Biography

photo by Jeff Heveron

Composer, violinist, and computer music researcher Charles Nichols, whose music Gramophone describes “deconstructs Baroque virtuosity”, explores the expressive potential of instrumental ensembles, computer music systems, and combinations of the two, for the concert stage, and collaborations with dance, video, and installation art. His research includes spatial audio, data sonification, motion capture for musical performance, telematic performance, and haptic musical instrument design.

Nichols has worked with ensembles including the Beo String Quartet, Cascade Quartet, Earplay, FLUX Quartet, Hypercube, Klang String Quartet, loadbang, PEN Trio, Sapphire Trio, Spatial Forces Duo, Third Angle Ensemble, and Transient Canvas, and soloists including Charles Castleman, Brett Deubner, Susan Fancher, Kyle Hutchins, Megan Karls, William Lang, Elizabeth Lantz, Darragh Morgan, Sarah Plum, Kathleen Supové, and Steve Vacchi. He has collaborated with choreographers including Jane Comfort, Scotty Hardwig, and Amy Ragsdale, and artists including Paola Zellner Bassett, Meaghan Dee, Marie Yoho Dorsey, Zach Duer, and Joan Grossman.

His music and research has been presented at conferences including the Audio Engineering Society International Conference on Spatial Reproduction, Audio Mostly, Australasian Computer Music Conference, College Music Society National Conference, Conference for Research on Choreographic Interfaces, International Computer Music Conference, International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, International Conference for High Performance Networking Computing and Storage, International Conference on Saxophone Pedagogy and Performance, International Congress on Sound and Vibration, International Society for Music Information Retrieval Conference, Korean ElectroAcoustic Music Society Annual Conference, National Conference of the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities, NowNet Arts Conference, Society for ElectroAcoustic Music in the United States National Conference, and Society of Composers Inc. National Conference and festivals including the ACCelerate Smithsonian Creativity and Innovation Festival, Bang on a Can Institute, Birmingham Electroacoustic Sound Theatre Festival, Charlotte New Music Festival, Electronic Music Midwest, Feet to the Floor Festival, Festa Della Musica Europea, Festival Internacional de Musica Electroacustica "Primavera en la Havana", Iowa Composers Forum Summer Festival of New Music, June in Buffalo, Moogfest, Música Viva Festival, MusicAcoustica, Network Music Festival, New York City Electronic Music Festival, Noise Floor, NY Phil Biennial, Oaxaca FilmFest, Pan Music Festival, “Poznan Music Spring” International Festival of Contemporary Music, Root Signals Festival, San Francisco Dance Film Festival, Seoul International Computer Music Festival, Sound and Music Computing Festival, Split Film Festival, Supernova Digital Animation Festival, TANZAHOi International Festival, Taukay Edizioni Musicali Contemporanea Festival, Theremin Fest, Third Practice Electroacoustic Music Festival, and Torino Milano Festival Internazionale della Musica.

He has been commissioned by the Association of American Medical Colleges, Charlotte New Music Festival, Iowa Music Teachers Association, Montana State Music Teachers Association, Butte America Foundation, Montana Public Radio, Institute of Medicine and Humanities, Missoula Art Museum, The Myrna Loy, Amherst College, Drake University, Temple University, University of Montana, University of Oregon, Virginia Tech, Center for Communicating Science, Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology, Montana Institute on Ecosystems, Headwaters Dance Company, Missoula Symphony Orchestra, Montana Transport Company, University of Montana Symphony Orchestra, Earplay, Third Angle Ensemble, and Megan Karls, has been awarded by the Institut International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges, Fundación Destellos, International Design Awards, AltFF Alternative Film Festival, American Prize in Composition, National Academy of Music, Iowa Composers Forum, Montana Arts Council, Peoria Civic Federation, Renée B. Fisher Composer Awards, and ABLAZE Records and has received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Science Foundation, New Music USA, and PROP Foundation.

Nichols teaches Composition and Creative Technologies at Virginia Tech, is a Faculty Fellow of the Institute for Creativity Arts and Technology and the Center for Communicating Science, and previously taught at the University of Montana. He was a Technical Director at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford and a Research Associate at the Center for Studies in Music Technology at Yale. He has composed as a resident at the Ucross and Brush Creek artist retreats, conducted research as a visiting scholar at the Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen's University Belfast and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology at McGill University, and taught computer music workshops at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, Banff Centre, CCRMA, and the Charlotte New Music Festival.

He has earned degrees from the Eastman School of Music, Yale University, and Stanford University, where he studied composition with Samuel Adler, Warren Bensen, Martin Bresnick, Anthony Davis, Jacob Druckman, Brian Ferneyhough, Lucas Foss, and Jonathan Harvey, computer music with Jonathan Berger, Chris Chafe, Fernando Lopez-Lezcano, Max Mathews, Jean-Claude Risset, and Juilus Smith, and performance with Charles Castleman, Daniel Stepner, and the Cleveland Quartet.

photo by Barry Bowling