Ben Leeds Carson

Ben Leeds Carson

Ben Leeds Carson’s music has been performed widely at venues for experimental and contemporary music, including You Are Here (Brooklyn 2010), the Peak Frequency Series (Colorado Springs 2010), the New School’s iLand Cage Centennial (NYC 2013), the Boston Non-Event Series (2018), Washington DC’s Sonic Circuits (2018), the Foro Internacional de Música Nueva (Mexico City 2018), and the Smithsonian’s Meyer Series (Washington DC 2019); full concerts have been hosted at Sydney Conservatory (2005), an 11-work retrospective with the Yarn/Wire Quartet and distinguished guests at Columbia University’s Music Performance Program (2008), the Festival of the International Society for Improvised Music (2009). Carson’s music is available from Albany Records, Centaur Records, and UC San Diego’s Soundcheck series. In 2003, Ben joined the faculty at UC Santa Cruz, where he is Associate Professor of Music. His scholarly work appears in the Journal of New Music Research, the Search Anthology of New Music and Culture, the American Journal of Psychology, and UCLA’s online journal ECHO.

ARI Supported Project: 

Opportunity Equity for Young Composers Emphasizing Cross-cultural Practices

In the academic year 2020-2021, the Department of Music has begun to make good on the second phase of its promising ten-year planning process to decenter white and European art music practices in its curriculum. The first phase, implemented in 2011-12, was a broad curriculum overhaul that ended subsidization of a structurally Eurocentric curriculum by restructuring requirements in entry-level and upper-division coursework, enabling faculty support for diverse literacies. In the second phase, we delivered the more challenging task of diversifying pathways to our degrees by investing in required courses that enact bold new learning outcomes, pertaining to music literacies and practices in a range of South Asian, Central Asian, African, and Latin-American traditions. We culminated this overhaul with (among other things) a scholarship supporting student creative work in support of justice and equity, and new faculty hires.

Fulfilling the promise of structural change in the music department also requires year-to-year investment in the opportunities that our structural changes represent. This project will address the structural inequities that result from Eurocentric legacies in UC institutions, by supporting high-quality, formal performance resources for students pursuing composition and performance methods outside the norms of conventionally notated Western practices. Funding will be dedicated to two intensive needs: (1) honoraria for accomplished performers in a variety of instrumental specializations, supporting rehearsals distributed over three weeks’ time, and (2) professional sound and recording technology to support concert and recording production for students’ works.

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