(bPittsburgh, 1 Sept 1925). American composer, pianist and educator. White began composing at the age of eight and, since the age of 15, has produced a steady stream of works in a variety of styles and genres. She studied with Nikolai Lopatnikoff at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (later Carnegie Mellon University: BFA 1948, piano and composition; MFA 1949, composition), then continued with John Vincent at UCLA (1950–54). She studied privately with George Antheil (1951–4), learning from him the important underlying principles of Classical sonata form, which provided ‘the key to writing larger works that were structurally sound’.
White's involvement in electronic music was precipitated by a belief that all the experiments in traditional media, from Impressionism to atonality, polytonality and the like, were closed paths – that ‘this medium … had reached its zenith by the end of the nineteenth century, and, since then, its basic principles were being systematically destroyed’. She also found much of the early electronic music ‘chaotic and senseless’, concluding that those ‘unshaped and arbitrary sounds being made were noise and just that’. After building her own electronic music studio (1964–70; now on display at the Kenneth G. Fiske Museum of Musical Instruments), she developed her own brand of electronic music, which explored new timbral and harmonic resources without renouncing the order and logic instilled by her classical training. Short Circuits, among her best-known compositions, consists of electronically orchestrated versions of familiar pieces by composers from Couperin and Scarlatti to Shostakovich. Other electronic works, such as Pinions, Seven Trumps from the Tarot Cards and Flowers of Evil are notable for their inventiveness, power of communication and melodic appeal.
White's career has followed many paths. In education, she has created a large library of materials that teach children through music, dance and film; in visuals, she has experimented with analogue animation (manipulation of visual sound waves) and other video and electronic music combinations. One of her art pieces, Steel, received an Atlanta Film Festival award (1971). A continuing project is a science fiction opera trilogy, for which she is writing both the text and score. Using analogue and electronic music, choreography and digitally controlled visuals, this work represents a convergence of her many different paths.
Stage: The Owl and the Pussycat (children's ballet, after E. Lear), nar, fl, cl, bn, 2 pf, perc, 1965
Orch: Suite, 1949; Shofar Sym., 1965
Vocal: Songs from the Japanese Poets (trad. haiku), 1v, pf, 1947; Palestinian Song Cycle (anon.), S, bn, pf, perc, 1950; Settings for Lullabies from ‘Round the World’ (trad.), T, S, pf, vc, ob, eng hn, 1955; A Certain Slant of Light (E. Dickinson), S, pf, 1955
Chbr and solo inst: Pf Sonata, 1948; Tpt Sonata, 1952–3; Music for Dance, 1962–8, incl. Study no.1, hn, tpt, pf, perc; Study no.2, 2 pf; Perc Patterns, elec; Kaleidoscope I, elec; Divertissement in F, hn, tpt, pf, perc; Dance Suite, hpd; Archetonics, pf; Pentatonics, hpd; Little Suite, fl, cl, pf; Synthesonics nos.1–2, elec; Contrasts, altered insts
Elec: Pinions (ballet), 1966; 7 Trumps from the Tarot Cards, 1967, staged as a ballet, 1970; Flowers of Evil (C.P. Baudelaire), 1969; Short Circuits, 1970
Music Videos, mixed media and educational materials: Butterflies, 1971 [elec realization of Grieg's Schmetterling, op.43 no.1, with animated graphics], 1971; Steel, 1971 [with animated graphics]; A Child's Garden of Delights, mixed media, 1972–3; 6 Fantasies for Children: The Adventures of Mr Windbag, 1973–4; c60 albums with songs, lyrics, stories, etc. for children (1955–)
Film scores; music for television commercials
Principal recording companies: Rhythms Productions, Limelight/Mercury Records, EMI
GroveW (A.B. Ho) [incl. further bibliography]
A.I.Cohen: International Encyclopedia of Women Composers, ii (New York, 1981, 2/1987), 751–2 [incl. selective discography, 1138]
ALLAN B. HO
(bSt Catherine, Jamaica, 10 Oct 1946). Jamaican bass. After studying in New York, he made his début in 1974 at Washington, DC, as Trulove, then sang with New York City Opera. He made his British début with the WNO in 1976 as Osmin and has since sung Massimiliano (I masnadieri), Orestes (Elektra), Zaccaria and Boris Godunov. For the ENO he has sung Seneca, Hunding, Achillas (Giulio Cesare), Ivan Khovansky (Khovanshchina) and the Dutchman. His Glyndebourne roles include the Speaker, Colline, King of Clubs (Love for Three Oranges) and Porgy. At Amsterdam he has sung Oroveso, Banquo, the Forester (The Cunning Little Vixen), Prince Gremin, Berlioz's Méphistophélès and Golaud. White made his Covent Garden début in 1980 as Don Diego (L'Africaine), returning for Klingsor, Timur, Fafner and Pizarro; he was also a magnificent Porgy in the first performance of Gershwin's opera in that theatre (1992). His other roles include Sarastro, Leporello, and Wotan (Das Rheingold and Die Walküre), which he has sung for Scottish Opera. He took the role of Moses in Moses und Aron at Edinburgh (1992) and sang Claggart (Billy Budd) in Geneva in 1994. Among his recordings are Handel's Polyphemus, Pluto in Monteverdi's Orfeo, the Ballad Singer (Gloriana) and two complete versions of Porgy and Bess. A powerful singer with a ripe, resonant voice capable of both mellow lyricism and imposing declamation, he is a superb actor who has played Shakespeare's Othello in the theatre.