Rand Steiger's music has been commissioned and performed by many ensembles, including the American Composers Orchestra, Boston Musica Viva, Ensemble Intercontemporain, International Contemporary Ensemble, Lontano, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, NYNME, Prism Quartet, San Diego Symphony, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Talea Ensemble, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he served as Composer Fellow. Soloists he has composed for include Matthew Barley, Maya Beiser, Claire Chase, Daniel Druckman, Peter Evans, Alan Feinberg, George Lewis, Susan Narucki, Vicki Ray, and Steven Schick.
Throughout his career, Steiger has been involved in computer music research, having held three residencies at IRCAM, and enjoying a long fruitful collaboration with Miller Puckette, the leading computer music researcher of his generation. He was Composer-in-Residence at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology from 2010 to 2013.
Many of Steiger's works combine orchestral instruments with real-time digital audio signal processing. They also propose a hybrid approach to just and equal-tempered tuning, exploring the delicate perceptual cusp between a harmony and a timbre that occurs when tones are precisely tuned. Some examples of works deploying these techniques include: Ecosphere, developed during residencies at Ircam and premiered by the Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris; Traversing, written for cellist Mathew Barley and premiered by the Southbank Sinfonia in London; Cryosphere, premiered by the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, A Menacing Plume, premiered by the Talea Ensemble in New York, and the Coalescence Cycle, premiered on a portrait concert at Miller Theater in New York by the International Contemporary Ensemble in 2013.
Steiger was also active as a conductor specializing in contemporary works until deciding in 2010 to concentrate entirely on composition. He lead a series of critically acclaimed concerts with the Ensemble Sospeso in New York City in the early 2000's, and with the California EAR Unit at the Los Angeles County Museum in the 1980's and 90's. Among other groups he conducted were the Arditti Quartet, Aspen Chamber Ensemble, La Jolla Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, New York New Music Ensemble, and the Nouvel Ensemble Contemporain (Switzerland). Among his recordings as conductor are operas by Anne LeBaron, Hilda Paredes and Anthony Davis, and chamber works by Elliott Carter, George Lewis, Mark Osborn, Roger Reynolds, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Morton Subotnick, Iannis Xenakis and Wadada Leo Smith. He has also conducted many world, New York and California premier performances, including works of Muhal Richard Abrams, Louis Andriessen, Milton Babbitt, Pierre Boulez, Henry Brant, Elliott Carter, Brian Ferneyhough, Michael Gordon, Jonathan Harvey, Aaron Kernis, Scott Lindroth, James Newton, Luigi Nono, Augusta Read-Thomas, Roger Reynolds, Terry Riley, Poul Rudders, Frederick Rzewski, Kaija Saariaho, Giacinto Scelsi, Elliott Sharp, Julia Wolfe, Toru Takemitsu, Jon Tavener, and Erki-Sven Tuur.
His compositions and performances are recorded on the Centaur, CRI, Crystal, Einstein, Koch, Mode, New Albion, New Dynamic, New World, Nonesuch, and Tzadik labels. Recent works for instruments and electronics are available on Ecosphere a portrait CD/DVD on EMF, and A Menacing Plume, a portrait CD on New World Records.
After serving on the Faculty of California Institute of the Arts from 1982 through 1987, Steiger joined the Music Department at U.C. San Diego, where he currently serves as Department Chair. In 2009 he was a Visiting Professor at Harvard University.
Photo by Erik Jepsen