The founding members of Vir2Ual Cage are enthusiastic musicians, artists, scholars, educators, and experts on John Cage’s Song Books. Individually or in groups, they have extensive experience performing and researching Cage’s compositions, teaching college courses on Song Books, conducting workshops and master classes on the work, designing audio and video processing for its pieces that call for electronics, and facilitating renditions of it ranging in length from one minute to four hours. From its inception, the Vir2Ual Cage project was a collaborative enterprise that involved many participants. Biographies of the original team members are on the right.
Jacqueline Bobak is a singer and educator committed to creating, interpreting, and teaching adventurous music made with and for the voice. She has performed extensively throughout the US and Europe, conducted research in experimental music and art, collaborated with numerous composers, and taught since 1991 at the California Institute of the Arts, where she currently serves as Co-Coordinator of the VoiceArts program. For over two decades she has been an active and critically acclaimed performer in the Los Angeles area, where she has appeared on the LA Philharmonic Green Umbrella series, Monday Evening Concerts at the LA County Museum of Art, at REDCAT, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Getty Center, MicroFest, and Downtown Opera of Long Beach. In Europe she has appeared on the Audio Art Festival in Kraków; the Academy of Musical Arts and The Roxy in Prague; the Moravian Autumn Festival, Musica Nova Exposition, and New Music + series in Brno (Czech Republic); the York Spring Music Festival (UK); and at Spīķeri and Wagner Halls in Rīga. She has appeared as a soloist or ensemble member with the Penderecki Quartet, California E.A.R. Unit, Electric Phoenix, Xtet, and CalArts New Century Players; in numerous duo concerts with Czech percussionist Dan Dlouhý; and has premiered works by Wadada Leo Smith, Chinary Ung, Frederic Rzewski, William Brooks, Ivo Medek, Mark Bobak, and many others. Currently she is composing and producing her new large-scale project, Dada Divas, centered on important female artists who were among the originators of Dada.
Mark Bobak is a composer, sound designer, and educator. From an initial path as a jazz pianist he gravitated toward experimental music and computer-assisted composition, drawing on both improvisation and calculation in a variety of works for voices, electronic media, and chamber ensembles. His interests include poetry and language, data sonification, and creative improvised music. He has collaborated with numerous artists, designed processing algorithms and performance interfaces, worked as an audio engineer, and was the principal software developer and webmaster behind Vir2Ual Cage. His music and programming have been presented throughout North America and Europe, including at REDCAT in Los Angeles, the University of York (UK), the Academy of Musical Arts in Prague, the New Music Exposition and Musica Nova festivals in Brno (Czech Republic), the Audio Art festival in Kraków (Poland), the festivals Vértice and Espejos Sonoros in Mexico City, and Spīķeri Hall in Rīga (Latvia). He has taught at the California Institute of the Arts, the California State Universities at Northridge and Long Beach, Scripps College, and the University of Illinois, where he earned his DMA degree in composition.
William Brooks is a composer, performer, conductor, musicologist, and educator. He has received composition commissions from the Gulbenkian Foundation, British Arts Council, Kronos Quartet, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, and other organizations, and has been awarded an NEA Composers Fellowship and numerous ASCAP awards. He has distinguished himself as a composer, tenor, and conductor of vocal and instrumental ensembles throughout the United States and Great Britain, including Electric Phoenix and the London Sinfonietta. He has published numerous chapters, articles, and books on subjects including John Cage, Charles Ives, American musical theater, vocal music, popular music, and musical instruments. He currently is Professor of Music at the University of York (UK) and also Associate Professor Emeritus of Composition and Theory at the University of Illinois. He has been a Fulbright-Hays Senior Professor of American Music at the University of Keele (UK), Smithsonian Institution Fellow, Christian A. Johnson Distinguished Professor of Music at Middlebury College, and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Studies in American Music at Brooklyn College. Recently he has also been appointed Senior Research Fellow at the Orpheus Institute in Ghent, Belgium, where he wrote the volume MetaCage: Essays On and Around Freeman Etudes / Fontana Mix / Aria.
Paul Berkolds is a bass baritone with extensive performing experience and a diverse repertoire ranging from Bach to Andrew Lloyd Webber to Harry Partch, and most everything in between. In over three decades, he has performed opera, musical theater, oratorio, solo recital and new music in the US, Canada, Mexico, Germany, France, England, Taiwan, the Baltic States, and Australia. Recent collaborations have included premieres or major performances of works by Ben Johnston, Harry Partch, Iannis Xenakis, Anne LeBaron, David Diamond, William Brooks, and Frank Denyer. He has appeared with operas companies in Houston, Dayton, Salt Lake City, Honolulu, Detroit, Orlando, Washington DC, and New York, and spent three years on the Third National Tour Phantom of the Opera. Recent Los Angeles-area performances have been on the Green Umbrella and MicroFest Series, Monday Evening Concerts, Jacaranda Concerts, as well as with Other Minds in San Francisco. Berkolds studied at the University of Washington and the University of Southern California, where he earned his DMA degree. He teaches at the California Institute of the Arts, where he is Co-Coordinator of the VoiceArts program. His voice can be heard on the Grammy award-winning CD of Harry Partch’s Plectra and Percussion Dances, which was selected as Best Classical Compendium in 2015.
Michelle Lach is an internationally shown visual artist who blends traditional and contemporary art forms to create work that questions the definitions of being, and of art itself. Her work has been exhibited in Sala de Exposiciones CAM, Alicante, Spain; Centro de Cultura Contemporanea, Barcelona, Spain; Triennale di Milano, Milan, Italy; Circulo de Belles Artres, Madrid, Spain; Prix Arts Electronica, Linz, Austria; Visual Arts Museum, New York; and at SIGGRAPH. She holds a BA from Wright State University and an MFA from The Ohio State University, and was an associate professor at the Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio, where she taught computer animation and installation. After over a decade in academia, she embarked on a new career path as an estate supervisor, managing privately owned homes in East Hampton, New York. Currently she is co-creating an online game that seeks to examine such questions of cultural importance as Do you stand out in the data? And can we use the tools of big-data collection to design projects and reflect back on the powerful?
Members of this team performed various renditions of Song Books at the
Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (2012)
Spīķeru Konzertzāles in Rīga (2012)
Baltais Flīģelis (The White Piano) in Sigulda, Latvia (2012)
California Institute of the Arts in Valencia CA (2012)
Janáček Academy of Music in Brno, Czech Republic (2010, 2007)
Palacký University in Olomouc, Czech Republic (2010, 2007)
Audio Art festival at the Academy of Musical Arts in Kraków, Poland (2010)
Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation Benefit at REDCAT in Los Angeles (2010)
Party for Betty Freeman concert at REDCAT in Los Angeles (2010)
Design Studios of the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus OH (2009)
Orpheus Institute in Ghent, Belgium (2009)
Highways performance space in Santa Monica CA (2008)
Dangerous Curve gallery in Los Angeles (2007)
Dům Umění (House of Arts) in Opava, Czech Republic (2007)
Sainer Pavilion at The New College, Sarasota FL (2007)