Keeping Up with Charles Amirkhanian, New Music Pioneer

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO CLASSICAL VOICE -- A few years after graduating in English from Fresno State College, Charles came to the Bay Area where he became music director of Berkeley’s listener-supported KPFA-FM and obtained graduate degrees at San Francisco State College and Mills College. Now 75, Amirkhanian has co-directed Telluride Institute’s Composer-to-Composer festival and has been honored by the American Music Center, ASCAP and Chamber Music America for adventurous programming. He spoke with SFCV about his background, how he’s kept busy during COVID sheltering, the evolution of new music, and what’s not likely to be a reclusive retirement.

“In 1967, after I got my bachelor’s [at Fresno State] and then a master’s at San Francisco State in 1969, in Interdisciplinary Creative Arts,” he sais. “I did a whole thesis about how to play a picture as a performance, in any medium. It was related to my interest in [the multidisciplinary movement] Fluxus, which was emerging in New York.”