To say that Carol Robinson is a Franco-American composer and clarinetist is perhaps too restrictive to describe the eclecticism of her experience and passion. In fact, she seems interested in everything having to do with sound. She is not someone who likes the middle ground, preferring the edges, the extremes. Her music is situated in those places of tenderness and rage, gentleness and power that come from experience and mastery. Trained as a classical clarinetist, she graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory before continuing her study of contemporary music in Paris thanks to a H.H. Woolley grant. Whether playing repertoire or experimental material, she performs in major venues and festivals the world over (Festival d’Automne à Paris, MaerzMuzik, Archipel, RomaEuropa, Wien Modern, Huddersfield, Geometry of Now, Angelica, Crossing the Line…), and works closely with musicians from a wide stylistic spectrum. A fervent improviser, she prefers the most open musical situations and regularly collaborates with photographers, visual artists and videographers.
In parallel, it was through writing music theater pieces that she began composing seriously. She started with small ensembles, and rapidly received commissions for larger works. Recent compositions include: Mr Barbe bleue a chamber opera for baroque ensemble produced by the Opéra de Reims (commission – French Ministry of Culture), Forest Gazing for birbyne and string quartet (commission – Radio France), Georg for bass clarinet, electric guitar and live electronics (premiere CCAM – Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy).
Long fascinated by the extended possibilities of live and fixed electronic music, Carol has written numerous pieces for acoustic instruments and electronics. Her exploration and use of aleatory procedures is distinctive.
In 2012, she began a cycle called The Weather Pieces that incorporates these methods. Three of these pieces will be released on MODE RECORDS: Nacarat for electric guitar and quadriphonic electronics (co-production La Muse en Circuit, Césaré, Art Zoyd), Black on Green for double bass and tri-phonic electronics (commission – GMEM), and Les si doux redoux for basset horn and mobile stereo electronics.
Carol particularly enjoys writing for dance, working with choreographers Susan Buirge, La terrasse à l’ombre de la lune, Le chasseur au lac, Dogu Déterré (all commissioned by La Fondation Royaumont), Nadège MacLeay, Le Carreau (commission – French Ministry of Culture), M-Music, Just Let it Go, Nana’s Flight, Ratatatat, Pôles, Creases, Young Ho Nam, Composé / Décomposé (commission – Radio France), Robert Swinston / Cunningham, Event, François Verret Contrecoup…
Since 2007, she has worked closely with Éliane Radigue, premiering Naldjorlak and fifteen pieces from Occam Ocean. In 2015, Radigue and Robinson began co-composing pieces for the Occam cycle: Occam Hexa II (Decibel – Perth, Australia), Occam River XXII (for bass clarinet and saxophone), Occam Hexa V (Ensemble Klang – The Hague).
Carol Robinson’s discography demonstrates the breadth of her work. In addition to her own compositions Billows (PLUSH), Laima (Expériences de Vol) and Cross-Currents (SHIIIN), there are also award winning monographic recordings of composers such as Giacinto Scelsi, Luigi Nono, Morton Feldman, Luciano Berio (MODE), Éliane Radigue (SHIIIN), Phill Niblock (TOUCH), Jürg Frey (LCMS). Her recordings of alternative rock, jazz, and classical music are equally important.