Rooted in 20th century experimental music, John King has written media operas for full orchestras and voice, instrumental solos, string quartets, and mixed chamber works with live electronics. Neither 'sampling' nor 'quoting,' King draws from both classical and vernacular music traditions, synthesizing the conceptual with the avant-garde. He's been commissioned by Kronos and Ethel, as well as by choreographers, from the Merce Cunningham Dance Company to the Stuttgart Ballet. King has also composed an hour-long suite of pieces for what he calls his "Extreme Guitar Orchestra", which has been performed throughout Europe and across America. Underneath his plasticity lays a singular ethos: King celebrates the ineluctable mutability of the audible. His music, often structurally open, braids the written with the improvisational, spontaneity with indeterminacy, coalescing live and processed sound and, at times, allows performers unusual individual freedom in performance. Using the score as a temporal guidepost, a singer's voice accompanied by full orchestra in one performance could, with the structure randomly altered, be accompanied by a solo flute at another; players' heartbeats could determine multiple tempii. Whether in imaginative concert with Alain Robbe-Grillet, Stephané Mallarmé, or Bertolt Brecht, you might think of King's work as intense, visceral dialogue.

"My work involves the blending of written scores, chance-based systems, and improvisation; what I call 'determinate', 'random' and 'spontaneous' musical approaches. I find that these tendencies can and do co-exist in life, in the day-to-day world. Sometimes events are planned, sometimes a random coincidence interrupts the planning, and sometimes a spontaneous decision is made which overrides all planning and chance. I'm constantly shifting back and forth and around and through those different decision-making processes in life, so to unify these approaches within my music seems a natural progression."