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Buckner, Thomas

music leading arch univ

Buckner, Thomas, leading American baritone, composer, and producer; b. N.Y., Aug. 13, 1941. After brief studies at Yale Univ., he took both B.A. (1964) and M.A. (1965) degrees in English literature at the Univ. of Santa Clara in Calif.; also took courses in linguistics at Stanford Univ. He then devoted himself to vocal training, numbering among his mentors W.A. Mathieu, Martial Singher, Alden Gilchrist, Marion Cooper, and Raymond Beegle; also studied Indian music with Ali Akbar Kahn at the American Soc. for Eastern Arts in Berkeley, Calif. (1967–67). Buckner was active in Berkeley from 1967 to 1983, where he founded and directed the 1750 Arch Concerts (1972–80) and 1750 Arch Records (1973–83); he also was co-founder/director (with Robert Hughes) of the 23-piece Arch Ensemble, which specialized in 20th-century music. From 1989 he curated the World Music Institute’s “Interpretations” series in N.Y. While Buckner’s repertoire spans the ages, he has become a stalwart proponent of the avant-garde, appearing in first performances of works by Annea Lockwood, Henry Threadgill, Somei Satoh, Jin Hi Kim, and David Behrman, among many others; he is known particularly for his lengthy association with Robert Ashley, in whose Perfect Lives trilogy (Atalanta [Acts of God] 1982, and eL/Aficionado 1987 and Improvement [Don Leaves Linda] [1984–85] from Now Eleanor’s Idea) he created critically acclaimed leading roles. In 1995 he performed the leading role in David First’s opera Manhattan Book of the Dead . Through these and other performances, including a number of noteworthy recitals in N.Y. and frequent appearances with the improvisational group “Act of Finding,” the experimental group “Roscoe Mitchell New Chamber Ensemble,” and the pianist Joseph Kubera, Buckner has earned the critical sobriquet ”the voice of the Downtown (N.Y.) new music scene.” Among his many recordings are 2 solo compilations, Full Voice Spectrum (1992) and Sign of Our Times (1995), both featuring works written especially for him, as well as Pilgrimage (1995; with the Roscoe Mitchell New Chamber Ensemble”) and Act of Finding (1995; with Ratzo B. Harris, Bruce Arnold, and Tom Hamilton). As a composer, Buckner creates primarily structured improvisations, in both solo (Resonances, 1995) and ensemble (In Moments of Great Passion for Improvising Baritone and String Orch., after John Ralston Saul’s Voltaire’s Bastards; N.Y., Dec. 19, 1995) settings.

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