Joseph Celli is an American based inter-media artist who is boldly experimental, and uses sound as a central aspect of his work. Acclaimed internationally for several decades as a double reed performer/composer, record, radio, concert producer and arts administrator.

Joseph has conducted extensive work in the field of experimental and world music as both a composer/performer and presenter and has worked with a virtual ‘who’s who’ of the American experimental music community including John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, Ornette Coleman, Morton Feldman, Robert Ashley, Anthony Braxton, Malcolm Goldstein, Laurie Anderson, Phill Niblock, Jerry Hunt, Terry Riley, Alvin Lucier, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Kronos Quartet, Alvin Curran, Tan Dun and Jin Hi Kim amongst many others. His experimental compositions and improvisations reflect the oft-quoted Cage statement, “…an experimental action is one the outcome of which is not foreseen.” He toured to over forty countries, presented innumerable work premiers of works written for him as well as the American Premiere of Karhlenize Stockhausen’s Solo and Spiral for a soloist with a shortwave receiver.

“My early work in the 70’s with the de-constructed oboe and the extended techniques that I developed resulted in composers writing for these instruments in profoundly new ways and subsequent generations of performers expanding the sonic field of double reed instruments.” Joseph’s expanded instrumental vocabulary led to his studies of Korean, Japanese and Indian double reed instruments and some cases this resulted in introducing them into Western performance or composition including new works by Ornette Coleman, Jin Hi Kim, and others.

His early training with Joseph Allard (Juillard/NYC) was as a jazz saxophonist allowed him to work his way through college performing with rhythm and blue, jazz and Cuban groups as he began specializing in experimental performance for the oboe and English horn. He studied oboe with Ray Still of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and members of the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and other leading oboists. Subsequently, he received the first Fulbright Award to study Korean traditional music resulting in studies of the piri with National Living Treasure Chung Jae-Gook in South Korea and the hichiriki at the Imperial Court Gagaku in Tokyo. This was in addition to personal studies of Indian, Indonesian and world music traditions. Celli has said, “My greatest learning moments were sitting in unadorned NYC clubs several seats from the stage and having the sound of Coltrane, Coleman, Monk and Mingus piercing the core of my being.”

Concurrent with his musical activity Celli maintained a lively schedule as an arts ‘entrepreneur’ developing alternative venues for innovative artists and new art activities. He was the founder and/or director of a number of organizations devoted to new, experimental art and world music including Real Art Ways (RAW), New Music America Festival, oodiscs, and the Black Rock Art Center.

Real Art Ways (RAW)
Celli was a founding member and director of Real Art Ways (RAW) in Hartford (1978) and grew it to become the most active new art centers in New England and a national model as an ‘artist organization’ (NAAO). Over 3,000 events were presented under his leadership including an eclectic range of new music, visual arts, film, spoken word, video and performance. Activity included all of the previously mentioned composers in addition to an expansive group of visual artists such as Vito Acconci, Harmony Hammond, Judy Pfaff, Cindy Sherman, Robert Longo, Nancy Spero, John Badessari, Carolee Schneemann, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Howardena Pindell, Sol Lewitt, Judy Chicago, Chris Burden, Hannah Wilke, Mary Beth Edelson, Lynda Benglis, Faith Ringgold, Eric Bogosian, Anna Mendieta, Betye Saar, and Andy Warhol among others.

During his RAW tenure, poet Julia Lebentritt, Director of the Poetry/Theatre/Dance Series, presented innumerable artists including Allen Ginsberg, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Ntozake Shange, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Ishmael Reed, and Peter Schumann’s Bread & Puppet residency. In addition Celli produced notable national festivals including major retrospectives of Alvin Lucier and Ornette Coleman, and the American Premiere of Cage’s 12-hour Empty Words with a National Public Radio broadcast.

New Music America Festival
Celli co-directed with Mary Luft two nationally acclaimed New Music America Festivals (NMA) that were the largest new music festivals held in North America. They successfully brought out of the shadows the breadth and depth of current 20th Century composition and creation. They organized NMA festivals in Hartford (1984) and Miami (1988). NMA Miami included over 69 performances in nine days, 25 South American composers, many world premieres with the Kronos Quartet as Artists-In-Residence, Michael Tilson Thomas conducting, and a concurrent Music Critics Association of North America Conference taking place.

oodiscs, inc.
Celli founded oodiscs as an independent recording label that existed, “ create sound art for the home…the disc itself should be able to stand as an artistic statement not dependent upon live performance for reiteration.”(2) oodiscs released and distributed world-wide a total of seventy discs of new, experimental, avant-garde music ranging from improvisation to computer music. He also worked at creating the Record Label Consortium of 16 independent new music labels and developed a national promotion and advertising campaign for these ground-breaking companies. View Discography

Black Rock Art Center (BRAC)
Joseph, as Executive Director, worked with a community of artists and activists in establishing BRAC as a multi-cultural center for arts and education while renovating a former bank building. The center, housing several non-profits, presented a wide and diverse range of culturally diverse programs reflective of the rich ethnic mix of the region. In addition to exhibitions, concerts, street fairs, and education programs BRAC organized free music festivals throughout the city featuring a range of artists such as Eddie Palmieri, Odetta, Richie Havens, Living Colour, James Cotton, Ashford & Simpson amongst many others.

Awards & Commissions
Celli has received awards from Connecticut Commission on the Arts, Meet the Composer, the Rockfeller Foundation, Asian Cultural Council, New American Radio, Foundation for Contemporary Performing Arts, Arts International, and many others in addition to residencies at the Rockfeller Bellagio Center (Italy), Djerassi Foundation (CA), Millay Colony, (NY), as being a panelist of innumerable organizations.

Celli Bio (footnotes)
(1) Wikipedia
(2) NewMusicBox,