As a bass clarinetist, Ziporyn has developed a distinctive set of extended techniques which he has used in his own solo works, as well as new works by Martin Bresnick, Michael Gordon, and David Lang. His 2001 solo clarinet CD, This is not a clarinet (Cantaloupe) received critical acclaim on NPR's "All Thing's Considered," PRI's "The World," and on numerous critic's top ten lists at year's end.
He has been associated with the Bang On A Can Festival since its founding in 1987, appearing as composer, soloist, and ensemble leader. As a member of the Bang On A Can All-stars, he has toured over a dozen countries and worked with composers such as Louis Andriessen, Glenn Branca, Don Byron, Alvin Curran, Nick Didkovsky, Arnold Dreyblatt, Steve Martland, Meredith Monk, Ralph Shapey, Tan Dun, Cecil Taylor, and Henry Threadgill. In addition to writing for the group and co-producing their most recent recordings, he has arranged for the group works by Brian Eno, Hermeto Pascoal, and Kurt Cobain. He also regularly performs and records as a featured soloist with Steve Reich and Musicians, and shared in their 1999 Grammy for Music for 18 Musicians. As a conductor, he has toured Europe with Germany's acclaimed Ensemble Modern and has recorded Michael Gordon's Weather with Ensemble Resonanz for Nonesuch.
Born in Chicago in 1959, Ziporyn received degrees from Yale University and the University of California, Berkeley, where his teachers included John Blacking, Martin Bresnick, Gerard Grisey, and David Lewin. Upon completing a Fullbright Fellowship in Indonesia, he became Musical Coordinator of San Francisco's Gamelan Sekar Jaya in 1988. He collaborated with Balinese composer I Nyoman Windha on Kekembangan, a border-crossing work for full gamelan and saxophone quartet. Moving to Boston in 1990 to take a teaching position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he founded Gamelan Galak Tika in 1993. His works for gamelan and western instruments have been released on two volumes for New World Records.
As a performer and recording artist, Ziporyn has worked with a range of master musicians from numerous musical cultures, including Paul Simon (with whom he toured throughout the fall of 2000), DJ Spooky, Matthew Shipp, Balinese dalang I Wayan Wija, Burmese pat waing master Kyaw Kyaw Naing, Darius Brubeck, Nobukazu Takemura, Todd Reynolds and Ethel, Sandhile Shange and Allen Kwela, Bob Moses, Andrea Parker, Trichy Sankaran, and Tony Scott. Venues have included New York's Lincoln Center, the Sydney Opera House (for the 2000 Olympic Arts Festival), Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, London's Southbank Centre, the Bali Arts Festival, and at least a dozen other countries.
As a player, Ziporyn has recorded for Sony Classical, Nonesuch, Gramavision, New Albion, and Point Music. He has received grants from the Rockefeller Multi-Arts Program, Meet the Composer, the New England Foundation for the Arts, NEA/Arts International, ASCAP, the Cambridge Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Music at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is Head of Music and Theater Arts. His puppet opera, Shadow Bang, a collaboration with Balinese puppeteer I Wayan Wija, was recently released on Cantaloupe Music. Recent projects include a new work for the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, a concerto for pipa and gamelan, and music for the American Repertory Theater's production of Oedipus Rex.more
"Ziporyn wrote his concerto for tabla master Sandeep Das, who played his instrument - two hand drums of contrasting size and timbre - with the prestidigitation of a virtuoso pianist, conjuring colors, seasons, and emotions in his pattering, pounding, and rhythmic pyrotechnics."