Bedroom Community

Nico Muhly

Nico Muhly has composed a wide scope of work for ensembles, soloists and organizations including the American Ballet Theater, American Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, Carnegie Hall, Chicago Symphony, percussionist Colin Currie, countertenor Iestyn Davies, pianist Simone Dinnerstein, violinist Hilary Hahn, Gotham Chamber Opera, designer/illustrator Maira Kalman, choreographer Benjamin Millepied, Music- Theatre Group, New York City Ballet, New York Philharmonic, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Paris Opéra Ballet, soprano Jessica Rivera, The Royal Ballet, Saint Thomas Church in New York City , Seattle Symphony , and artist Conrad Shawcross. Muhly has also lent his skills as performer, arranger and conductor to Antony and the Johnsons, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Doveman, Grizzly Bear, Jónsi of the band Sigur Rós, and Usher.

In 2011, Muhly’s first full-scale opera, Two Boys, was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center Theater and the English National Opera. Two Boys, which—with a libretto by Craig Lucas and direction by Bartlett Sher—chronicles the real-life police investigation of an online relationship and ensuing tragedy, premiered in London in spring 2012. A chamber opera, commissioned by the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Music Theatre Group, and the Gotham Chamber Opera premiered in New York in fall 2012.

Recently, the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Decca released an entire disc of Muhly’s choral music, A Good Understanding. The Aurora Orchestra recorded his Seeing is Believing, released on Decca, and with choreographer Stephen Petronio Muhly created the evening-length I Drink the Air Before Me, which was a joint release between Decca and Bedroom Community. Among Muhly’s most frequent collaborators are his colleagues at Bedroom Community, an artist-run label headed by Icelandic musician Valgeir Sigurðsson. Bedroom Community was inaugurated in 2007 with the release of Muhly’s first album, Speaks Volumes. Since then, Muhly has released a second album, Mothertongue, and worked closely with labelmates Sigurðsson, Ben Frost, and Sam Amidon on their respective solo releases. In 2012, Bedroom Community released Muhly’s three-part Drones, in collaboration with pianist Bruce Brubaker, violinist Pekka Kuusisto, and violist Nadia Sirota. Muhly’s film credits include scores for Joshua (2007), Margaret (2009) and Best Picture nominee The Reader (2008); all have been recorded and released commercially.

Born in Vermont in 1981 and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, Muhly graduated from Columbia University with a degree in English Literature. In 2004, he received a Masters in Music from the Juilliard School, where he studied under Christopher Rouse and John Corigliano. From his sophomore year of college, worked for Philip Glass as a MIDI programmer and editor for six years. His writings and full schedule can be found at www.nicomuhly.com

What the press says

The EP is a lilting, sometimes arch set of modern classical composition – by no means intimidating to neophytes, and encoded with delightful little motifs.

Breaking down as a cycle of five efficiently short pieces, the results are captivating and continue to strengthen the case for Nico Muhly as one of the world’s consistently brilliant young composers.

Boomkat (May 25th 2012) Read all reviews

Brubaker alternates between lovely ivory lines and frantic, freeform eighty-eights pounding, while Sirota tends to supply sublimely droning string swells in the background.

Exclaim! (May 25th 2012) Read all reviews

Drones & Piano is an expressive, enchanting, moving skein.

Lucy Jones — The Telegraph (May 28th 2012) Read all reviews

...it’s real appeal is in savouring how Muhly creatively uses consonance and dissonance with his chosen drone.

Don’t assume this five-song collection sounds like your aunt singing Duran Duran whilst lugging a Dyson across the living room… the bedrock of these pieces becomes highly charged; stuck within a confined space they so desperately want to break free of.

For a large part of this quarter of an hour, Brubaker pokes the keys of his piano in an obsessive and compulsive way, and gives a strength and intensity to the story that at times abstracts any particular genesis or conception of the project, as if everything came to life on its own and full of meaning much beyond the constitution and starting point of the scores.

Playground Mag (June 22nd 2012) ★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

...it is both playful and studied, something incredibly hard to achieve. Well worth a closer look.

Boomkat (August 7th 2012) Read all reviews

These are drones with an intellect.

Robinson Meyer — The Atlantic (August 20th 2012) Read all reviews

The sharp bites of fingers crashing against the piano’s keys put against high pitched whirrs of the violin take you on a incredible journey through suspense and terror.

