Hobo Action Figures

2004

33 years after my birth, the year that Varèse died, 26 years to the day after Germany invaded Poland, I drove down I-5 to Stockton, then Bakersfield. Rather than going to Los Angeles, I turned left and went to Barstow, looking for the markings and any sign of Harry Partch. There are dogs there - it's safe here - they'll give you food - good luck. The wind blew warm across the open landscape, and a single, old police car patrolled the boiling street, Adam 12, a sign of order. My neighbour at the campsite drank Budweiser, shot the cans when they were empty, drove his truck 50 metres to the campsite toilet, hollered, shook, and drove back. The over-chlorinated pool was an attractive neon hole in the parched earth. Spiders plunged to their death, drawn in by something, the difference maybe. We hit Las Vegas, dirty and bright, some slots gleaming, some out of order. Without thinking, I licked a pink flamingo. I can still taste it. I’m sure you can imagine. After a night at the Jockey Club, we went straight back out there, to Mead Lake, where we watched large immigrant families catch dinnerfish, counted UFO’s in that blue night sky, and fire-cooked corn on the cob and beetroot in tinfoil husks. Iron orange soil stuck to your skin and absorbed the sweat. Places you see in every commercial still looked artificial, even when you touch them, even without the glowing frame. I washed my scarred hands, and went to the zoo to start life as a composer in residence, wondering “What will happen?” To touch it is to change it. There’s no love without touching. Without sifting through your fingers.


Paul Steenhuisen CA

Paul Steenhuisen is an art music composer and sound artist who works with broad range of acoustic and digital media. His concert music consists of orchestral, chamber, solo, and vocal music, and often includes live electronics and soundfiles. Additionally, he creates radio works, installation pieces,  Steenhuisen obtained his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition from the University of British Columbia, where he studied with Keith Hamel. Between academic degrees, he studied with Louis Andriessen and Gilius van Bergeijk at the Royal Conservatory of Music, The Hague. While living in Amsterdam, he also worked with Michael Finnissy in Brighton, England. Subsequently, he took part in the Cursus de Composition et Informatiques at IRCAM (Paris), and had lessons with Tristan Murail.  Upon his return from Paris, Steenhuisen participate in a winter session at the Banff Centre for the Arts, before taking on the shared position of Composer in Residence with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (1998-2000).

During his student years, Paul Steenhuisen’s music received more than a dozen national and international awards. These include four prizes in the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) Young Composers Competition, seven in the PROCAN/SOCAN Competition, first prize in the Vancouver New Music Composers Competition, and the Governor General of Canada Gold Medal as the outstanding student in all faculties (UBC, 1990). Music by Paul Steenhuisen was also selected for competition at the Gaudeamus Music Week.  In 2003, Dr. Steenhuisen was appointed Assistant Professor of Composition at the University of Alberta, where he was the founder of the Electroacoustic Research Studios (UA-EARS). He served as director of the new studios until his resignation in 2007. UA-EARS studios were created with financial support from the Endowment Fund for the Future, the Faculty of Arts, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. In early 2009, the University of Alberta Press published its first music text, Steenhuisen’s Sonic Mosaics: Conversations with Composers, a collection of interviews with thirty-one composers. In addition to this important text on Canadian music, Steenhuisen has contributed articles to the Angelaki Journal of Philosophy (co-written with Dr. Karen Houle), Circuit, Musicworks, Contemporary Music Review, Wholenote, and the World New Music Magazine (Köln).

For more information about Paul Steenhuisen, click here.

Paul Steenhuisen