McFarlin portrait Charles ShereBio: Charles Shere   homepage    résumé   list of compositions

Charles Shere was born in Berkeley, California, in 1935, and grew up there and on a small farm in Sonoma county, where he attended high school. He studied music and English literature at Chapman College, Santa Rosa Junior College, San Francisco State University, and the University of California at Berkeley, where he graduated cum laude in 1960. He also studied composition with Luciano Berio at Mills College and with Robert Erickson privately and at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and conducting privately with Gerhard Samuel.

He was music director at KPFA-fm, Berkeley, 1964-67; announcer, critic, director, and producer at KQED-tv, San Francisco, 1967-1972; lecturer in music at Mills College, Oakland, 1973-1984; and art and music critic at the Oakland Tribune, 1972-1988. He was the founding editor and publisher of Ear, the west coast new-music tabloid, 1973-78, and has published four books: Even Recent Cultural History (Hanover, New Hampshire: Frog Peak Music, 1995); Thinking Sound Music: the Life and Work of Robert Erickson (Berkeley: Fallen Leaf Press, 1996); Everbest Ever: Correspondence with Bay Area Friends (as editor and joint author with Virgil Thomson and Margery Tede)(Berkeley: Fallen Leaf Press, 1996); and Why I Read Stein (Oakland: Mills College Center for the Book, 2002).

His music includes concertos for piano and for violin, performed at the Cabrillo Music Festival in 1965 and 1990; Nightmusic for orchestra (1967), premiered and recorded by Kent Nagano and the Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra in 1982; a Symphony in Three Movements performed by Kent Nagano and the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra in 1989; Tongues, for poet speaking in tongues and chamber orchestra (Andrew Hoyem and the Arch Ensemble, 1978 and 1980); two chamber operas to texts by Gertrude Stein commissioned by the Noh Oratorio Society: Ladies Voices (1987) and I Like It to Be a Play (1989); another to words by Marcel Duchamp premiered by John Adams and the San Francisco Conservatory New Music Ensemble: The Box of 1914 (1980); the full-length Duchamp opera The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (1986), parts of which were staged at Mills College in 1984; and numerous solo and chamber pieces including two pieces requested by the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players: Certain Phenomena of Sound for soprano and violin (1983), to Wallace Stevens poems, and Bride Arias for soprano, violin, piano, and snare drum (1986), assembled from the Duchamp opera.

Eclectic though fundamentally within the European-American concert tradition, Shere's music includes graphic and standard notation, open and closed forms, and tonal and non-tonal harmonic language. It is influenced by the examples of Ives, Webern, early Stockhausen, Thomson, and Cage; but also by procedures of Duchamp, Stein, and Joyce.

After living many years in Berkeley, where his wife Lindsey Remolif Shere was pastry chef of Chez Panisse, the restaurant they own with Alice Waters and other participants, he has retired to Sonoma county, where he has built a house in the country. He has three grown children and eight grandchildren, and counts reading, travel, food and drink among his greatest enthusiasms. He is currently completing What Happened A Play, a third chamber opera to Stein; a set of interludes to Carl Rakosiís cycle The Old Poetís Tale; and Composition as Explanation, a setting of the Gertrude Stein lecture for solo piano and speaking voice.

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rev: 9/15/00