John (Anthony) Celona. Composer, saxophonist, b San Francisco 30 Oct 1947; B MUS (San Francisco State U) 1970, MA (San Francisco State U) 1971, PH D (U of California, San Diego) 1977. John Celona also studied at the University of Pittsburgh (as a Mellon fellow) and at Indiana U. His teachers included Henry Onderdonk, Iannis Xenakis, and Kenneth Gaburo. Along with his studies in saxophone and composition, he played jazz and pop music in clubs in San Francisco. He was awarded first prize in the 1971 BMI Awards for young composers. Celona began working with computers and electronic music at the Centre for Music Experiment (U of California, San Diego), and by 1972 was using computers to create and control spatial and timbral sound compositions. He also directed and founded jazz and improvisation ensembles, including the Networks Orchestra.
In 1977 Celona moved to the University of Victoria where he teaches composition, conducts new music, pursues research in music-compositional software and is the Associate Dean in the Faculty of Fine Arts. In this role, he also directs the Fine Arts Studios for Integrated Media, which includes their Laboratory for Extended Media, the Studio for Digital Innovation and Video, and the Studio for Design, Installation and Sound. He has conducted the university's new music ensemble, Sonic Lab, in performances of music by Webern, Stockhausen, Cage, Varèse, Rzewski, Babbitt, and others.
John Celona won first prize in the 1985 Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition for Possible Orchestras (at the 21st Harmonic), and has had his music performed in 20 countries. His recorded compositions include Music in Circular Motions (1981, Folk FTS-37545); Cordes de Nuit (1989, 4-ACM 37-CD); and To Drive in LA with Salvador Ferreras, percussion (1987, Miramar MRS-101); the Ex Novo Ensemble di Venezia CD Ouverture (Basilica Nuova); Player Piano (1996, eSp-9601-CD Shelan); Possible Orchestras (1998, WRC8-7233 CMC); and two SoundPrints CDs (Pacific Rims, SP9302, and sum over histories, SP9301, with the Sound Pressure sextet). As a conductor, Celona has recorded Remember Your Power (Centrediscs CMCCD 10104, 2004), featuring the music of John Burke; and Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire (DVD, UVIC Studios for Integrated Media).
John Celona's Compositions
Celona's music is mainly for electroacoustic media, with or without standard orchestral instruments. Many of his works have included live performance of electronics and/or live electronic manipulation of instruments. His work (including new music, avante-garde jazz, pop and world music) is noted for its spatial imaging, timbral orchestration, textural density, emotion, and eclecticism. He has been active in the development of integrated media software used in electroacoustic composition and performance, and has created a realtime music composition, orchestration, analysis and performance software for the Macintosh platform, called TimbreSpace. He has been commissioned by Salvador Ferreras (Instrument Flying, 1982; Primitive Cool Suite, 1985); Days, Months, and Years to Come (Magnetic Band) (Music on One Timbre, 1979); ARRAYMUSIC (Distant Drummer, 1986; Elan B, 1988); the Victoria International Festival (Moving Points, 1979; Voce Mod, 1991); and Sound Pressure.
In late 1999, Celona decided to pursue a new direction. He gathered a number of musicians whose interests mirrored his own in classical, contemporary music, jazz and structured improvisation, to form his own ensemble, John Celona's BlueCity. BlueCity performs a form of music that is fully composed with some solos. They are recorded on the CD CityLights.
Celona is an associate of the Canadian Music Centre.