In his ongoing quest for unusual musical possibilities, composer Nicholas Chase has played mannequin limbs, walkie-talkies, record-players, transistor radios, sitting inside a piano, riding a bicycle—and more traditionally as a vocalist, a 'cellist, and as a solo pianist on the instrument keys.
"My purpose is to enlighten through music." (-NFChase, September 2017). Characterized by its border-crossing energy, Nicholas Chase's music has been hailed by Strad Magazine as 'brilliant,' the Los Angeles Times as 'flamboyant, avant-garde' and 'brawling yet taut...the Rite of Spring meets Metallica,' by the Albuquerque Journal as 'crackling, witty,' by the Whittier Press as 'seamless, powerful... spectacular' and, dubbing him 'Eye/Ear Explorer,' the LA Weekly writes of his short opera 22, 'the human brain at its most imaginative.'
Chase earned his MFA in Composition/New Media and Integrated Media from California Institute of the Arts studying with Morton Subotnick, Bunita Marcus, Stephen L. Mosko, and additionally with Ziad Bunni of the Aleppo Conservatory of Arabic Classical Music, and James Tenney. In 2011 he earned PhD candidacy in Integrated Electronic Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute working with Pauline Oliveros.
Chase has been commissioned by the Long Beach Opera, the California E.A.R. Unit, Viola Plus, Ltd. as well as Swiss bassist Cristin Wildbolz, first violin of New York's Ensemble Sospeso, Mark Menzies and internationally renown flutist Dorothy Stone to name a few. Other notables who have performed his music include New Zealand's 175 East, South West Chamber Music, and the Philadelphia Classical Symphony from whom he received a joint award from the Symphony and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts for the Andy Warhol-inspired work tw!TcH.
Visual elements play a strong role in much of Chase's work: his musical scores have been hailed as works of visual art and were featured in Shifter Magazine (2010) and Emergency Index (2012) and have been sold framed, at auction in Switzerland. His integrated audio/visual performance works have been featured with the San Francisco/Bay Area Illuminated Corridor, the Center for Electronic Art, Information and Technology (CEAIT) Festival in Los Angeles, and culminated with the premiere of NOVA: Transmissions, an interactive audio/video composition, as part of the 2008 Whitney Biennial.
Significant world premieres include Gin Blossoms and Broccoli Boutonnières for flute and sampled records at Other Minds Festival in San Francisco, New York Above Ground for ensemble performing in the street, part of the Darmstadt/New York Festival at Brooklyn’s Issue Project Room, Dumuzi: The Wild Beast headlining Stanford/CCRMA's Music from the Edge contemporary music festival, and the electronic multi-channel music-and-light ballet Ngoma Lungundu and Songs of the Thirsty Sword for piano and video that headlined two festival openings (New Music Plus+ - Janacek Academy of Music and Performing Arts, Czech Republic, Music By The Eyeful - at the Luggage Store, San Francisco).
As a performer always in pursuit of unusual musical possibilities, Chase has performed on music stand, mannequin limbs, lying inside a piano, on a bicycle—and more traditionally as a vocalist, and as a solo pianist—on the instrument keys. Chase is former frontman to the pop act Soul Parish, who topped the European Indie/Gothic club charts with their dance single Lilith featuring opera soprano over drum machines. He's since appeared performing electronics and DJ turntables as a soloist, with his own touring ensemble, and with the California E.A.R. Unit. As an improviser and visualist, Chase has worked with Russian pianist/improviser Roman Stolyar, Ben Miller, Miya Masaoka, and as NIRUSU III with renown harpist/improviser/scholar, Susan Allen, and British bassist, Rus Pearson. In fellowship at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany, he contributed bi-lingual voice-over to a series of programs on BauhausFM German radio.
As an educator, Chase has taught in residencies at the Janacek Academy of Music and Performing Arts in the Czech Republic, Bauhaus University, Weimar in Germany, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, and as a guest instructor at California Institute of the Arts. As Associate Director and Education Outreach Director for Morton Subotnick's Wizard Music Inc. Chase collaborated with the Schools of Education at Arizona State University and UCLA in the development of elementary music curricula and was instrumental in placing programs in three underserved communities across Los Angeles, as well as keystone programs in Kansas City, Newark, and New York City. Chase has also worked with various local communities has a hands-on executive to develop and underscore educational opportunities in the arts for children, teens, and adults.
Chase is founder of The UFOrchestra whose serial film/performance project Eleven Ideas (eleven.mas-lab.org) has been staged and screened in Hollywood, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Helsinki, and was featured on upstate New York WMHT Public Television. Chase is also Founding Director of the Musical Arts/Sound Laboratory (www.mas-lab.org) and Chase Ateliers, an organization committed to inter--disciplinary and experimental collaborations, which boasts affiliations with the likes of US jazz legend Yusef Lateef and Meredith Monk expat, Steve Lockwood.
As a producer Chase has worked in the recording studio with notables Tom Erbe, Bob Bellerue, Lucky Mosko, Grammy winner Jeremy Zuckerman, and produced the work of Annie Gosfield for Tzadik Records, Anne LeBaron for About Productions, California EAR Unit for Bridge Records, Mark Menzies for Mode Records, Morton Subotnick for Wizard Music, Cristin Wildbolz for STV/Unit Records Switzerland, and his own recordings released under the Chase Atelier (CAt) moniker.
In 2000 Chase was awarded the first President's Alumnus Award from California Institute of the Arts, and was nominated for the Herb Alpert Award in Music in 2003. In 2008 the German documentary Wie kann Es in Buchenwald so schoen sein? for which he wrote the soundtrack, was nominated for the German Alternativer Medienpreis. In 2011 the Eleven Ideas project received the McKinney Award in Literature and Technology from Resselaer Polytechnic Institute. Chase was also recipient of the inaugural Other Minds Composer Fellowship that year. In 2015 Chase was awarded a Certificate of Honor from the International Center for Japanese Culture in Tokyo, Japan for his koto/cello duo Gayate.
Since 2011 Chase has worked in seclusion and spiritual retreat to develop his ideas on integrating Yoga/mind-body practices and Hindustani Classical Music forms with traditional Western Conservatory musicianship. In 2014 he presented part of a theoretical discourse on his new work at an international conference at California Institute of the Arts, and with assistance from Jack Straw Productions in Seattle, recorded the first works shaped by these ideas, Bhajan, commissioned and performed by California EAR Unit alumna Robin Lorentz (violin) and released by Cold Blue Music (CB0046). As of this writing Chase is posthumously co-authoring and completing a book on the philosophy of musical co-creation Passage of Desire: Improvisation and the Human Journey, a project initiated by improviser, educator, and harpist, the late Dr. Susan Allen.