Keith Potter is a Professor of Music at Goldsmiths, where he was Head of Department in 2004-07. He studied at the University of Birmingham, University College Cardiff and the University of York. Dissertations on Roberto Gerhard and Morton Feldman, plus several published articles on these composers, have been followed by a range of research and publications covering many different areas of contemporary music, with a particular emphasis on British and American work. Active as both musicologist and music journalist, he was the co-founder and, for seventeen years, Chief Editor of Contact: a Journal of Contemporary Music, the 34 issues of which will be republished online in 2018. For a decade, he was a regular music critic on The Independent daily newspaper; he currently writes programme notes and profiles for the BBC and reviews for Opera and Tempo magazines.
Keith Potter’s book, Four Musical Minimalists: La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass (Cambridge University Press), was published in 2000, with a paperback edition in 2002; The Ashgate Research Companion to Minimalist and Postminimalist Music, co-edited with Kyle Gann and Pwyll ap Sion (Ashgate Publishing), appeared in 2013. Recent research on the American composer, Steve Reich (arising in particular from his extensive work in the Reich collection at the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basel, Switzerland), has appeared in Tonality Since 1950 (Franz Steiner Verlag) and the journal, Contemporary Music Review.
In 2010-13, he collaborated with colleagues from the Departments of Computing and Psychology at Goldsmiths, and from the Department of Electronic Engineering at Queen Mary College, University of London, on a project on information and neural dynamics in the perception of musical structure, including particular reference to minimalist musical compositions. Outcomes of this collaborative project, involving music by Glass as well as Reich, have recently been published in Music and/as Process (Cambridge Scholars Publishing) and the journal, Time and Time Perception. Papers and articles from this project are still appearing in various journals: see also Publications, below.
Keith Potter’s own recent conference and seminar papers have focused mainly on Reich. These include presentations on Drumming (Paul Sacher Stiftung, Basel, Switzerland, 2010); on It’s Gonna Rain, with John Pymm (Fifth Biennial International Conference on Music Since 1900 at the University of Lancaster, and the Third Biennial International Conference on Music and Minimalism at the University of Leuven, Belgium, both 2011; Cardiff University, Wales, 2013; and Goldsmiths, 2014); on Triple Quartet (Fourth Biennial International Conference on Music and Minimalism at California State University at Long Beach, 2013; and at the conference, “Tonality Since 1950”, at the University of Basel, Switzerland, 2014); a keynote lecture on Reich reception (for a Study Day at King’s Place, London organised by the Society for Minimalist Music, 2015); Music for 18 Musicians (Fifth Biennial International Conference on Music and Minimalism at the University of Turku and the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, Finland, 2015; the 52nd Annual Conference of the Royal Musical Association, at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, 2016; and at the conference, “Ligeti: a portrait with Reich and Riley”, at the University of Cluj, Romania, 2018); on Come Out and Three Tales (the opening keynote lecture at the conference, “Minimalism: Location, Aspect, Moment”, at Winchester School of Art/University of Southampton, 2016); and on Tehillim (“What You Need To Know – Steve Reich”, a Study Day at the South Bank Centre, London, 2017).
Other invited lectures and appearances since 2005 include a paper on aspects of musical minimalism at the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, and two lectures on the music of Steve Reich and participation in a roundtable discussion at Carnegie Hall, New York (both 2006); the opening keynote lecture at the First Biennial International Conference on Music and Minimalism at the University of Bangor, Wales, and a pre-concert talk (with Robert Worby) on Philip Glass's Music in Twelve Parts at the Barbican Centre, London (both 2007); a pre-performance interview with the conductor Dennis Russell Davies, at the Barbican Centre, London (2009); papers on Phill Niblock as well as Steve Reich at all the Biennial International Conferences on Music and Minimalism during 2009-15; and a pre-concert talk on John Adams’ music at the Vale of Glamorgan Festival, Wales (2017).
In 1989 Keith Potter taught at the University of Redlands, California. He developed the pioneering MMus (later MA) in Contemporary Music Studies, which has been offered at Goldsmiths since 1998. He was organiser of the Second Biennial International Conference on Twentieth-Century Music (Goldsmiths, 2001) and co-organiser of several other conferences at Goldsmiths, including a one-day event to celebrate and commemorate the British composer Cornelius Cardew (2006), and a one-day conference focusing on the performance of minimalist music (2008).
From 2004 to 2007, he was a member of Goldsmiths Council. In 2006-10, he was on the Advisory Council of the Institute of Musical Research in the School of Advanced Study, University of London. In 2007-13, he served on the Goldsmiths Honorary Degrees and Fellowships Committee; and in 2011-17, on the Academic Progress Committee.
Since 1982, he has been a trustee of the Hinrichsen Foundation, also serving on several of its sub-committees, and acting as its Chair (2014-16). A founding committee member of the Society for Minimalist Music in 2007, he was its Chair during 2011-13.
Areas of supervision
British and American contemporary music; American minimalist music, especially Steve Reich.
Current and recently completed PhD Students
Paul Gilgunn: Distillation and synthesis: aesthetics and practice in Rhys Chatham’s music for electric guitar
Paul Kean (Performance Pathway): Virtuosity in the art of minimalism (American minimalist and postminimalist music for solo piano)
Anastasios Mavroudis (Performance Pathway): Yorgos Sicilianos: performing his chamber music and Violin Concerto
Maria Yerosimou: Jani Christou's music-theatre work, Strychnine Lady: contexts, aesthetics and analysis