1. Faculty

Luciano Chessa

NOTE: On Sabbatical for 2018-19; Music History and Literature

"The boundaries around which Luciano Chessa is moving are partly those we draw between child and adult, innocence and experience, toy and tool—as well as those between music and theater, art and play. Each variation uses a different oggetto di scena (prop), with musical as well as dramatic consequences, affecting both sound and feeling. In a context of absurdity, tenderness squeezes itself out.” —Paul Griffiths, 2011


  • Improvisation in Contemporary Music
  • Experimental Composition
  • Music since 1985
  • Experimental Instruments in Contemporary Music
  • Topics in Music History: 20th and 21st Centuries


  • PhD, University of California, Davis
  • Diploma di Laurea, University of Bologna, Italy
  • Compimento Medio, G. B. Martini Conservatory of Music, Bologna, Italy
  • Diploma, G. B. Martini Conservatory of Music, Bologna, Italy


  • Orchestra of Futurist Noise Intoners, Conductor


  • Composer in Residence at Emily Harvey Foundation, Italy, 2017
  • Composer in Residence at the Harrison House, 2016
  • Fellow at Villa Montalvo, 2016
  • Fellow at the Artist Residency in Civitella Ranieri, Italy, 2014
  • magna cum laude, University of Bologna

What is your hometown?

Sassari, Sardinia

Who were your major teachers?

Umberto Eco, Sylvano Bussotti, and Douglas Kahn.

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

My father shredding one of my earliest compositions for a bad grade in math.

What was a turning point in your career?

The premiere of my composition, PETROLIO, in 2004 at the American Academy in Rome.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?

I would be a poet.

If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Mussorgsky, Schumann, and Pergolesi.

From a music history perspective, what year and city are most important to you?

New York City in 1961.

What are your most important collaborations?

Lee Ranaldo, Blixa Bargeld, and Ellen Fullman.

What are your academic publications?

Gay Guerrilla: a Minimalist Choralphantasie, Gay Guerrilla, University of Rochester Press, 2015
A Metaphysical Orchestra for the Art of Noises: Researching and Reconstructing the Intonarumori, Art or Sound, Fondazione Prada Books, 2014
Luigi Russolo, Futurist: Noise, Visual Arts and the Occult, University of California Press, 2012

What recordings can we hear you on?

Petrolio, Stradivarius Records
Entomologia, Skank Bloc Records
The Orchestra of Futurist Noise Intoners, 2LP Sub Rosa

What is your unrealized project?

An oratorio-in-progress titled Urlo Impietrato.