Francesca Davison — Dummy (August 30th 2012) Read all reviews

Nico Muhly has an intriguing creative mind; [Drones & Violin is] an interesting work and yet another addition to his diverse back catalogue.

The 405 (September 5th 2012) ★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

Muhly’s versatility has been commented on plenty at this point, and this series finale is yet more ammunition.

Boomkat (September 6th 2012) Read all reviews

Muhly challenges his compositional skills rather brilliantly and creates three intensely captivating series of compositions.

Bruno Lasnier — The Milk Factory (September 6th 2012) ★★★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

What is noteworthy here is the way songcraft repeatedly emerges from tension. Muhly’s explorations never fail to find something worthwhile.

Tobias Carroll — Dusted (October 5th 2012) Read all reviews

A compelling trio of EPs.

eMusic (November 12th 2012) Read all reviews

Drones is a necessary acquisition for anyone interested in Muhly’s work outside pop.

AllMusic (November 19th 2012) ★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

...Nico Muhly’s pieces feel like a series of archly posed questions. In their formal inventiveness, love of blank space, and haiku-like neatness, they arouse the part of your brain that suspects it’s being outsmarted…To feel your intellect being playfully, patiently tested, as if he is circling your mind and kicking its tires, can be a wonderfully maddening experience.

Jayson Greene — Pitchfork (November 29th 2012) ★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

“...the best thing I’ve ever heard of Muhly’s…”

Steve Hicken — Burning Ambulance (December 4th 2012) Read all reviews

One of the most impressive aspects of these pieces is the variety of relationships that unfold between the “solo” instruments and the drones…beautifully despondent.

The Boston Globe (December 22nd 2012) Read all reviews

“...the latest from this brilliant, boundary-pushing composer [...] is post-minimal virtuosity, sometimes rollicking in nods to the likes of Rzewski, sometimes static sculpture, sometimes rock-and-roll. It’s, vitally, never timid.”

Create Digital Music (December 26th 2012) Read all reviews

A hugely rewarding album that’s surely set to be one of the finest modern classical releases of 2010.

Boomkat (September 21st 2010) Read all reviews

..it’s the sheer variety of the invention, and the soundworld created for it, that holds the attention…

Guardian (September 30th 2010) ★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

Muhly is definitely a composer to watch out for.

All Music (October 21st 2010) ★★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

Throughout, Muhly realizes some magical effects

Pitchfork — Pitchfork (December 8th 2010) ★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

"Weird, and intermittently wonderful."

Andy Gill — The Independent (May 13th 2008) ★★★★★★ Read all reviews

"As accomplished as Muhly’s debut was, I wasn’t quite ready for him to unfurl the full length of his ambition in the way he does on Mothertongue."
"Here, Muhly brings classic instrumentation, electronics and voices together into a piece of work which is at the forefront of contemporary classical music. Truly magnificent."

themilkman — The Milk Factory (June 3rd 2008) ★★★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

"the three extended sound collages here are radically different in conception but are lent unified coherence by the central role of the various singers, all deployed at the extremes of human vocal expression."

Nigel Williamson — Uncut (June 17th 2008) ★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

 In a transfixing exploration of the sung voice’s possibilities, he draws on Icelandic myth, English folklore, 17th-century church politics and royal superstition. It is never less than fascinating.  

Dan Cairns — The Sunday Times (July 22nd 2008) ★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

"Muhly always wants to be perceived, and here, we witness the junkyard of his memory being spun into something at once utterly ordinary and utterly strange."

Pitchfork Media (August 19th 2008) Read all reviews

"It makes a change to come across an album of contemporary music that's not merely a document of a "performance" but a piece of creative recording in its own right."
"POSTMODERNISM’S TRIUMPH"

Atli Bollason — Morgunblaðið (October 17th 2006) ★★★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

"This is a dazzling album...a brilliant stylistic uniqueness."

Touching Extremes — Touching Extremes (April 2nd 2010) Read all reviews

"a highly evocative and beautiful album..."

FdW — Vital Weekly (April 2nd 2010) Read all reviews

"The combination of Muhly's formidable modern classical chamber compositions and Valgeir Sigurðsson's greatly textured and varied production makes for some pretty remarkable listening.... If you’re after one of those records no one’s heard off but that everyone will want to own once given an airing - this is the real deal. Gorgeous."

