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Nick Norton

Santa Barbara, CA         

Nick Norton is a composer, guitarist, writer, and all around go-to guy for music from Southern California. He was born roughly 13.6 billion years after the universe and at least a few hundred thousand after vertebrates evolved a system to interpret vibrating air as sound.

Nick, like many others, discovered that he got a seriously life-affirming kick out of certain arrangements of sound, so started making some of his own at an early age by playing saxophone and guitar. He studied composition (the art and craft of writing directions for making air vibrate) in college at UC San Diego, then at L’ecole Normale de Musique de Paris, then in graduate school at King’s College, London and UC Santa Barbara – and in a whole bunch of garages, studios, apartments, backyards, beaches, mountains, bars, libraries, clubs, restaurants, and deserts.

He’s been really lucky, because he’s had great teachers along the way, including Clarence Barlow, Joel Feigin, Lei Liang, Robert Keeley, Rand Steiger, Chinary Ung, Harvey Sollberger, and Michel Merlet. He’s been relatively successful so far too. Nick has received awards and commissions from Now Hear Ensemble, L’ensemble Portmantô (who also gave him a lifetime appointment as composer-in-residence), the American Composers Forum, ASCAP, Meet the Composer, Worldwide Guitar Connections, WomenSing, the London Contemporary Chamber Orchestra, the Dartington International Summer Festival, UC San Diego, and others. His music has been performed by What’s Next? Ensemble, the Kansas City Chorale, Now Hear Ensemble, L’ensemble Portmantô, WomenSing, The London Contemporary Chamber Orchestra, EXAUDI, The Stranded Ensemble, Ensemble Progress, New Music Hartford, Lontano, The New York Miniaturist Ensemble, Harvey Sollberger, Ensemble Multiphon, Xelm Ya, William Fried, the UCSD Guitar Ensemble, and many more. New Music Box referred to his pieces as “visceral sonic haiku” after a show in New York and he really liked that description.

Nick’s first CD, a recording of his first string quartet, entitled London, was released in 2009. Recent releases include a piece on Now Hear Ensemble’s Made in California album (Ghost Pepper Eyes), a realization of a piece for an infinite number of guitars played through an infinite number of speakers for an infinite amount of time (At Glass Beach), and an album and singles with his band, Better Looking People With Superior Ideas.

Nick runs the blog NewClassic.LA, which covers new music in Los Angeles. He began writing by interviewing bands for AMP Magazine in college. He is a vice president of Music to Heal and director of 88 Note Concerts. He has a Chewbacca bobble head on his desk and wishes he had a Han Solo to go with it, drives stick, likes the ocean, space, spicy food, hoppy beer, and dark chocolate, and absolutely loves Oxford commas.

Pretty much anything else you might want to know is available somewhere on his website,, or by calling Nick directly at (805) 341 – 1029. Please keep in mind that California is on Pacific Time, and that people are sometimes less friendly before they have had they have had their coffee in the morning.

Articles by Nick Norton:

Articles December 2 2014 | By Nick Norton
Why I Make Music

When Nick Norton tells people he's a composer, the conversation usually turns to the music itself. The one question that no one ever seems to ask, however, is “why?”

Articles November 20 2014 | By Nick Norton
The Art of Doubting Myself

If I write music that both satisfies and excites me, and is music that I want to hear, and I’m being honest about all of that, then I’m good. Anything...

Articles November 13 2014 | By Nick Norton
Listen To Music, Dammit!

Listening to and trying to understand as much music as possible, even music that you don’t enjoy, is an incredibly important part of becoming a better and better musician. Knowing,...

Articles November 6 2014 | By Nick Norton
There Is No Right Experience

Who is to say that my interpretation is best, or that a best interpretation even exists? And why should we limit ourselves, as composers, performers, or listeners, to just one...