Nils Vigeland

Nils Vigeland, the son of musicians, was born and raised in Buffalo, New York in 1950 during a remarkable period in the city’s musical life. The arrival of Lukas Foss as the conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic in 1963 and the creation of the Center for the Creative and Performing Arts at SUNY Buffalo in 1964 established Buffalo as the most dynamic environment for contemporary music in the United States. Vigeland’s introduction to his most important mentors, Foss, Leo Smit, Yvar Mikhashoff, and Morton Feldman, grew out of the city’s renaissance. In 1969 he made his professional debut as a pianist with the Buffalo Philharmonic, Foss conducting, and later studied with Foss at Harvard College, earning a B.A. in 1972. A year in Rome followed where Smit, on leave from SUNY Buffalo, was composer in residence at the American Academy. In 1973, Vigeland began graduate studies at SUNY Buffalo—in composition with Feldman and piano with Mikhashoff. In 1980 he founded The Bowery Ensemble, a new music group which gave an annual series of concerts for eight years at Cooper Union, in New York City, and presented the first performance of over thirty works by composers including John Cage, Jo Kondo, Pauline Oliveros, and Christian Wolff. During this time, he traveled extensively throughout Europe with Feldman, Eberhard Blum, and Jan Williams, performing Feldman’s extended-length works for flute, percussion, and piano, all of which were recorded on HAT ART. His own work has been performed by, among others, the orchestras of Milwaukee and Buffalo, both conducted by Foss; his Piano Concerto was first performed with the Oslo Radio Orchestra with Mikhashoff as soloist. Through the fortuitous coincidence of time and place, mentors became colleagues. Since 1984 Vigeland has taught at Manhattan School of Music, becoming the Chair of the Composition Department in 1998. It has been his good fortune to have taught so many gifted students, who in turn are now making their own individual paths in the world of music and becoming his colleagues.