Boomkat — Boomkat (April 2nd 2010) Read all reviews

"A NEW ORTHODOXY - composer nico muhly speaks fluently"

Will Welch — The Fader Magazine (April 2nd 2010) Read all reviews

Media

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Everything Everywhere All The Time - Trailer

This is a trailer for the Bedroom Community film Everything Everywhere All The Time.
With Sam Amidon, Ben Frost, Nico Muhly and Valgeir Sigurðsson.
Also featuring Nadia Sirota.
Directed by Pierre-Alain Giraud.

Nico Muhly - Mothertongue Pt. 1: Archive

Images for Nico Muhly’s Mothertongue Pt. 1: Archive - Abigail Fischer. By Glenn McQuaid.

Nico Muhly - Skip Town

Film by Banner Gwin, music by Nico Muhly. The track Skip Town is available as a bonus track when you download Mothertongue from http://nicomuhly.bandcamp.com/album/mothertongue

Sam Amidon - How Come That Blood (live)

A live performance of Sam Amidon’s How Come That Blood. Footage shot in Brussels on the Bedroom Community’s Whale Watching Tour. Also featured in this piece are Ben Frost, Nico Muhly, Valgeir Sigurðsson.

Shot and edited by Pierre-Alain Giraud and Stuart Rogers.

Whale Watching 2010 Tour Trailer

Sam Amidon, Ben Frost, Nico Muhly and Valgeir Sigurðsson return with this wondrous concert-series through Europe, starting at Berlin’s Admiralspalast on the 18th April and ending in The National Theater in Reykjavík on 16th May. Also featuring Nadia Sirota.

Video by Pierre-Alain Giraud & Stuart Rogers.

Ben Frost - Híbakúsja

Performed during the Whale Watching Tour 2009, Brussels.
With Sam Amidon, Ben Frost, Nico Muhly, Valgeir Sigurðsson. Also featuring Nadia Sirota.
Video by Pierre-Alain Giraud & Stuart Rogers.

Nico Muhly - Skip Town

Filmed at the Union Chapel in London (February 2009).
Video by Pierre-Alain Giraud, music by Nico Muhly.

Draumalandið (Dreamland) Music Examples

Here are a few music examples from Draumalandið (Dreamland), a documentary about the exploitation of Iceland’s natural resources, tells a story about huge things—the fortunes of a whole nation; the destruction of vast landscapes; and the global economic forces, greater still than any nation, that fuel it all—and for his soundtrack to the film, Valgeir has brought out a heavier set of tools. His entire roster of Bedroom Community labelmates contributes in some way to the creation of the score: classical composers Nico Muhly and Daníel Bjarnason, industrial wizard Ben Frost, and American folksinger Sam Amidon, along with a host of others, and the small orchestra assembled for the record swells from moments of expansive beauty into massive, surging symphonic force. Its harmonies are anxious, pulsing, driven.

Valgeir Sigurðsson - Past Tundra

Whale Watching Tour 2009 in Leipzig.
Valgeir Sigurðsson with Sam Amidon, Ben Frost and Nico Muhly.
Also featuring Nadia Sirota.
Video by Stuart Rogers and Pierre-Alain Giraud.

Whale Watching Tour 2009

Sam Amidon, Ben Frost, Nico Muhly and Valgeir Sigurðsson. Also featuring Nadia Sirota.
European tour November 2009.
Video by Pierre-Alain Giraud and Stuart Rogers.

Nico Muhly - It Goes Without Saying

Video made by Una Lorenzen for ‘It Goes Without Saying’ from the album ‘Speaks Volumes’ by Nico Muhly, released on Bedroom Community 2006.

Hi-res photo

Latest News

11 September 2013

Nico Has Been Busy

10 June 2013

Nico News

8 May 2013

Two Hearts Playing In May

Discography

Drones
Released on 12 November 2012
Order now

I Drink The Air Before Me
Released on 6 September 2010
Order now

Mothertongue
Released on 25 May 2008
Order now

Speaks Volumes
Released on 25 November 2006
Order now

Mailing List

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Upcoming events

Apr 24

Collected Stories: love/loss
with Nico Muhly and Sam Amidon
Carnegie Hall
New York (United States)

Jun 2

SPIRAL MASS | SOLDIER SONGS@Holland Festival-- Music by Nico Muhly
with James McVinnie
Muziekgebouw
Amsterdam (Netherlands)

Jun 4

Nico Muhly/James McVinnie@Holland Festival
Orgelpark
Amsterdam (Netherlands)

On the web

  • Find out more on Nico Muhly’s website
  • Check out Nico Muhly’s page on Facebook
  • Follow Nico Muhly on Twitter
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