Gregory Kozak

Gregory Kozak

 Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN
BandAlternativeAvant-garde

"Gregory Kozak has gone further than most in uncovering an original North American voice of rhythmic pops, thumps, rattles and crashes." - MONTREAL MIRROR

Biography

GREGORY KOZAK composes music, creates innovative instruments and choreographs movement. He is both an ensemble musician and a concert soloist. He is Artistic Director of Scrap Arts Music, a creation and performance-based company he co–founded with Justine Murdy in 1998. His world-class five-member touring ensemble, 'ScrapArtsMusic', exclusively plays his 145+ invented instruments and his original repertoire at leading international festivals and theatres around the world.

A musician schooled in jazz and world music who draws inspiration from the avant-garde composers of the 20th century, Kozak learned the art of welding in order to create instruments that could give voice to his unique musical vision.

"Kozak's instruments tend to be, in the spirit of American composer Harry Partch,
mutated versions of the familiar, whether twirling hoses that render an airborne
layer of sound or mini-versions of concertina accordions. Their capabilities are limited
but distinctive, resulting in ethereal sounds that meld willingly with traditional
instruments and give them a whole new cast."
-- PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER (David Patrick Stearns)

Gregory's concern over our throw-away society inspired him to build his instruments exclusively from industrial scrap and found objects.

"Kozak just may have single-handedly performed a million acts of green."
-- WINNIPEG FREE PRESS (Gwenda Nemerofsky)

A musician first and foremost, Kozak was recently commissioned by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) to compose a new work inspired by the theme of Extace! (ecstacy) for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. The 13-minute piece made its debut at the 2009 WSO New Music Festival and featured Gregory as soloist with his latest invention, the 32-foot long, 22-stringed instrument dubbed the “Chariot of Choir”. Components of this invented instrument demonstrate Kozak’s signature re-use of scrapped materials, including parts from a BC saw mill, a mini submarine ballast, and a flying saucer prop from a low-budget sci-fi flick – all serving ingenious musical functions in their re-purposing.

“Gregory Kozak's 'Concerto for Chariot of Choir and Strings' provided the magic
for the night.”
-- WINNIPEG FREE PRESS (Holly Harris)

Innovative exploration and collaboration have characterized much of Gregory Kozak’s artistic and professional career.

He composed a symphonic piece for 65 young classical musicians and invented instruments, which was performed at the Vancouver International Children’s Festival’s 20th anniversary celebrations in 1997. Later that year, his first show of original work toured the US and made an acclaimed Broadway debut in February 1998.

"They have evoked the primitive, embodied the hip and reached out to an almost
extraterrestrial avant-garde."
-- THE NEW YORK TIMES (Lawrence Van Gelder)

Gregory’s first CD of original music, entitled "Fabrication Laboratory", was released that summer.

In July 1998, Gregory Kozak and partner Justine Murdy established Scrap Arts Music - an artistic company devoted to creating new instruments that would further Gregory's compositional and performance possibilities. Soon after a group of five spirited and uniquely talented performers was playing before large crowds at sporting arenas and international arts festivals. Gregory’s second CD of original music, "Phon", featuring quintet and well over a hundred invented instruments, was released in 2001.

Since the release of "Phon", Gregory Kozak and his quintet have toured the world performing ScrapArtsMusic's signature invented instrument extravaganza before literally hundreds of thousands of fans in Canada, USA, UK, Hong Kong, Macau, Australia, Netherlands, Mexico, Belgium, Spain, Guatemala and Taiwan.

In addition to festival and theatre engagements, Gregory has also received commissions to create original works for ScrapArtsMusic and other performers, including chamber orchestras, circus companies and dancers. One such collaboration was with the esteemed Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia; "Composition for Sighchordions and Strings" had its world premiere at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center in 2004.

"'Composition for Sigh-Chordians and Strings' is a beautifully evocative piece that
pairs the eerie sounds of the wind with the focused tones of string instruments.
It proffers an arching structure that is delineated through the rising and falling of
intensities and speeds, and it travels through time with an hypnotic power over
the listener. 'Synthesoid Plasmatron', 'Ribs' and 'Agreement' are all more percussive
in nature, and yet if anything all three are even more varied in timbral color and
textural range... Kozak's sense of unfolding form is flawless... and his ear for the
imaginative layering of propulsive rhythms is impeccable."
-- CHESTNUT HILL REVIEW (Michael

Lyrics

About the instruments used in "Conundrum"

Written By: Gregory Kozak

A complex drumming composition that begins with Gregory on his one-of-a-kind, home made “contraption” (aka “traps set”); soon after, players with mobile drums of varying design join the action. Instruments in this recording include: "Mini-Zig Traps" set – invented drum kit created from scrap and spun metals; "Ziggurat Drums" – Gregory's signature drum with a large drum-head, stepped spun aluminum drum shell which spins in the stand and produces different pitches depending on where it’s struck; "Hourglass Drums" –made of spun aluminum and stainless, pivots at the middle, has two drum-heads and creates the second highest pitches of the drums; "Humunga Drums" –barrel shaped, made of spun aluminum, and the lowest pitched, most bass of the mobile drums; "B-52 Drums" – a single-headed drum made from steel oil cans manufactured in 1952 which Gregory cleaned up, put on scrap stainless steel stands, and mounted with used Kevlar drum-heads; "Junk-on-a-Stick" – cymbal trees made with threaded rod and whatever sound makers Gregory could find.

About the instruments used in "Hip Hop"

Written By: Gregory Kozak

"Hip Hop" is a piece structured like a drum solo competition to end all others… Each player struts his or her stuff. Features the Ziggurats, Humungas and Hourglass Drums, with players taking turns soloing on the B-52s.

About "Concerto for Chariot of Choir & Strings"

Written By: Gregory Kozak

This composition was commissioned by the CBC and made its world premiere at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's New Music Festival in February 2009 to great acclaim. It features Gregory's latest invention, the "Chariot of Choir" which is a 32-foot long stringed instrument made from such eclectic elements as a sci-fi movie flying saucer prop, a flywheel from a fishing boat, parts from a sawmill in northern BC, a mini-submarine ballast, plus 22 strings made from piano and bass wire. The sound is generated by running one's hands along the length of the strings while wearing rosin-encrusted gloves.

Discography

Fabrication Laboratory (1998)
Phon (2001)
Scrapology (2002)
Composition for Sigh-chordions and Strings (2004)
Concerto for Chariot of Choir and Strings (2009)

Set List

COMMISSIONED ORCHESTRAL WORKS:

• The Ant's Dream (Commissioned by the Vancouver International Children's Festival) World Premiere, 1997.
• Composition for Sighchordions & Strings (commissioned by the Canada Council for the Arts & the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia) World Premiere, 2004.
• Concerto for Chariot of Choir & Strings (commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) World Premiere, 2009.

PARTIAL LIST OF OTHER COMPOSITIONS:

• CEOs in Love
• Nouveau Gons
• Chocolate Satellite Love Machine
• Poulet Noir
• Procession
• Bio-Conversion
• Itchy
• Agreement
• Synthesoid Plasmatron
• Annoyophonia
• Some Assembly Required
• Ribs
• Magnum Opus for Bowls & Plates
• Artillery Peace
• Whorlies
• Conundrum
• Sighchordions
• Engine of the Future
• Scrapology
• Metal Heads
• Plankton

ORIGINAL WORK FOR MOTION PICTURES:

• Boys Ballet (in "Shadow Dancing")
• Pas de Deux (in "Shadow Dancing")