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James Beckwith Maxwell


James B. Maxwell was born in Vancouver, Canada. He studied composition in Vancouver with Owen Underhill and David MacIntyre, and in Prague with Ladislav Kubik. In 2001 he completed his MFA in Interdisciplinary Studies at Simon Fraser University. His work has been broadcast on CBC’s “West Coast Performance” and “Two New Hours”, and has been performed internationally. In the summer of 2000 he received the audience prize in Vancouver New Music’s BC Emerging Composers Competition. He has worked collaboratively in contemporary dance, theatre, and film, creating music for choreographers Claire French and Helen Walkley, for director Mallory Catlett, and for film makers Alex Williams and Alison Beda. He is also interested in wider and more diverse collaborations, working with visual artist Kathleen Ritter on Call to Order for Modern Fuel Artist Run Centre in Kingston, Ontario, with writer Caleb Johnson on the Western Front’s Intersections project, and in an upcoming collaboration with Berlin-based artists Hadley+Maxwell for the Seattle Art Museum in 2010. In 2009 he premiered limina, commissioned by flutist Mark McGregor’s duo Tiresias, and is continuing a collaboration with choreographer Claire French and film maker Allison Beda on a series of one-minute dance films. His work
diffusus, for flute choir with solo alto flute, was recorded by flutist Mark McGregor for his 2009 CD release Different Stones. Recent works for dance include Outside Out and Inside Outside In, by choreographer Claire French, both of which were composed collaboratively with Vancouver composer/performer Teresa Connors, and premiered at the Scotiabank Dance Centre. In 2010, James will be collaborating with writer Alex Ferguson on a new one-act chamber opera, based on Chekhov’s short story The Little Apples. The work will be created as a ‘companion piece’ for Maxwell’s 2001 one-act opera sleepyhead, weaving the two stories into a single evening’s performance.
In 2007, while living in the UK, he established “mr. wheet”, an electronica-inspired side-project, integrating elements of his concert music language with his musical beginnings as a kit drummer. The debut CD, “What to do when you find yourself in Brighouse”, was released in December 2008.
James is also active as a researcher and programmer in the field of computer applications for interactive music composition. He is currently a doctoral student at Simon Fraser University, where he is exploring the design and development of computer-assisted composition tools, with a focus on using intelligent, adaptive systems as compositional “collaborators.” His focus is on using cognitively-inspired designs to guide the acquisition and exploitation of musical material in interactive music composition systems.

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