John Godfrey has been a composer, a performer, and a promoter of contemporary art music for more than 25 years. His praxis deals with composing, performing and listening as inseparable and often homologous acts; he is primarily interested in music in which such distinctions are minor or absent. He mainly composes for musicians with whom he can work closely, the collaborative process being essential to, and to an extent indistinguishable from, the act of composing; similarly, much of Godfrey’s output is in the form of improvisation, in which all three elements act synergistically.
His compositions have been performed in significant venues and broadcast in much of Europe, North America and Australasia. Many appear on CD (labels include Cantaloupe and Decca Argo). He creates music for both instrumental and electronic resources. He has written for a variety of ensembles, including the Bang On A Can All-Stars, Crash Ensemble, Bradyworks, Icebreaker and ‘MMM…’. Current compositional interests include spectral, spatialised and interactive soundscapes; Experimental Music; compositions as inductive performance environments; liminal acoustic events as musical material; and machine intelligence as applied to music.
Godfrey has also been an active professional performer and promoter of New Music since 1989, when he co-founded the cutting-edge group Icebreaker in the UK. In 1997, he became a founding member of Ireland’s Crash Ensemble. In 2008, he established Quiet Music Ensemble, a group dedicated to experimental and improvised music. He has performed in numerous major venues and festivals worldwide. Many of his performances have been broadcast internationally, and are recorded on CD with labels including Nonesuch, Decca, and Cantaloupe. As an improvising musician, he has worked with many of Ireland’s free improvisors and Sound Artists and performed with renowned exponents such as Pauline Oliveros and David Toop.
Godfrey has directed numerous New Music events. 2008’s 4-day Quiet Music Festival was dedicated to Experimental Music and featured appearances and new pieces from many of the world’s leading figures in the genre. In 2012, he curated a major celebration of the late work of John Cage, in association with RTÉ lyric fm and Triskel Arts Centre, Cork.
Godfrey has been a lecturer at University College Cork since 1992, where his specialist areas include composition, performance, history and aesthetics of contemporary music, and music technology.