Elliot Cole (*1984) is a composer, performer, and "charismatic contemporary bard" (NY Times) whose music is performed widely around the world.
His work is particularly embraced by percussionists. His best known work is a book of bowed vibraphone quartets, Postludes, which evokes "sparkling icicles of sound" (Rolling Stone). It is rapidly becoming a new classic of percussion repertoire. Since 2012 it has been performed by over 150 ensembles, including nearly all major American music schools and top professional groups So Percussion, TorQ, and Amadinda. It has performed internationally by ensembles in Gwangju (Korea), Tallinn (Estonia), Toronto and Montreal (Canada), Cork (Ireland), Rome, Latina and Montalto (Italy), Belo Horizonte (Brasil), Lugo (Spain), Bangkok (Thailand), Budapest (Hungary), Vilnius (Lithuania), Pau (France), Ljubljana (Croatia), and Krakow (Poland).
Singing is central to Cole’s musical life. As a choral singer, he trained with Gabriel Crouch in the Princeton Chamber Choir, focusing on the music of the English Renaissance. He has also been a member of a Georgian choir, and a mensural notation study group devoted to singing 15th century music from facsimile. Roots in song and story imbue his music: many efforts in songwriting and hip hop led to a personal musical storytelling style inspired by traditional epic song, his chief work of which is Hanuman's Leap, a bardic epic for voices and drums. He has performed it in 15 cities, including two sold-out shows at the Park Avenue Armory in New York. He will record it with Grammy-winning vocal group Roomful of Teeth in 2017.
As a member of the nearly 10-year old collaboration called Oracle Hysterical, Cole has co-written over a dozen major works. Part band, part book club, OH turn great literature into musical events, weaving bardic storytelling and baroque pop with the avant-garde. The group has created hip-operas, art-rock song cycles, rap cantatas, and other genre-bending works for ensembles including A Far Cry (The Sea), Metropolis Ensemble (The Rake and Cleopatra), Chicago Composers Orchestra (Hecuba), New Vintage Baroque (Passionate Pilgrim and Grimms’ Fairy Tales) and the Lucerne Festival Academy (Billy Budd), as well as producing a concert of Stockhausen interventions, tours of living rooms in Texas, and three hip hop albums: Oracle Hysterical, The Rake’s Progress, and De Rerum.
Cole is also in demand as a teacher. He is currently a part-time faculty member at three of New York City’s premiere institutions: Mannes College, where he teaches music technology and composition courses; Manhattan School of Music Contemporary Performance Program, where he teaches graduate-level 20th century music history; and Juilliard Evening Division, where he will teach a course on performing with technology. A computer programmer from a young age, he now teaches the SuperCollider music language, as well as production and performance tool Ableton Live. He composes in a dialog between improvisation, notation and code.
He is also committed to music education outside academia. He is a founding member of Musicambia, a non-profit organization that teaches music in prisons, inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema. In 2016 he was named Program Director at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, where he designs curriculum, manages a staff of teachers, and leads sessions for a small conservatory-style program.
He is a graduate of Rice University and is a doctoral candidate at Princeton, where he studied with Paul Lanksy, Dmitri Tymoczko, Dan Trueman and Steve Mackey. He lives in Jersey City with his wife Katelyn.