Arthur Campela
Arthur Campela


November 2001

Arthur  Campela  

composer, guitarist

Arthur Kampela (b. 1960 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), winner of the 1995 International Guitar Composition Competition (Caracas, Venezuela) and winner of the 1998 Lamarque-Pons Guitar Composition Competition (Montevideo, Uruguay), is internationally recognized both as composer and virtuoso guitar player. He has received commissions and awards, from the New York Philharmonic, the Koussevitzky Foundation, Fromm Music Foundation Rio Arte Foundation and fellowships from the Brazilian Government (CNPq) and Columbia University, among others.            

Kampela has broken new ground in two particular ways: first, in his native country he has fused popular and vernacular styles with contemporary textural techniques.  His 1988 CD "Epic..." uses popular music forms deconstructing samba, jazz, musical theater, with new music resources creating a true hybrid genre. Second, working with new extended techniques for acoustic instruments. In his series of "Percussion Studies" for solo guitar, Kampela has created an entirely new playing technique which he extended to many acoustic instruments. His "Tapping Technique" exploits timbre, pitch, texture and complex rhythmic designs where ergonomic considerations take a prominent thematic role.

Some recent achievements include: Premiere of "Happy Days," for flute and electronics at the Slam Festival in Seattle; "Elastics II" for flutes, guitar and electro-acoustic sounds and "Percussion Study V" for viola alla chitarra" and electroacoustic sounds at the Museu of Modern Art of Strasbourg, France by the Linea Ensemble; Premiere of "Antropofagia" at the ISCM 2006 (World Music Days) by the Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin and Wiek Hijmans on electric guitar. Presentation of "Layers..." and "Exoskeleton" by the Linea Ensemble, from Strasbourg in their "Champs Libres" series (2006) in a "Kagel - Globokar - Kampela" program; Debut of “Percussion Study IV” for solo viola (played “alla chitara”); "KLANG," trio for Bass clarinet, harp and percussion played by Speculum at Merkin Hall NYC; Series of concerts/shows with his new music band at Schwaz (Austria), Strasbourg, Satalla and The Cutting Room (NYC), Escritório de Música (São Paulo), Morelia Guitar Festival and UNAM (Mexico) among other places; Festival Archipell in Switzerland with his piece "Quimbanda" for electric guitar; "Sonidos de las Americas" at Carnegie Hall, NYC ; guest composer for the "AVANTI" Ensemble, Helsinki; Helsinki Biennial with Bridges" for viola played by Paul Silverthorne; "Phalanges" for harp solo by Anne Bassand at the 'Kammermusiksaal des Kongresshauses', Zurich; Festivals 'Synthese' (Switzerland), 'Aquila'(Italy) and at the 'ICMC' (Canada) with his piece "TEXTORIAS" for computer-generated guitar, etc. 

Kampela's works have been performed in the leading forums for Contemporary music in South-America, Europe, Asia and the USA. His pieces where recorded by many interpreters of new music. Most recently, pianist Pianist Jenny Lin recorded his piano 'tour-de-force' "Nosturnos" opening her CD "The Eleventh Finger" released by Koch label. Locally, Kampela's compositions have been performed at Weill Hall (part of Carnegie Hall), Merkin Concert Hall, Miller Theater, Mannes College, 92nd Street Y, Americas Society, and at local underground clubs and spaces such as Satalla, The Cutting Room, Cornelia Street Café, etc.  He has toured extensively with his band playing in places as diverse as Mexico City, São Paulo, Strasbourg and most recently at the Outreach Festival, in Schwaz, Austria. 

Today in New York, Kampela is also regarded as a Dionysian performer: in his review of Kampela's performance at the 92nd Street Y, Tim Brookes stated, "[Kampela] played the most avant-garde music of the show,using tapping effects, using a spoon, playing with the strings bent off the side of the fingerboard: one of the pieces ended with a noise that sounded like a Geiger counter...he never lost a sense of joy, of surprise or that infectious rhythm.  It was clearly the work of a madman...a Brazilian madman." 

In 1998, Kampela received a doctorate in composition from Columbia University, studying with Mario Davidovsky and Fred Lerdahl. In 1993, he received private lessons from the British composer Brian Ferneyhough.  In many of his pieces, Kampela employs new extended techniques for acoustic instruments and micro-metric modulation -- a rhythmic system he devised (after Carter and Cowell) to bridge complex rhythmic relationships. A recent DMA graduate from CUNY, Graziela Bortz, wrote her dissertation (“Rhythm in the Music of Brian Ferneyhough, Michael Finissy and Arthur Kampela: A Guide for Performers.” CUNY, 2003”) based on Kampela's theory (and music) in order to analyze the rhythmic strata of her thesis' subjects.

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