Alarm Will Sound is a 20-member band committed to innovative performances and recordings of today’s music. They have established a reputation for performing demanding music with energetic skill. Their performances have been described as “equal parts exuberance, nonchalance, and virtuosity” by the Financial Times and as “a triumph of ensemble playing” by the San Francisco Chronicle. The New York Times says that Alarm Will Sound is “one of the most vital and original ensembles on the American music scene.”
The versatility of Alarm Will Sound allows it to take on music from a wide variety of styles. Its repertoire ranges from European to American works, from the arch-modernist to the pop-influenced. Alarm Will Sound has been associated since its inception with composers at the forefront of contemporary music, premiering pieces by John Adams, Steve Reich, David Lang, Michael Gordon, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Aaron Jay Kernis, Augusta Read Thomas, Derek Bermel, Benedict Mason, and Wolfgang Rihm, among others. The group itself includes many composer-performers, which allows for an unusual degree of insight into the creation and performance of new work.
Alarm Will Sound is the resident ensemble at the Mizzou International Composers Festival. Held each July at the University of Missouri in Columbia, the festival features eight world premieres by emerging composers. During the weeklong festival, these composers work closely with Alarm Will Sound and two established guest composers to perform and record their new work.
Alarm Will Sound may be heard on seven recordings. Canzonas Americanas, their release on Cantaloupe features music by Derek Bermel whose eclectic approach draws on the musical traditions of Europe, North and South America, and Africa. Their genre-bending, critically acclaimed Acoustica features live-performance arrangements of music by electronica guru Aphex Twin. This unique project taps the diverse talents within the group, from the many composers who made arrangements of the original tracks, to the experimental approaches developed by the performers.
Alarm Will Sound were Artists-in-Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2013–14.
In 2010, the group developed and performed the Dirty Projectors' The Getty Address in its new identity as a live performance piece at the Lincoln Center, Disney Hall and the Barbican. Music that Dirty Projectors front-man David Longstreth created on a computer by meticulous and complicated sampling, looping, and layering is translated and arranged by Matt Marks, Alan Pierson, and Chris Thompson for 23 musicians of both bands.
In 2011, after three years of development, Alarm Will Sound presented 1969, a multimedia work using music, action, image, and text to tell a story about great musicians—John Lennon, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luciano Berio, and Leonard Bernstein—and their responses the social, political, and creative tumult of the late 1960s.
Members of the ensemble began playing together while studying at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. With diverse experience in composition, improvisation, jazz and popular styles, early music, and world musics, they bring intelligence and a sense of adventure to all their performances.