Magical Flight

Joe Catalano

Joe was born in Elmira, NY on November 29, 1952. He attended St. Joseph's Collegiate High School in Buffalo, N.Y., received a B.A. in Music at the University of Buffalo, and received his Masters Degree in Musicology at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. He and his wife Wendy were married on July 2, 1988 in San Francisco, CA.

As a composer and performer, Joe was primarily concerned with drawing the listener's attention to long time structures, forms occurring in the natural world, and the archaeological record. He wrote music for the concert hall, theater, film, and gallery spaces, using various instruments including keyboard, electronic drones and harmonics, piano and harpsichord, harmonic singing, the didjeridoo, and an instrument he invented, The Spirit Stick, as well as many others. He was also a member of the Didjeridoo Ensemble, and the Strawberry Creek String Band, where he played guitar and didjeridoo.

His most recent theater/film music was written in collaboration with John DiStefano for Kwan and Iger's Pins and Noodles, premiered at Center for the Arts Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco, CA, in November of 1993 which was transformed into a film and premiered on PBS's series POV in May of 1997. In November of 1994, DreamFrame for guitar was premiered at Roulette, NYC.

Joe was currently developing and performing variations of As Oceans Curve as well as his most recent work, An Arc of Gathering: The Mississippi River at Minneapolis, St. Louis and New Orleans. The first of these and Joe's last performance was performed in March of 1997 in Minneapolis at the Red Eye Theatre. These are nine hour performance/installation pieces. These series of site specific sound installations are a meditation on different aspects of the physical and psychic nature of the world's oceans and the Mississippi River, as well as the physical space in which the pieces are performed. Joe performed with his wife, poet and musician Wendy Jeanne Burch in their collaborative piece, Traffic Prayers, which is a meditation upon the bardos, written about in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, at Stoa Gallery in Petaluma, at Pauline Oliveros NonStop Flight (now available on CD) as well as various performances throughout California.

During January of 1992 he created and produced YesterDay Foretold/Ayer PreSagio, a multi-media theater piece with visual artist Charles Rose at the Mission Theater/Teatro Mision, in San Francisco whose temporal form is based on the meso-american 52 year calendar and whose content is the retelling of the eight dark omens experienced by the inhabitants of Mexico city 10 years before the invasion of Cortez in 1519.

In October of 1992, Joe conceived and organized a six-city live, interactive teleconferenced concert of experimental music, poetry and performance art between The Experimental Intermedia Foundation, New York, NY; Phil Davis' Shadow Productions Houston, TX; Pauline Oliveros Foundation - The Parlour, Kingston, NY; The Homestead parlor home of Joe Catalano and Wendy Burch, Oakland CA; The Electronic Cafe, International, Los Angeles; and The Interarts Consortium, UCSD La Jolla; featuring the work of 50 artists including, among others, Robert Ashley, Linda Montano, Charles Amirkhanian and Pauline Oliveros. The event is documented in the article Electronic Midwifery: A Videophone Celebration of Pauline Oliveros's Four Decades of Composing and Community by Joe Catalano in Leonardo Music Journal, Vol.3, pp.29-34, 1993.

Joe's other major works include Five Terrestrial Projections for Guitar and Other Instruments , a set of five major chamber pieces for guitar premiered at New Langton Arts, San Francisco, CA and It's In The Cards, an evening length Multi-Media, multi-artist musical performance work based solely on mail art presented at The Lab in San Francisco, CA.

Joe was actively involved in many events presenting other artists. In 1992 he conceived and curated the annual High Tides: San Francisco New Music Festival of Bay Area Composers, presented by the Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco, featuring new works by Bay Area composers and sound artists. For many years he and his wife Wendy have been presenting The Homestead Series, which they organized and held in their home, presenting musicians, poets, and other artists. His wife plans to continue this popular series.

Joe was also employed at the UC Berkeley Music Library.

He was survived by his wife, Wendy Jeanne Burch, his Mother and Father Luise and Leonard Catalano, two brothers Michael and James and sister Marie. His ashes are buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Piedmont, CA. Joe requested that the words to one of his compositions be placed on his marker: Listen Deeply, Beauty Surrounds You.


Price: $12.00