Wendy Mae Chambers

Biography

Country: United States of America  
Part serious composer and part playful performance artist, Wendy Mae Chambers has a puckish sense of humor that influences all of her work, making her much more entertaining to listen to than the majority of self-serious composers of 20th century art music.

Born on January 24, 1953, in New Jersey, Chambers received her bachelor's degree in music from Barnard College, studied piano with noted new music keyboardist Kenneth Cooper, and
Read more completed her master's in composition at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1977. Upon completing her studies, Chambers embarked upon the series of compositions and events on a grand scale that made her early name. Chambers' first success was "Music for Choreographed Rowboats" (1979), a piece performed on Central Park Lake by 24 musicians playing in rowboats oared by members of the Columbia University crew team. Her next success was 1983's "Ten Grand," a piece for ten grand pianos and a choreographed laser light show at Lincoln Center. The following year, Chambers premiered "The Grand Harp Event," a piece for 30 harps that played both at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and the inauguration of the sculpture garden at the Museum of Modern Art.

Chambers got her most high-profile commission to date when her "Liberty Overture" was performed on board a 100-foot boat in New York Harbor during the centennial celebrations for the Statue of Liberty in 1986. That same year, Chambers was commissioned by the Percussive Arts Society and delivered "Marimba!," a playful work for 26 marimbas which premiered at Kennedy Center. A smaller-scale piece, "Quills," for six harpsichords and surround-sound tapes of birdsong, premiered at Symphony Space in 1987. The enormous "Symphony of the Universe," an hour-long piece in four movements for 100 timpani, metal percussion, jazz big band, choir, church organ, and tape, premiered in 1989 and was recorded in 1993. Chambers' father died in the early '90s and she composed her most serious work to date, A Mass For Mass Trombones, in his memory. The piece for 77 trombones premiered at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in 1993. On a similar note, 1994's "Twelve Squared" is a tone poem written in memory of Chambers' friend and mentor John Cage.

Aside from her major large-scale works, Chambers also performs smaller pieces. The New York Times proclaimed Chambers "the world's foremost virtuoso of the toy piano," and Chambers has appeared on National Public Radio and CNN playing the toy piano. Another instrument that gained Chambers a lot of mainstream media attention is the car horn organ, an instrument that's pretty much what it sounds like, a series of car horns at different pitches attached to a homemade keyboard. Chambers performed on this instrument on both CNN and The Tonight Show in 2000.

Aside from her musical pursuits, Chambers is also the founder and president of Artmusic, Inc., a multimedia production company that created and produced the television show Videoville for the cable network The Learning Channel. ~ Stewart Mason Read less

There are 4 Wendy Mae Chambers recordings available.

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