|Birth: ||Mar. 28, 1930|
|Death: ||Mar. 3, 2014|
New York County (Manhattan)
New York, USA
Composer. A pioneer of audio synthesis, he shall be remembered for a series of rather idiosyncratic operas which have little or no plot and which utilize a multiplicity of sonic techniques. Raised in Ann Arbor, he was drawn to Jazz from an early age, taught himself the piano, earned a degree in music theory from the University of Michigan, and subsequently received a graduate degree from the Manhattan School of Music. Returning to Ann Arbor, in 1958 he founded the Cooperative Studio for Electronic Music, a group which partnered with the Space Theater to provide a venue for unusual works. In 1963 he produced his first opera, "In Memorium...Kit Carson", and thru the 1960s he ran the Sonic Arts Union and the ONCE Festival to provide further opportunities for alternative composers and their pieces. During the 1970s he taught at Oakland's Mills College then in 1979 he published "Automatic Writing", a semi-successful attempt to capitalize on his own Tourette's Syndrome. In the early 1980s he relocated to Manhattan where in 1983 he completed "Perfect Lives", his best known composition described as an 'opera for television' which more-or-less deals with a bank robbery. Over the next years he produced his two other major works, "Atalanta (Acts of God)" and the tetralogy "Now Eleanor's Idea", both of which tell stories of religious experiences which defy concise explanation. Ashley continued working, producing such operas as the 1998 "Dust" and 2003's "Celestial Excursions", seeing them performed by the Florida Grand Opera and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music as well as at small venues in New York and elsewhere, and forming a partnership with Lovely Records which has preserved virtually his entire output. In 2002 he received the John Cage Award, an honor given for contemporary works; at the end of his life he finished "Mixed Blessings, Indiana" and at his death from hepatic cirrhosis his 2013 "Crash" was pending an April 10, 2014 world premiere at New York's Whitney Biennial. In mid-career he took a realistic look at his options and said: "There's no chance for me to do a piece of any scale in live performance. I'm 53 years old. If I were to wait for the Metropolitan Opera to give me a performance, I'd die first." (bio by: Bob Hufford)
Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.
Specifically: Ashes given to his wife, Mimi Johnson
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
Record added: Mar 07, 2014
Find A Grave Memorial# 125986190
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