Charles Benjamin Amirkhanian (born January 19, 1945; Fresno, California) is an American composer. He is a percussionist, sound poet, and radio producer of Armenian origin. He is mostly known for his electroacoustic and text-sound music. Performance artist Laurie Anderson praises his work: "The art of audio collage has been reinvented here... A brilliant sense of imaginary space."
Amirkhanian received his M.F.A. from Mills College in 1980, where he studied electronic music and techniques of sound recording. He was Music Director of Pacifica Radio's KPFA-FM in Berkeley, California from 1969 to 1992, and he was a lecturer at the University of San Francisco from 1977 to 1980. He co-directed the Telluride Institute's Composer to Composer festival in Telluride, Colorado between 1988 and 1991. Amirkhanian is the executive director and artistic director of the Other Minds Music Festival in San Francisco, which he co-founded with Jim Newman in 1992. He has played a key role in recording and championing the work of Conlon Nancarrow and George Antheil, among others.
In 1984, the American Music Center awarded him its Letter of Distinction for service to American composers through his work at KPFA FM in Berkeley, California. This was followed in 2005 by another for his co-founding and directing the Other Minds Festival in San Francisco, California. From ASCAP in 1989 he received the Deems Taylor Award, also for service to American composers. Amirkhanian received a 1997 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award. In 2009, Chamber Music America and ASCAP honored him for his Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music with Other Minds.
- 10+2: 12 American Text-Sound Pieces (1975). 1750 Arch Records S-1752 (LP) reissued in 2003 on Other Minds/CD 1006-2 compilation which includes Amirkhanian's 'Just (1972)' and 'Heavy Aspirations (1973)
- Lexical Music (1979). 1750 Arch Records S-1779 (LP)
- Polipoetry Issues Numero 3: American Sound Poetry (1983). 3Vitre – EM 00383 (limited edition 7" LP) Compilation containing Amirkhanian's 'The Putts'
- Mental Radio: Nine Text-Sound Compositions (1985). CRI-SD 523 (LP); reissued in 2009 on New World Records NWCRL 523 (CD)
- Perspectives of New Music PNM 26 (1988). Compilation CD accompanying Volume 26 issue of Perspectives of New Music magazine. Contains: Pas de Voix (Portrait of Samuel Beckett)
- Walking Tune (1998). Starkland ST-206. "One of the Year's 20 Best CDs," according to the Electronic Music Foundation.
- Charles Amirkhanian: Loudspeakers (2019). New World Records 80817 (2cd set). "What links all these pieces is a creative ambiguity of genre, a delight in shifting back and forth between elements whose sources can be recognized and those whose can’t." - Kyle Gann
Partial list of works
Tape works unless otherwise noted; † indicates optional live voice(s).
- Symphony I (for 13 players, 1965)
- Words (1969)
- Oratora Konkurso Rezulto: Autoro de la Jaro (Portrait of Lou Harrison, 1970)
- If In Is (1971)
- Radii (1970/2)
- Dzarin Bess Ga Khorim (1972)
- Just (1972)
- Heavy Aspirations (1973)
- Seatbelt Seatbelt (1973)
- Roussier (not Rouffier) (1973)
- Mugic (1973)
- she and she (1974)
- Muchrooms (1974)
- Mahogany Ballpark (1976)
- Dutiful Ducks (1977) †
- Dreams Freud Dreamed (1979)
- Egusquiza to Falsetto (chamber ensemble with tape, with Margaret Fisher, 1979)
- Church Car (1980) †
- Nite Traps (1981)
- Dot Bunch (1981)
- Hypothetical Moments (In the Intellectual Life of Southern California, 1981)
- Maroa (1981) †
- Too True (1982) †
- Dog of Stravinsky (1982)
- Andas (1982)†
- The Real Perpetuum Mobile (1984)
- Gold and Spirit (1984)
- Metropolis San Francisco (1985-6)
- Dumbek Bookache (1986) †
- Walking Tune (A Room-Music for Percy Grainger, 1986-7)
- His Anxious Hours (chamber ensemble with tape, 1987)
- Pas de Voix (Portrait of Samuel Beckett, 1987)
- Politics As Usual (1988)
- Never Say Die (1989)
- Im Frühling (1990)
- Vers Les Anges (for Nicolas Slonimsky, 1990)
- Bajanoom (1990)
- Loudspeakers (for Morton Feldman, 1990)
- A Berkelium Canon (1991, with Henry Kaiser)
- Chu Lu Lu (1992)
- Ka Himeni Hehena (The Raving Mad Hymn, 1997) †
- Miatsoom (1994-7)
- Son of Metropolis San Francisco (1997)
- Marathon (1997) †
- Octet for Ratchets (amplified percussion ensemble, 1998)
- Pianola (Pas de mains, 1997-2000)
- Mqsical Lou (2003)
- Rippling the Lamp (violin and tape, 2006-7)
- Quince Quinoa (2007) †
- Listing for Starkland CD
- Randel, Don Michael (2003). The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music. Harvard University Press. p. 17.
- [Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Oxford University Press, 2004)]
- "American Music Center Awards" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-06. Retrieved 2011-10-26.
- ASCAP Award 2009
- Golden, Barbara. “Conversation with Charles Amirkhanian.” eContact! 12.2 — Interviews (2) (April 2010). Montréal: CEC.
- Other Minds: Amirkhanian
- American Maverick: An interview with Charles Amirkhanian by Alan Baker, Minnesota Public Radio, June 2002.
- CDeMUSIC: Charles Amirkhanian
- Walking Tune CD on Starkland
- compilation CD