William Winant

William Winant
2017 Guest Artist

William Winant is an avant-garde percussionist who has performed and collaborated with musicians musical acts as diverse as Sonic Youth, Mr. Bungle, John Zorn, and Oingo Boingo. He has studied with James Tenney, Steve Reich, and John Bergamo, played music with The Kronos String Quartet, Anthony Braxton, Cecil Taylor, Roscoe Mitchell, Keith Jarrett, and Yo-Yo Ma, and has recorded music with Christian Wolff and Danny Elfman.

Winant received a B.F.A. from York University in 1978 and an M.F.A. from Mills College in 1982. From 1984-1992, he was Mills’ Artist-in-Residence with the Abel-Steinberg-Winant Trio, which has premiered more than twenty-five new works for violin, piano, and percussion at prominent festivals and recitals worldwide. Winant is a visiting Lecturer in Music at the University of California Santa Cruz and Mills College.

In 2016, Winant was awarded a large unrestricted grant from the Foundation of Contemporary Arts in recognition for his groundbreaking work as a contemporary percussionist. In 2014 he received a Grammy nomination for his recording of John Cage’s historic solo work, 27′ 10.554″ for a percussionist, on Micro Fest Records.

He has collaborated with some of the most innovative and creative musicians of our time, including John Cage, Iannis Xenakis, Pierre Boulez, Frank Zappa, Keith Jarrett, Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, Fred Frith, James Tenney, Terry Riley, Cecil Taylor, Gerry Hemingway, Mark Dresser, Barry Guy, Marilyn Crispell, George Lewis, Steve Reich and Musicians, Nexus, Charles Wuorinen, Jean-Philippe Collard, Frederic Rzewski, Ursula Oppens, Joan LaBarbara, Annea Lockwood, Danny Elfman/Oingo Boingo, Sonic Youth, Marc Ribot, Keith Rowe, Joey Barron, Bill Frisell, Yo-Yo Ma, Rova Saxophone Quartet, Lawrence “Butch” Morris, and the Kronos String Quartet.

He has recorded and toured worldwide with his own groups including ROOM, w/Chris Brown and Larry Ochs, CHALLENGE, w/Anthony Braxton and David Rosenboom, WAKE, w/Frank Gratkowski and Chris Brown, the ABEL/STEINBERG/WINANT TRIO, and the WILLIAM WINANT PERCUSSION GROUP.

He is principal percussionist with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, he has been closely associated with NYC composer John Zorn, and has made numerous recordings, and performed in many projects throughout the world with the composer. Starting in 1995 he has been the percussionist with the avant-rock band Mr. Bungle, has made two recordings (“Disco Volante” and “California” on Warner Brothers), and has toured throughout the world with this group. For many years he had worked with composer Lou Harrison, recording and premiering many of his works, and in March of 1997 he participated in the world premiere of Lou Harrison’s quintet “Rhymes with Silver” featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Mark Morris Dance Group, and has toured the piece throughout the United States and Great Britain.

In the fall of 2011, he joined Mike Patton’s Italian pop music project “Mondo Cane” which features a 12 piece band + string orchestra, and have recently completed tours of South America and Australia.

In the fall of 2003, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Mr. Winant, along with composers Takehisa Kosugi and Christian Wolff, created music for a series of eight special “Events” staged by Merce Cunningham and Dancers at London’s Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern. Winant continued to tour throughout Europe and the United States with the dance company until 2009.

He has made over 200 recordings, covering a wide variety of genres, including music by Earle Brown, John Cage, Morton Feldman, Christian Wolff, John Zorn, Butch Morris, James Newton, Frank Gratkowski, Pauline Oliveros, Luc Ferrari, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Danny Elfman (“Batman Returns”), Siouxse and the Banshees, Secret Chiefs 3, ICP, Han Bennik, The Ex, White Out with Jim O’Rourke, Lou Reed, Thurston Moore, and Mike Patton.

His recording of Lou Harrison’s “La Koro Sutro” (which he produced for New Albion Records) was the New York Times Critic’s Choice for best contemporary recording of 1988. In 1999 he produced a recording of music by 20th-century avant-garde composers with the influential rock band Sonic Youth; “Goodbye 20th-Century” (SYR4), was hailed by both The Los Angeles Times and New York’s Village Voice as one of the best compendiums of this type of music ever recorded. His recording with cellist Joan Jeanrenaud of her CD “Strange Toys” was nominated for a Grammy in 2009. Also he along with guitarists Henry Kaiser and David Lindley, created special music for Werner Herzog’s 2009 Oscar nominated documentary “Encounters at the End of the World”. His latest recording with Roscoe Mitchell combining three trios and recorded over 3 days at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, is due out on the ECM label in 2017.

Mr. Winant has premiered many new works written specifically for him, by such noted composers as John Cage, Christian Wolff, Lou Harrison, John Zorn, Zeena Parkins, Bun-Ching Lam, Barbara Monk Feldman, Hi-Kyung Kim, Roscoe Mitchell, Wendy Reid, Ralph Shapey, Peter Garland, Michael Byron, Paul Dresher, Alvin Curran, Frederic Rzewski, Chris Brown, David Rosenboom, Larry Polansky, Gordon Mumma, Alvin Lucier, Terry Riley, Fred Frith, Somei Satoh, and Wadada Leo Smith.