (2005) and Boxer (2007) were named among albums of the decade in publications throughout the world. Their most recent release, High Violet (2010), debuted at #3 on the US Billboard chart and at #5 in the UK charts. Dessner has also received widespread acclaim as a composer and guitarist for the improvising new music quartet, Clogs. Bryce has performed and/or recorded with some of the world’s most creative musicians including songwriters Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, Antony Hegarty, Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo, composers Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Nico Muhly and Michael Gordon, and the contemporary ensembles Kronos Quartet and the Bang on a Can All-Stars, and visual artist Matthew Ritchie.
As a composer, his recent commissions include a Jerome Grant from the American Composer’s Forum and the Kitchen (NYC) for a full concert of his music in March 2007, and a commission from Thyssen Bornemisza Art Contemporary (Vienna) to create a 40-minute spatial sound work for the Morning Line, a large outdoor sound pavilion by artist Matthew Ritchie. Other new works include a commission by the Rosenbach Library in Philadelphia for the Lincoln Shuffle, a composition in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s bi-centennial, and The Long Count, an origins story told in myth, music and video, commissioned by BAM for the 2009 Next Wave Festival. Bryce also recently composed two string quartets, Aheym and Tenebre, for the Kronos Quartet. Other recent commissions include a new piece for the Bang on a Can All-Stars, a collaborative work for the Brooklyn Youth Chorus with composer Nico Muhly for St. Ann’s Warehouse in Dumbo NYC, and commissions from the American Composers Orchestra,
In 2012, Bryce and Aaron Dessner brought The Long Count to Barbican in London for its UK debut and are currently creating the score for the film “Big Sur”. 2012 also brings a collaborative song cycle with Sufjan Stevens and Nico Muhly and new commissions for the Amsterdam Sinfonietta. Also on the horizon in 2013 are new works for eighth blackbird and LA Dance Project, and an evening with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus.
Dessner is also the creator and artistic director of the acclaimed MusicNOW Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio, which will present its eighth season in 2013. He is co-founder and owner of the Brassland record label, which is home to a diverse group of artists including the experimental rock duo Buke and Gass, celebrated young composer Nico Muhly and cellist Erik Friedlander. Bryce and his brother Aaron also recently produced an extensive AIDS charity compilation, Dark was the Night, for the Red Hot Organization. The ambitious record features exclusive new recordings and collaborations from a long list of artists including David Byrne, Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, Sharon Jones, Cat Power, Grizzly Bear, My Morning Jacket and Spoon. Dark was the Night has raised over 2 million dollars for AIDS charities as of January 2012. Bryce Dessner now serves on the board of The Kitchen in New York City and is a graduate of Yale College and the Yale School of Music.