Serving the San Francisco Bay Area New Music Community

Pamela Z
Pamela Z is a San Francisco-based composer/performer and media artist who works primarily with voice, live electronic processing, sampling technology, and video. One of the pioneers of live digital looping techniques, she processes her voice in real time to create dense, complex sonic layers in her solo works that combine experimental extended vocal techniques, operatic bel canto, found objects, text, and sampled concrète sounds. In her current performance work, she uses MAX MSP and Isadora software on a MacBook Pro along with custom MIDI controllers that allow her to manipulate sound and image with physical gestures. Her performances range in scale from small concerts in galleries to large-scale multi-media works in flexible black-box venues and proscenium halls. In addition to her performance work, she has a growing body of inter-media gallery works including multi-channel sound and video installations.

Pamela Z has toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan. She has performed in numerous festivals including: Bang on a Can at Lincoln Center (New York); La Biennale di Venezia (Italy); the Interlink Festival (Japan); Other Minds (San Francisco); and Pina Bausch Tanztheater's 25 Jahre Fest (Wuppertal, Germany). She has composed, recorded and performed original scores for choreographers and for film/video artists, and has done vocal work for other composers (including Charles Amirkhanian, Vijay Iyer, and Henry Brant). Her large-scale, multi-media performance works, Parts of Speech, Gaijin, Voci, and Baggage Allowance have been presented at venues including the Kitchen in New York, Theater Artaud and ODC Theater in San Francisco, the Museum of Contemporary Art Theatre in Chicago, as well as at theaters in Washington D.C. and Budapest Hungary. Her one-act opera Wunderkabinet inspired by the Museum of Jurassic Technology (co-composed with Matthew Brubeck) premiered at The LAB Gallery in San Francisco, and was presented at REDCAT in Los Angeles and Open Ears Festival in Canada. She has had media works presented in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York); the Erzbischöfliches Diözesanmuseum (Cologne); the Tang Museum (Saratoga Springs NY); the Dakar Biennale (Sénégal); Krannert Art Museum (IL), and the Kitchen (NY).

Ms. Z has been commissioned to compose works for new music chamber ensembles: Kronos Quartet, the Bang On A Can Allstars; Ethel, the California E.A.R. Unit; the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble; the Empyrean Ensemble, and St. Luke's Chamber Orchestra. Since 1986, she has been producing "Z Programs", an ongoing series of interdisciplinary events in which her own work is featured along with that of other experimental artists in various genres, and she currently curates and presents a periodic avant-chamber event called "the ROOM Series". She has collaborated with a wide range of composer/performers, media artists, and choreographers including Miya Masaoka, Joan Jeanrenaud, Brenda Way (ODC Dance), Jeanne Finley + John Muse, Shinichi Momo Koga, Christina McPhee, Leigh Evans, and Jo Kreiter. She has participated in several Zakros New Music Theatre events (including their John Cage festivals), and has performed with The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. Pamela is the recipient of numerous awards, including: the Guggenheim Fellowship, the CalArts Alpert Award in the Arts; the Creative Capital Fund; the MAP Fund, the ASCAP Music Award; an Ars Electronica honorable mention; and the NEA and Japan/US Friendship Commission Fellowship. She holds a music degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Pamela Z's interactive web-based work Baggage Allowance can be accessed at
BREATHING is a movement from Carbon Song Cycle (a inter-media chamber work by composer/performer Pamela Z and visual artist Christina McPhee). The work was originally written for voice & electronics, bassoon, viola, cello, percussion, and tape. This is a solo version performed by the composer (with just voice, processing, and tape), recorded at a 3/13/2014 duo concert with Joan La Barbara as part of the 2014 ROOM Series. Pamela Z is using a gesture controller (designed and built by Donald Swearingen). © 2013 Last Letter Music (ASCAP)
CDs on which Pamela Z appears:
Pamela Z A Delay is Better
Artist: Pamela Z
Title: A Delay is Better
Label: Starkland ST-213
Label page on this site: Starkland
Starkland ST-213
Audio Samples: