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Dubbed a “piano goddess” by Arts Houston, Eleonor Sandresky’s music is heard around the world, including Cannes Film Festival (2004) and Venice Biennale (2013). She has received grants and commissions from Rite of Summer, LMCC, NYS Council on the Arts, Jerome Foundation, ASCAP, American Music Center, New Music USA, and Meet the Composer. Eleonor has been a composer-in-residence at Yaddo, STEIM, and MacDowell Colony. Recent works include Wunderkammern Live! for strings, percussion, woodwinds and film, (2017) premiered on Tribeca New Music, Donne Songs Without Words, for choreographed-viols and harp,  commissioned by Parthenia (2015), and Opening for guitar ensemble, commissioned by The NY Guitar Society (2016). 

Working at the forefront of avant-garde concert-as-theater, Eleonor reinvented herself as the Choreographic Pianist with her groundbreaking composition, A Sleeper’s Notebook (1999-2003). In these works, she explores her deep interest in how motion translates to emotion through sound. She is also the inventor of The Wonder Suit, a remote set of wireless-sensors worn and used to trigger sonic events during live performance. These events range from discreet processes to surface manipulations of the pitchs and build on the concepts and ideas in her choreographed works, of which this new work was born. She has created large-scale works for the Suit, most recently, A Space Odyssey (2016), and performs live improvisations with it, available for purchase on Bandcamp. As music director, she works in a variety of theatrical settings, from theater/dance performances with Susan Marshall to conducting live-to-film with the Philip Glass Ensemble, member since 1991. Eleonor is also the associate producer of concert film and orchestra projects for The Leonard Bernstein Office since 2009. Her music is available on Sony Classics, Koch International, ERM Media, and Albany Records.  To listen and watch, please visit www.esandresky.com.

photo by Robin Holland

Dubbed a “piano goddess” by Arts Houston, Eleonor Sandresky has been a force in the New York music scene since moving to New York in the mid-eighties. In 1991 she joined The Philip Glass Ensemble with whom she still performs. Her work as a producer began accidentally when she co-founded the MATA Festival in 1996, advocating for fellow young composers through commissions and premiers of their works. The festival celebrated its 20th season in 2018. Since 2009 she has worked with The Leonard Bernstein Office as producer of their film and live orchestra projects. Her most innovative work has come through her compositions which are distinctly personal, many of which transcend genre, incorporating technology, improvisation and physical movement into her work in an intricately woven tapestry of music, sound and a physicality unparalleled in classical contemporary composition or performance. She has won grants from Meet The Composer, ASCAP, American Music Center, NYSCA, Jerome Foundation, and most recently, she, along with other composers, was awarded a grant in collaboration with Leonardo Heiblum by FONCA (fondo nacional para la cultura y las artes) which is The National Fund for the Culture and the Arts in Mexico.

Incorporating movement into her compositions was a logical extension of her love of dance since childhood. Eleonor increasingly became fascinated by the way the movement seemed to almost generate the music, a kind of symbiotic relationship. These experiences led her to conceive the groundbreaking work combining dance and piano performance in her choreographed piano work, resulting in her self-titling: “the choreographic pianist.” In the choreographic works, she explores her deep interest in how motion translates to emotion through sound, mining her experience as a performer for her compositions that now include work for the ensembles Parthenia (2012-15) Donne Songs Without Words, commissioned with a grant from NYSCA, and The Knights (2014).

Among her recent commissions is Romance for Lenny, a solo piano piece commissioned on the occassion of Bernstein’s 100th birthday by Lara Downes and released on Sony Classics. Eleonor has also embarked on a project for solo piano called Strange Energies, etudes that explore vibration and the behavior of sound in space, asking the audience to notice how sound behaves under certain circumstances. She has been composing and performing this work over several years as it continues to evolve. Currently there are nine pieces in this set with a recording set to come out on Supertrain Records in 2020. Other works can be heard on Albany Records, One Soul, and Naxos.

Resulting from a desire for her movements to initiate sound in some way, she was awarded a residency at STEIM in Amsterdam, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council awarded Eleonor a Swing Space residency in 2009, where she began working with Michael Clemow on the design of the Wonder Suit, a collection of wireless sensors that she straps onto her body and piano bench to allow her to initiate and control various electronic parameters in her pieces with live electronics. The Wonder Suit was premiered in 2012 with her choreographed piano piece, The Mary Oliver Songs: Book 1: The Return at I-Beam in Brooklyn, NY, and has been performed in Mexico City, Morelia and New York City since its premier. Other works for the Suit include Space Odyssey, premiered at Gallery MC, NYC, as well as structured improvisational works for choreographic pianist and Wonder Suit that are inspired by poetry. The Brooklyn Sessions were released as a digital download on Bandcamp in 2016. She also toured the show in Mexico to sold-out crowds in 2015 and again at the Center for New Music in San Francisco in 2017. Recordings of selections from those concerts will be released soon!

Designated a Critic’s pick by TimeOut NY 2013-15, Eleonor created and curated a concert series, Rétes (RAY-tesh), where she collaborated with a different composer/performer for each concert. Her collaborators covered a broad spectrum of musical styles and included Kamala Sankaram (Thumbprint Opera), Pat Irwin (Raybeats/B52s), Randy Gibson, (The Four Pillars) and Du Yun (Angel’s Bone).

In the last few years, Eleonor has also been a featured composer/performer at London’s Cafe Oto, Morelia Center for Electronic Music in Mexico, San Francisco Center for New Music, USC Fullerton New Music Festival and has produced film and live orchestra shows throughout the world, from Beijing Music Festival to Tanglewood in 2018.

Eleonor completed her first film score in 2014, a 92 minute through-composed work for chamber ensemble, in collaboration with the filmmaker, Erika Suderburg, entitled, Wunderkammern: The Secret Life of Objects. While in residence at Yaddo, she reimagined it, reorchestrating and producing it as a live film concert which premiered in Spring 2017 on Tribeca New Music concert series in NYC at DiMenna Center and will begin touring in 2020.

May 30, 2019

photo by Robin Holland