Jacqueline Bobak is a singer, composer, and educator committed to creating, interpreting, and teaching adventurous music made with and for the voice. She has performed extensively throughout North America and Europe, composed vocal music ranging from solos to an opera, conducted research in experimental music and art, collaborated with numerous composers and artists, and taught since 1991 at the California Institute of the Arts.
Ms. Bobak’s repertoire encompasses solo works, operas, and chamber music, from the traditional to the avant-garde. Most of her performances feature new and emerging pieces, including many composed especially for her. For over two decades she has been an active and critically acclaimed performer in the Los Angeles area, where she has appeared on the Los Angeles Philharmonic Green Umbrella series, Monday Evening Concerts at the LA County Museum of Art, at REDCAT, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Getty Center, Villa Aurora, Automata, MicroFest, and Downtown Opera. In Europe she has appeared on the Audio Art Festival in Kraków; the Moravian Autumn Festival, Musica Nova Exposition, and New Music + series in Brno, and the Olomouc Contemporary Music and Opera Schrattenbach Festivals in Olomouc (Czech Republic); at the Mozarteum, the Academy of Musical Arts and The Roxy in Prague; on the York Spring Music Festival (UK); and at Spīķeri and Wagner Halls in Rīga. She has appeared as a soloist or ensemble member with the Penderecki Quartet, California EAR Unit, Electric Phoenix, Xtet, and CalArts New Century Players; in numerous duo concerts with Czech percussionist Dan Dlouhý; and has premiered works by Wadada Leo Smith, Chinary Ung, Frederic Rzewski, William Brooks, Ivo Medek, Mark Bobak, and many others.
Ms. Bobak’s recently emerging compositional voice is informed by over three decades of deep involvement in new music. Her work mixes visceral and intellectual elements in pieces that expand vocal boundaries while also incorporating extra-musical ideas and influences from theater and the visual arts. Her current project, Dada Divas, is centered on important female artists who were among the originators of Dada. This large-scale work combines elements of cabaret, variety show, opera, performance art, improvisation, theater, lecture, and experimental music in an odyssey through artists’ lives, creative works, and ideas about modernity and the future. It draws upon art history, literary modernism, gender studies, socio-political history, and early 20th-century performance practice, illuminating historical and artistic contributions by women who until recently were overshadowed by their male counterparts. Various versions of Dada Divas have been presented at the Dada World Fair in San Francisco, on the Festival Vértice in Mexico City, the XIII Festival Internacional Música Nueva in Monterrey, Mexico, the Na Orlì Theatre in Brno and Olomouc Contemporary Music Festival (Czech Republic), and Automata in Los Angeles, among others.
Her other major performing, research, and teaching has focused on John Cage’s vocal and theatrical works, especially his remarkable Song Books. Ms. Bobak has taught courses on Song Books, conducted workshops and master classes on the work, and facilitated countless renditions of it ranging in length from less than 1 minute to 4 hours. Her many performances of Song Books have included a version accompanying Mikhail Baryshnikov and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company on its farewell tour in Los Angeles. She is among the artists who developed Vir2Ual Cage, an expansive multi-media interpretation of Song Books that recasts the piece using modern technology. Her interest in Cage and Dada stems from her doctoral dissertation in 1992 from the University of Illinois, Radical Evolution: The Influence of Futurism and Dada on the Non-Linear Operas of Philip Glass and John Cage.
Ms. Bobak is considered one of the leading teachers of contemporary vocal repertoire, techniques, and performance in the United States. In nearly three decades at the California Institute of the Arts she has guided many singers and young artists, several of whom have embarked on significant careers in contemporary music and academia. Having reanimated CalArts’ Voice Program in the early 1990s, she currently serves as Co-Director of the Institute’s unique VoiceArts Program, a flexible course of study dedicated to creating art made with and for the voice. A sought-after lecturer on contemporary vocal music, she has been an artist-in-residence at the Lake Placid Seminars, the Janáček Academy of Music (Brno, Czech Republic), the University of York (UK), the International Young Musicians’ Master Classes in Latvia, and the Columbus College of Art and Design (Ohio). She has held a Lorado Taft Visiting Artist residency at the University of Illinois, and presented master-classes at several European conservatories and universities as well as in colleges and universities throughout the US. Recently she has expanded her research to include linguistics, and has taught courses that explore the creative potential of phonetics.
For over a decade Ms. Bobak held several major administrative positions at CalArts, notably Interim Assistant Provost and Associate Dean for Academic and Special Projects in the School of Music. She also played a principal role in CalArts’ various accreditation processes, and was an invited presenter several times at conferences of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Ms. Bobak led the task group that created CalArts’ first doctoral program, the groundbreaking Performer-Composer DMA that continues to draw international interest, especially from voice students; developed and coordinated the School of Music’s Interim program; and forged international initiatives and exchange programs. In 2014 she retreated from administrative work in order to devote her full attention to the VoiceArts program as well as to her own creative pursuits.
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