Richard Horowitz is known for creating a unique sonic language by fusing together his roots in classical, jazz and electronic music with the intensity of the trance music he first experienced in Morocco at the age of nineteen. He plays keyboards, percussion and various woodwinds, including the ney, an obliquely blown reed flute. The ney is one of the oldest human wind instruments. He combines a trance inducing circular breathing technique he learned from trance musicians and snake charmers with classical and folk modes known as maquam. Horowitz’s compositions are inspired by the ritual drama of ancient music. He is interested in the microtonal motifs and overtones produced by instruments and voices from the oldest cultures in the world. His compositions are translations that morph ancient sources into the full spectrum resonance of surround sound. Majoun, his collaboration with Sussan Deyhim released by Sony Classical, is a good example.
RH credits include: Golden Globe and Los Angeles Film Critics awards for The Sheltering Sky, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, based on the novel by Paul Bowles. He performed the film music live on François Mitterrand’s television special Etoile Palace in Paris, Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday (BMI Award), Three Seasons directed by Tony Bui and produced by Harvey Keitel (Sundance Jury and Audience awards), Tobruk (Czech Lion Music Awards), Lakota Woman directed by Frank Pierson and produced by Jane Fonda, Intersections directed by David Marconi and produced by Luc Besson, Return to Rajapur starring Justin Theroux, Lynn Collins and Frank Langalla, Zero and Casanegra (Moroccan submission to the Oscars in 2011) directed by Nour-eddine Lakmari, Death for Sale (Moroccan Submission to the Oscars in 2012) directed by Faouzi Bensaidi, L’Atlantide directed by Bob Swaim, starring Jean Rocheford, Tcheky Karyo, Anna Galiena and Fernando Rey, Les Amants de Mogador directed by Souheil Ben Baraka, starring Max von Sydow, Claude Rich, Marie-Christine
Barrault and Fernando Rey.
1968 – 1980 RH lived in Paris and Morocco where he composed and studied Arabic, French, music and Eastern philosophy. He performed throughout Europe with various ensembles including dates with Alan Silva’s Celestial Communications Orchestra in 1971, where he had a chance to perform with Steve Lacey, Anthony Braxton, Robin Kenyatta and Bobby Few.
1969 RH wrote and directed the film The Fourth Person Singular and recorded Oblique Sequences at IRCAM (the Boulez computer music lab in Paris) for Shandar Records. In 1974 he met Brion Gysin and Paul Bowles, both of whom became friends and mentors. In 1982 Bowles recommended him to the American Academy of Arts and Letters for the Goddard Lieberson Composition Award.
1972 – 1979 He studied ney with Kassim Nacishabundi and Louis Soret. They formed the band Ibis Mummy with Abdellatif Kartuma and Gnawa master Brahim el Belkani. He took classes at the Andalusian Music Conservatory in Marrakech and also learned a great deal from ethnomusicologist Phillip Schuyler, who was in Morocco recording Arabic and Berber music for UNESCO. Richard’s daughter, Tamara Alexa, was born in Marrakech in 1977.
1980 He returned to the US and was invited to work with Jan Mattox and Lauren Rush at CCRMA Stanford’s computer music research lab. Here he became interested in a resonant loop program that allowed him to retune the overtones of any sound and place them in a three dimensional virtual space. While in SF he composed and recorded Out of Thin Air and Memoire with SF Symphony principal violinist Daniel Kobialka. He also recorded Eros in Arabia and Never Tech No Foreign Answer on his label Ethnotech in 1982. He worked with SFX designer Frank Serafine on the disc sound for Tron and on Frank’s reel for Star Trek. Another strong influence from that time was Jaron Lanier, who he met at a Harry Partch concert at Mills College in 1981. They have been working
together on and off ever since. (See The Chromataphors)
1982 – 1987 RH performed and recorded with Jon Hassell playing mostly Prophet 5. At that point the band played mostly in Europe and Japan and included Michael Brook and J. A. Dean. He played on three of Hassell’s albums including Powerspot and Surgeon of the Night Sky, produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. He also performed on a David Byrne/Brian Eno piece Blue Flame for Twyla Tharp’s The Catherine Wheel video, and recorded with Suzanne Vega on Days of Open Hand produced by Anton Sanko.
1981 RH began his collaboration with Sussan Deyhim at Noise New York after Frank Eaton, the owner of the studio, heard their individual projects and introduced them. Frank handed them the keys to the studio and suggested they make a record. Azax Attra: Desert Equations, on Crammed Discs was one of the pioneering efforts to create what would later become know as “world music”, drum and bass and triphop. High Performance Magazine described the record as “an electro-ecstatic universe imbued with a sense of ritual and the unknown”. The music was originally written for their first performance opera featuring a gigantic, ten foot long bass speaker in the shape of a datura flower (designed by Jack Weisberg) and a twenty foot long, revolving, pyramid-shaped screen hung from the ceiling (designed by Frederick Lahey). Two 16 mm films were projected on the revolving screen where Deyhim’s dancing on top of the subway grids was
filmed shooting up from the tunnel underneath 79th street. Azax/Attra: Desert Equations was the first in a series of pieces that opened in New York and toured internationally. It was followed by The Ghost of Ibn Sabba and other works, including a ballet X-isle Isle-X for the Hong Kong City Contemporary Dance Company. The piece opened in 1989 in Hong Kong the week of Tiananmen Square and featured Chinese Generals sodomizing Barbie dolls.
