Christopher Burns is a composer and improviser whose works collage and layer musical trajectories, creating imaginative juxtapositions and innovative forms. His music embraces complexity and clarity, incorporating densely braided, rapidly shifting materials alongside gradually evolving, linearly directed textures. Recent projects add digital animation, choreography, and motion capture into this mixture, integrating performance, sound, and visuals into a unified experience.
Christopher’s work as a music technology researcher shapes his creative output in both electroacoustic and instrumental chamber music. He writes improvisation software which explores a variety of unconventional musical interfaces, and facilitates the performance of multilayered electronic textures. In the instrumental domain, he uses algorithmic procedures to create and elaborate distinctive pitch and rhythmic structures. Christopher is also an avid archaeologist of electroacoustic music, creating and performing new digital realizations of music by Cage, Ligeti, Lucier, Stockhausen and others. His performance of Luigi Nono’s La Lontananza Nostalgica Utopica Futura, made in collaboration with violinist Miranda Cuckson, was named a “Best Classical Recording of 2012” by The New York Times.
Christopher teaches in the Performing Arts Technology department at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. Previous affiliations include a teaching post at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2004-2015) and Technical Director of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University (2003-2004), where he completed a doctorate in composition in 2003. He has studied composition with Brian Ferneyhough, Jonathan Harvey, Jonathan Berger, Michael Tenzer, and Jan Radzynski.
Christopher has extensive experience as a concert producer. He co-founded and produced the strictly Ballroom contemporary music series at Stanford University from 2000 to 2004, directed the Unruly Music series at UW-Milwaukee from 2006 to 2016, and has served as a contributing director for the sfSoundGroup ensemble in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2003.