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Theodor Raoul Bleckmann is a German singer and composer.
Theodor Raoul Bleckmann (born 28 May 1966) is a German singer and composer.
Bleckmann was born in Dortmund, West Germany. He planned to be an ice skater before becoming a vocalist. In 1989 he moved to New York City and recorded his first two albums, Theo & Kirk (1992) and Looking Glass River (1995) with Kirk Nurock. His mentor was Sheila Jordan, and he appeared on her album Jazz Child (1999).With guitarist Ben Monder he recorded his first solo album, Origami (2001), an album of impressionistic vocalese and lyrics sung in German and French.He collaborated with pianist Fumio Yasuda on the albums Las Vegas Rhapsody: The Night They Invented Champagne (2006), Berlin – Songs of Love and War, Peace and Exile (2007), and Schumann's Favored Bar Songs (2009). The last album received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Classical Crossover Album.He was given the Echo Jazz award for I Dwell in Possibility (Winter & Winter, 2010). The album was inspired by the Arte Povera, the Italian art movement in the 1960s that created installations with the simplest materials. In making the album Beckman used music boxes, megaphones, autoharp, glasses, water, shruti, and toys.
Bleckmann's second collaboration with Yusada was an extension of his love for music from his native Germany, concerning the themes of love, war, and peace. The repertoire consisted of works by composers Hanns Eisler, Kurt Weill, Kristian Schultze with Bertolt Brecht providing much of the texts.In 2010, he recorded an album as the group Moss with vocalists Peter Eldridge, Lauren Kinhan, Kate McGarry, and Luciana Souza.With the jazz rock group Kneebody he recorded an album of unorthodox arrangements of compositions by Charles Ives. Four years later he recorded an album songs written by pop singer Kate Bush with drummer John Hollenbeck, bassist Skuli Sverrisson, keyboardist Henry Hey, and Caleb Burhans on viola and guitar.
He has worked with Laurie Anderson, Anthony Braxton, Steve Coleman, Dave Douglas, Philip Glass, Michael Tilson Thomas, John Zorn, and the Bang on a Can All-Stars. He was a guest vocalist with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Estonian Radio Choir, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, and Mark Morris Dance. For fifteen years he was a member of an ensemble led by Meredith Monk.
Bleckmann's multidisciplinary works include a commission by the Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris to compose and create a music performance piece out of Kenneth Goldsmith's text Fidget, which Bleckmann scored for voice, piano, percussion, bass, video and three sewing machines. In real time, four seamstresses sewed a paper suit out of the hundreds of sheets of paper that were Bleckmann's libretto.
In collaboration with performance artist Lynn Book, he created Mercuria (produced by the Whitney Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago), incorporating visual and vocal elements of dream and subconsciousness into an evening-length performance piece.
Playing the gangster Dutch Schultz, Bleckmann co-created The True Last Words of Dutch Schultz a new music opera in collaboration with director Valeria Vasilevski and composer Eric Salzman.
As a sound improviser, he has performed, created and developed movie, television, and theater scores, among them an alleged space Alien language for Men in Black by Steven Spielberg, Star Trek: Envoy (Meredith Monk) and Kundun (Philip Glass)
Bleckmann sang in John Moran's Book of the Dead at The Public Theater in New York, performed a lead in Bang on a Can's Obie Award-winning opera Carbon Copy Building, and frequently appears as a soloist with The Bang on a Can All-Stars.
In collaboration with director Laurie McCants and set designer Elaine F. Williams, he wrote the music and performed The Alexandria Carry On, which has been traveling the US and was performed at the actual library in Alexandria, Egypt.
Grammy Award nomination, Best Classical Crossover Album, 2010
Echo Jazz Award, Best Singer of the Year, 2010
Bessie Award, Presser Award for Outstanding Talent
ASCAP/Gershwin Award for "Chorale No. 1 for Eight Voices"
Theo & Kirk (Traumton, 1993)
Looking Glass River (Traumton, 1995)
No Boat (Songlines, 1997)
Static Still (GPE, 2000)
Origami (Songlines, 2001)
Anteroom (Traumton, 2005)
Las Vegas Rhapsody (Winter & Winter, 2006)
Berlin (Winter & Winter, 2007)
At Night (Songlines, 2007)
Twelve Songs by Charles Ives (Winter & Winter, 2008)
I Dwell in Possibility (Winter & Winter, 2010)
Hello Earth! (Winter & Winter, 2011)
Elegy (ECM, 2017)
Ambrose Akinmusire, The Imagined Savior Is Far Easier to Paint (Blue Note, 2014)
Gabriel Garzon-Montano, Aguita (Jagjaguwar, 2020)
John Hollenbeck, Quartet Lucy (CRI, 2002)
John Hollenbeck, Joys & Desires (Intuition, 2005)
Jennifer Kimball, Veering from the Wave (Imaginary Road, 1998)
Meredith Monk, Impermanence (ECM, 2008)
Michael Wollny, Weltentraum (ACT, 2014)
Terry Gross interviews Theo Bleckmann
Tangled in A Dreamscape with Friends in Tow, The New York Times review, 23 September 2010