Distinguished Guest Composer

One of the signature offerings of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition is the annual appointment of a Distinguished Guest Composer. This position offers a residency ranging between three months and a full year to work with the Center’s musicians and scholars. 

2021-22 Distinguished Guest Composer: Matana Roberts

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The University of Chicago’s Center for Contemporary Composition (CCCC) has invited Chicago-born artist Matana Roberts to serve as this year’s Distinguished Guest Composer. As part of the residency, the CCCC has commissioned an original musical composition that will become a new 45-minute chapter in Roberts’s COIN COIN series project. In addition, CCCC is supporting the recording of the commissioned work and Roberts will participate in composition activities on campus and take the CCCC’s programming outside of the concert hall with a variety of university and community activities.

Matana Roberts is one of the leading lights of contemporary experimental music, combining their widely recognized gifts as an alto saxophone player and improviser with an intensely engaged re-definition of Jazz traditions. Roberts has been called "a major talent" (The Wire) and "the spokeswoman for a new, politically conscious and refractory Jazz scene" (Jazzthetik). A self-taught mixed media composer, Roberts earned two degrees in performance from a smattering of American institutions but received their primary training from free arts programs in the American Public School System

Composer and Director of the CCCC, Augusta Read Thomas, said, “I am thrilled and excited to welcome Roberts who will be an inspiring colleague and a valuable mentor in the Department of Music and across the university! Authentic, genuine, creative, broad-minded, and intellectual, Roberts has deep artistic and political commitments allied to a captivating, energizing spirit. We are honored to be commissioning and supporting the recording of a new chapter of COIN COIN, Robert’s monumental, multi-part, ambitious work.”

Read the full announcement


Previous Distinguished Guest Composers

Tania Leon headshot

Tania León


Learn more about Tania León's residency with the CCCC.