Charles Shere: Like Cage, Charles Shere was interested in both music and the visual arts. Like Harrison, he made his living by writing criticism. Like Subotnick and Leland Smith, he not only studied at Mills but taught there.
Born in Berkeley in 1935, he graduated from Sebastopol HIgh School, went to Santa Rosa Junior College, San Francisco State University, and the University of California, Berkeley, from which he graduated with honors (in English) in 1960. He later studied music (in 1961-64) and painting (in 1983) at Mills and electronic music (in 1987) at San Francisco State.
Like Charles Amirkhanian and Janice Giteck, he was the music director of Berkeley radio station KPFA (1964-64). Thereafter, he served as an announcer, producer, and critic at KQED-TV (1967-74). With Mills alumna Anne Kish, he founded the monthly new music publication "EAR", which he edited and published from 1973-78. he taught criticism, composition, and history classes at Mills (including a course in modern art history) from 1973 to 1984 and was an art and music reviewer for the Oakland Tribune for sixteen years beginning in 1972.
His most important musical work and an ambition to paint both stemmed from the same experience: while attending a retrospective exhibit of Marcel Duchamp's paintings in Pasadena, he said he was "instantly seized" by the artist's audacity, vision and intelligence.
The first hearing of excerpts from "The Duchamp Opera" took place in Berkeley in 1967. Various additions made between 1969 and 1971 were performed at Mills in march 1971. A new version called "Duchamp Opera (the Bride Stipped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even) was given a "laboratory" production at Mills in 1984 using funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Revised Excerpts were done in San Francisco in November 1986 and at the University of California at Berkeley in 1987, but a fully staged performance of the complete work was cancelled two weeks before its scheduled premiere at Herbst Theater in December 1986.
Shere did a pair of chamber operas called "Ladies' Voices" (1987) and "I Like It to Be a Play (1987) for San Francisco's Noh Oratorio Society and an opera in one act, "The Box of 1914", which was premiered by John Adams conducting the new Music Ensemble at the San Francisco Conservatory.
Other pieces include a Concerto for Violin with Harp, Percussion and Small Orchestra (1990), "Sonata: Bachelor machine" (1990), Requiem with Oboe (1985), Nightmusic (1976), and "Certain Phenomena of Sound" (1982), the last of which was recorded by Kent Nagano -- the conductor, thereafter, of the Lyons (France) Opera - and the Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra.
"Tongues" was commissioned by the Arch Ensemble in 1978. "From Calls and Singing" was commissioned by the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra in 1968 and performed by the Detroit Symphony conducted by Paul Freeman in 1972. He has also functioned extensively as a writer of articles on Karlheinz Stockhausen, Mauricio Kagel and British Columbia painting, done TV and audiotour scripts on Marcel Duchamp, Andrew Wyeth, and Georgia O'Keefe, and provided a number of introductions for catalogues and books, including "'The guests go into supper". In 1993 he was at work on a series of biographies of twentieth-century composers.