Gordon Monahan’s works for piano, loudspeakers, video, kinetic sculpture, and computer-controlled sound environments span various genres from avant-garde concert music to multi-media installation and sound art. As a composer and sound artist, he juxtaposes the quantitative and qualitative aspects of natural acoustical phenomena with elements of media technology, environment, architecture, popular culture, and live performance. The renowned composer John Cage once said, “At the piano, Gordon Monahan produces sounds we haven’t heard before.”
Monahan began performing in public as a member of various rock bands in Ottawa, Canada (1968-73). Since 1978, he has performed and exhibited at numerous concert halls, museums, galleries, and festivals, including Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin), the Venice Biennale, the Secession (Vienna), Haus der Kunst (Munich), MAK Museum (Vienna), The Kitchen (NY), the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), Merkin Hall (NY), and Massey Hall (Toronto). Early in his career, he specialized as a pianist, performing John Cage’s Etudes Australes, and premiering pieces by James Tenney and Udo Kasemets. Over the course of his career, he has worked predominantly in the genre of sound art, while also composing works for traditional instruments.
Monahan is the recipient of a 2013 Governor-General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts. He won First Prize at the 1984 CBC National Radio Competition for Young Composers, as well as commissions from the Vancouver New Music Society, CBC Radio, Dade County Art in Public Places (Miami), The Kitchen (New York), DAAD Inventionen Festival (Berlin), Donaueschinger Musiktage (Germany), Sony Center (Berlin) and bonn-hoeren/Beethoven Foundation (Bonn). His controversial commission for Dade County MetroRail was banned during the 1988 New Music America festival in Miami. That same year, he was chosen as CBC Radio’s entry to the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris. Monahan has been
Artist-in-Residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts (1990), the Exploratorium in San Francisco (1991), DAAD, Berlin (1992-93), the Western Front, Vancouver (1999), Podewil, Berlin (2002), Kunsthalle Krems, Austria (2006), Museumsquartier, Vienna (2008), Warsaw Autumn, Warsaw (2010), bonn-hoeren, Bonn (2016) and a fellow with the New York Foundation for the Arts (1991).
Monahan graduated with a Bachelor of Music from Mount Allison University, Sackville NB (1980).