Horowitz and Deyhim performed as a duo and with their band, touring in the US, Europe, Japan, and North Africa. They appeared at Town Hall, BAM, The Kitchen, The Knitting Factory, Central Park Summer Stage, La Mama, Merkin Hall Carnegie Hall, The Ravinia Festival, New Music America LA, and Arts Electronica. The band members included Steve Shehan, Jamie Haddad, Eric Sanko, Peter Freeman and Hassan Hakmoun. In 1988, the duo was invited to perform with the Greatful Dead at a special event for Joseph Campbell. Mickey Heart had heard Desert Equations and wanted to play pieces off the CD for the event. They also worked with Heart ghost writing for Max Headroom.
1989 RH started work on The Sheltering Sky in Rome and then in a recording studio in his hotel rooms during the shoot in Morocco. He later collaborated with Ryuichi Sakamoto during post production in London at The Power Station.
1990 After The Sheltering Sky, Horowitz traveled frequently to LA to work on film scores in the early 90s but eventually moved to London with Deyhim in 1992 to work on a CD for Sony Classical. The result was Majoun. “Deyhim’s molten melismas focused by Horowitz’s undulating resonant ether of instrumentation” (The Wire). Majoun was recorded in New York, London, Paris, Los Angeles, Morocco, and Bali. The string section was recorded in Morocco with players from the Moroccan National Radio and Television Orchestra. It featured eerie, hovering violin solos
by Abdellah El Miry and the great Indian violinist Chandru. The CD also featured Doug Wimbish, Jaron Lanier, Byron Wallen, Steve Shehan, Reza Derakshani, and Keith Le Blanc. The Majoun band with Will Calhoun, Reggie Workman, SD, and RH toured mostly in Europe with occasional dates in the US.
One of RH’s most interesting projects was a commission by the Moroccan Royal Cabinet to produce, direct and perform in Ritmos del Futuro Maroc/Seville, the music for the Moroccan National Day at Seville Expo 92. Horowitz invited ten musicians to join him, including Jon Hassell, Loy Erlich, Steve Shehan, and two hundred tribal musicians from ten different tribes of Morocco.
1990 – 1997 Bill Laswell contacted Richard wanting to make a CD in Morocco and asked him what music he thought would be interesting to record. RH said that since Laswell was a bass player, the natural thing to do would be to record the Gnaoua (Gnawa) since their cello range sentir is the origin of the bass. They co-produced Night Spirit Masters in Marrakech for Axiom with liner notes by Paul Bowles. RH was also instrumental in the career of Gnawa musician Hassan Hakmoun during his first ten years in New York. RH performed and recorded with Hakmoun on many CDs including Gift of the Gnawa with Don Cherry and Adam Rudolph. He also arranged and produced Hakmoun’s music recorded by The Kronos Quartet on Pieces of Africa.
Films during the 90s include: L’Atlantide directed by Bob Swaim and starring Tehcky Karyo, Jean Rochefort,
Fernando Rey, and Gunther Maria Halmer, La Thune starring Sami Bouajila, Quattro Bravi Ragazzi directed by Claudio Camarca starring Luigi Maria Burrano, Lakota Woman: Siege At Wounded Knee directed by Frank Pierson and produced by Jane Fonda, Broken Trust directed by Geoffery Sax and starring Tom Selleck, Elizabeth McGovern and William Atherton, Winter Sleepers directed by Tom Tykwer, Drowning on Dry Land directed by Carl Colpaert and starring Barbra Hershey and Naveen Andrews, Three Seasons directed by Toni Bui and starring Harvel Keitel, Ngoc Hiep Nguyen, Ngoc Minh, and Duong Don.
1997 RH founded and art directed The Gnaoua Music Festival in Mogador (Essaouira) Morocco with Neila Tazi and Andre’ Azoulay. The festival is the “Woodstock of Morocco” and now attracts over four hundred thousand people a year. It has helped raise the appreciation for Gnaoua music both inside and outside Morocco. RH first worked with Andre’ Azoulay on a large performance in Mogador for the re-release of Orson Welles’ Othello, filmed in Mogador in 1949.
