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Isaac Schankler

Los Angeles, CA      

Isaac Schankler is a composer, pianist, accordionist, and electronic musician living in Los Angeles. Lauded as “extraordinarily eclectic” and “masterfully composed” (Boston Musical Intelligencer), his music is inspired by interactive technologies, improvisation, indeterminacy, spoken language, narrative, and puzzles. He has won awards and grants from Meet the Composer, the National Opera Association, the American Composers Forum, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and the American Prize. He has been commissioned by ensembles and organizations including the Friction Quartet, Gnarwhallaby, the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, Lorelei Ensemble, Juventas New Music Ensemble, and bass-baritone Nicholas Isherwood.


As a frequent collaborator with artists in other media, Schankler has worked with acclaimed video game designers Christine Love (Analogue: A Hate Story), Zoe Quinn and Patrick Lindsey (Depression Quest), and Mitu Khandaker (Redshirt); poets Amaranth Borsuk (The Familiar Spirit) and Jillian Burcar (Light and Power); and video artists Christopher O’Leary (Blocking the Exits) and Quintan Ana Wikswo (Sonderbauten).


As a performer and researcher, he is an advocate for musical improvisation between humans and machines, working extensively with MIMI (Multimodal Interaction for Musical Improvisation), a software system for human-computer improvisation designed by Alexandre François. He has presented and performed with MIMI at events including New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) at the University of Michigan, Mathematics and Computation in Music (MCM) at the Institute de Recherché Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) in Paris, and the International Symposium on Computer Music Multidisciplinary Research (CMMR) in London.


Schankler is the artistic director of People Inside Electronics, a concert series devoted to the performance of live electroacoustic music in Los Angeles. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition from the University of Southern California, as well as Master of Music and Bachelor of Music degrees in composition from the University of Michigan. He teaches music technology at the University of Southern California and music theory at Chapman University.

Articles by Isaac Schankler:

Articles July 27 2016 | By Isaac Schankler
The Generalization Generation

When we elevate a certain kind of craft and its formal concerns above all else, this kind of gatekeeping doesn’t just hurt young composers, it also shuts out other potential voices, marginalized...

Headlines June 25 2015 | By Isaac Schankler
Compromise and Conviction at the National Composers Intensive

The National Composers Intensive, organized by the LA Philharmonic, invited ten collegiate composers to write for wild Up. While readings of student works are not uncommon in the new music...

Articles August 26 2014 | By Isaac Schankler
Dying From Exposure

What is not problematic on an individual level can become catastrophic on a larger level, and I worry that we are rapidly ruling out pretty much every scenario that would...

Headlines July 24 2014 | By Isaac Schankler
Loudness Isn’t What It Used to Be: Southland Ensemble and Robert Ashley

The ensemble chose to perform their selection of Ashley’s works continuously without a break, sometimes even simultaneously. Boundaries were blurred—not just between the pieces themselves, but also between music and...

Articles July 2 2014 | By Isaac Schankler
Music Criticism is Broken and It’s All Your Fault

Whether you’re a composer or a musician or an enthusiast, I know you’re probably pressed for time, but chances are your perspective is not being represented. If you don’t share...

Listen May 6 2014 | By Isaac Schankler
Games Played: FRACT OSC

Described as a “musical exploration game inspired by synthesizers,” FRACT OSC places you in an abstract neon landscape somewhere between Myst and Tron, and the environment is peppered with various...

Headlines April 16 2014 | By Isaac Schankler
LA: A Spring 2014 Concertgoer’s Journal, Part 1

In March and April in Los Angeles, the concert calendar becomes impossibly saturated. These are just a few highlights from Maximum Minimalism, WasteLAnd, plus recent What’s Next Ensemble and Timur...

Headlines March 17 2014 | By Isaac Schankler
Vicki Ray Reflects on 20 Years of Piano Spheres

The Piano Spheres concert series, a Los Angeles institution dedicated to expanding the repertoire for the instrument, was a risky proposition at first. But the LA new music community has...

Listen January 14 2014 | By Isaac Schankler
Sounds Heard: Some American Albums

In the wake of the many “Best of 2013” lists floating around, I wanted to highlight some recent album releases worthy of your time and attention. I didn’t select them...