Percussionist, National Gallery of Art New Music Ensemble, and Percussionist, red fish blue fish

Ross Karre is a percussionist and temporal artist based in New York City. His primary focus is on combining media, including classical percussion performance, electronics, theater, moving image, visual art, and lighting design. He designs integrated, moving images that emerge from an aesthetic foundation in American experimental music as well as that of the European avant garde. His projection design and video art has been presented in such prestigious venues as the BBC Scotland (Glasgow Concert Halls), Miller Theatre (NYC), and the National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC). As a percussionist, he has worked closely with European masters such as Pierre Boulez, Helmut Lachenmann, and Harrison Birtwhistle. Karre was recently appointed a percussionist for the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) and he also performs regularly with Third Coast Percussion (Chicago) and the National Gallery of Art New Music Ensemble. Ross Karre is an activist member of Ensemble XII, based in Lucerne, Switzerland, a group that Pierre Boulez called “the next generation in the evolution of modern percussion”. He has also been a long-time member of San Diego’s red fish blue fish, participating in their award-winning recordings of Xenakis and other major performances and recordings both as a percussionist and as an innovative documenter of that ensemble’s work.

Beginning his work as a video artist while pursuing percussion studies at Oberlin Conservatory, Karre continued at UCSD, completing his Doctorate in Music with Steven Schick and then formalized his intermedia studies with a Master of Fine Arts from the Visual Arts Department there.

Currently, Ross Karre is working on a commission to design projected moving images in collaboration with Roger Reynolds for performances by the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, in October 2013. Other Karre commissioners for classical music videography have included eighth blackbird, Third Coast Percussion, Mode Records, Monday Evening Concerts, red fish blue fish, and the International Contemporary Ensemble. From his performer stance, he is also serving as Director of the Percussion Day Event and subsequent Workshop on the John Cage Centennial Festival Washington, DC (September 2012). He will perform on the Festival alongside red fish blue fish and Percussion Group Cincinnati.

About a performance of Harrison Birtwhistle’s The Axe Manual, Los Angeles critic Alan Rich wrote that he was “…enthralled for nearly half an hour with just the interplay of piano (Aleck Karis) and Ross Karre, all over the place with his percussion monster: mostly woodblocks, temple blocks, vibe and marimba.” Anthony Tommasini wrote in The New York Times that Karre’s participation in the American premiere of James Dillon’s Nine Rivers “gave the audience something to hold onto”: “The stage was set with three screens for video design…which showed a montage of diagrams and graphs, tunnels, grassy fields….” And there has also been widespread critical acclaim for Mode’s Sanctuary DVD by Roger Reynolds. Paul Griffiths, in his Record Notes, writes, “…the studio DVD recording, made under the direction of Ross Karre…rivets the attention on what seems indeed to have the necessity, the excess and the strangeness of a rite.”  The Neue Züricher Zeitung (January 2012) notes Karre’s “fabulous audiovisual production…a Gesamtkunstwerk of high musical and technical perfection.” – Karen Reynolds with Ross Karre

James Chute in The San Diego Union-Tribune writes:

Reynolds and Ross Karre (also a percussionist)…adapted the work [Sanctuary], to…a process they call ‘Integrated Perspectives,’ in which the cameras’ perspectives are choreographed to the music (in a sense, the cameras become another instrument in the ensemble)…. The video allows plenty of space for the work’s expansive character, but it also has an intimacy that underscores the piece’s most humanistic, even optimistic qualities. Given that the computer is the unseen performer – generating sounds Reynolds has referred to as akin to dreaming – Karre has made its part visible. He creates a visual analogue for the computer portions that at first may seem distracting, but only if you mistake the video for performance documentation. This is not a document of a performance; it is the performance, a performance that will allow you to find your own ‘Sanctuary.’    

Ross Karre in performance of James Dillon's Nine Rivers, Miller Theatre at Columbia
University, 2011. Photo image credit: