University of North Texas

UNT Insider | October 2013 issue | UNT Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia turns 50

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UNT Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia turns 50

From a UNT News Service press release

Merrill Ellis

Merrill Ellis

In 1963, UNT's College of Music was one of the first in the country to start an electronic music program. Years later, it became the first in the U.S. to offer intermedia as part of its mission.

This year, the Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia (CEMI) celebrates its 50th anniversary. A festival held in early October served as an artistic homecoming for faculty, students, and collaborators past and present to come together and share their recent work.

"It was an opportunity to reflect on the many different people, ideas, and technologies that have shaped CEMI over the years," CEMI Director Andrew May says.

Faculty composer Merrill Ellis established the Electronic Music Center in 1963, one of the first studios of its kind in the U.S. In those early years, the center concentrated on compositions for magnetic tape and live performances using analog synthesizers. In the 1970s, UNT composers increasingly explored "mixed-media" projects -- works that included dancers, actors or narrators, and more elaborate theatrical settings and visual projections. The Intermedia Theater was built in 1979, and by 1981, the center gained worldwide recognition by hosting the seventh annual International Computer Music Conference. In the 1990s, the studios were redesigned to offer more flexible and sophisticated computer workstations.

Today, CEMI students and faculty produce works that explore the frontiers of music and intermedia technology, including interactive computer music, immersive video, sound spatialization, physical computing and much more. The center continues to encourage innovative research and artistic work, May says. CEMI will again host the International Computer Music Conference in 2015.

"The people and the music in CEMI have always had a distinctive character, quite different from any of the studios on the East or West coasts -- above all, a commitment to independent exploration, discovery and experimentation," May says.

About the UNT College of Music

The UNT College of Music is one of the largest and most respected comprehensive music schools in the country. More than 1,600 music students attend UNT each year, participating in more than 50 widely varied ensembles and pursuing specialized studies in performance, composition, music education or music scholarship. UNT faculty members and students have made appearances on the world's finest stages and have produced numerous recordings, many receiving Grammy awards and nominations. Distinguished UNT alumni can be found around the globe and in top music ensembles, opera companies, universities and schools.

Margarita Venegas with the UNT News Service can be reached at


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October 2013

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