Robert Ashley was one of the most influential and innovative figures in American contemporary music. He pioneered opera-for-television with his 1980 Perfect Lives. Prior to that, he organized the ONCE Festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan and then later the ONCE Group, a music-theatre ensemble. His last work, Crash, was completed a few months before its premiere at the 2014 Whitney Biennial. Ashley died March 3, while the work was in rehearsal. During his long and distinguished career, Ashley composed many musical works that include Now Eleanor's Idea, Dust, Celestial Excursions, Concrete, Atalanta (Acts of God), and Balseros. They have toured worldwide. He provided music for the dance companies of Merce Cunningham, Trisha Brown, Steve Paxton, and Douglas Dunn. Ashley was a recipient of the John Cage Award for Music from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts. His recorded music is available from Lovely Music, Nonesuch/Elektra, New World Records, Koch International, and Unsounds, among others. His writings appear in Outside of Time: Ideas about Music.
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