1998 Returning to New York from London in the late nineties, Richard and Sussan Deyhim were asked to compose The Gift of Love for Deepak Chopra. It was a charity project for Mother Teresa and featured a combination of poets, film stars, and activists reading Rumi. RH worked on many other fundraising projects including films for the NRDC directed by Peter Rodger. He performed with Deyhim at numerous benefits for the Soros Foundation and other charity events in New York, and in The Old Vic and Albert Hall in London.
In the late nineties RH was asked to produce for a group of blonde, Finnish Gipsy singers in Helsinki known as Värttinä for BMG. They created the album Vihma, which won many awards. He was very interested in the group because they sang in the old language of Finland called Karelian – this was the same language that inspired Tolkien to write The Lord of the Rings. He also collaborated with Jaron Lanier on a virtual motion-to-music visual performance, which was performed at MIDEM in Cannes and at The Cyber Theater in Bruxelles.
2001 – 2009 After a two and a half year stint in Hollywood, Horowitz returned to New York to begin a collaboration with Sussan Deyhim, Shirin Neshat, and filmmaker Ghasem Ebrahimianon to create a multimedia opera, Logic of the Birds, co-produced by Lincoln Center, Art Angel in London, The Kitchen, The Walker Art Museum and Change in Europe. It was based on a 12th century text by Attar and starred Deyhim as the female mystic bird known as the Simorgh. There was a film projected by three DVDs on three large screens. A cast of thirty human “birds” in the film also surrounded Deyhim on stage. The music was performed and mixed live in surround by RH. The project toured major theater venues in Europe, with a final performance at the Greek Amphitheater in Syracusa, Sicily.
Films scores include Jihad for Love, Meeting Resistence, Return To Rajapur starring Justin Theroux, Lynn Collins, and Frank Langalla, David and Layla starring David Moscow and Shiva Rose, Casanegra directed by Noureddine Lakmari, L’Atlantide directed by Bob Swaim and starring Jean Rocheford, Tcheky Karyo, Anna Galiena and Fernando Rey, Les Amants de Mogodor directed by Souheil Ben Barka and starring Max von Sydow, Claude Rich, Marie-Christine Barrault and Fernando Rey. RH produced Tcheky Karyo’s CD Ce Lien Qui Nous Unit for Universal France and worked with Sussan Deyhim on various projects including a new opera Zarathustra’s Mother, and some music for SD’s solo show Vocadeliks at UCLA’s Royce Hall. RH also directed and coproduced (with Les Guthman and Charles Annenberg Weingarden) Spiritual India River of Compassion for the Annenberg Foundation about the great masters of Indian Music. RH also scored Annenberg Foundation films shot in China and The Middle East, and both scored and starred in Beautiful Child directed by Fabrizio Chiesa.
2009 – 2011 RH gave talks and performed at Paul Bowles Centennial events in Lisbon, Malaga, Tangier, and The Seville Film Festival, where he is also the head of the doc film jury. RH and Sussan Deyhim performed at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival for the opening and closing nights. They also gave a master class tracing Arab Persian, Indian modes back to the Big Bang, and were part of a three-way televised interview with AR Rachman. Films scores include Skiing Everest directed by Mike Merlot and produced by Les Guthman, Tobruk (winner of a Golden Lion at the Czech Academy award for best music), and Oh My God directed by Peter Rodger.
2012 – 2013 RH is currently producing a new feature documentary film about Moroccan music with Andrew S. Karsch. (Prince of Tides, Money Ball, The Emperors Club) shooting in October. Directed by Jay Bulger (Beware of Mr. Baker). He is working with Sussan Deyhim on The House is Black, a media opera opening at CAP UCLA in 2014. Film Scores include Kajarya directed by Madhureeta Anand, one of the most important Feminist films made in India, Ridden By Nature directed by Kathi Von Koeber, featuring exquisite and tragic Butoh dancing on Alaskan glaciers, Unity directed by Shaun Monsen, Highway directed by Nepalese director Deepak Rauniyar, Zero directed by Moroccan/Finish director Nour-Eddine Lakmari, Death for Sale directed by Faouzi Ben Sadie, and Intersections directed by David Marconi and produced by Luc Besson.
RH collaborators include: Sussan Deyhim, Hassan Hakmoun, Jon Hassell, Branford Marsalis, Hector Zazu, Suzanne Vega, David Byrne, Brion Eno, Dan Lanois, Bill Laswell, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Jaron Lanier, Duncan Shiek, Rufus Wainwright, Cheb I Sabbah, Marius Devries, Steve Shehan, Adam Rudolph, Anton Sanko, Erick Sanko, Daunik Lazro, Loy Erlich, Nickie Skopilitis, Daniel Kobialka, Mickey Hart, Jerry Garcia, Mitch Forman, John Beasley, Reza Derakshani, Abellah El Miry, Naut Human, Alan Silva, Steve Lacy, Anthony Braxton, Hugh Levick, Lauren Rush, Jan Mattox, Adrian Sheerwood, and Jamie Haddad.