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Surge Afrofuturism: Pamela-Z in Concert

Saturday, May 14, 2022 - 7:00pm
Rio Theatre, 205 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062
Presented by: 
Institute of the Arts and Sciences
Music Department

Pamela Z is a world-renowned composer/performer and media artist working with voice, live electronic processing, sampled sound, and video. A pioneer of live digital looping techniques, she processes her voice in real time to create dense, complex sonic layers. Her solo works combine experimental extended vocal techniques, operatic bel canto, found objects, text, and sampled concrète sounds. 

This performance is sponsored by the Institute of the Arts and Sciences for the 2021–2022 Media and Society Lecture Series, Kresge College, and is part of the Surge: Explorations in Afrofuturism series.

Attend in person.
This is an off-campus event.
Free and open to the public.
Registration details to be announced.

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Pamela Z has toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan, performing in international festivals and venues including: Bang on a Can at Lincoln Center (NY); La Biennale di Venezia; San Francisco Symphony’s SoundBox, the Japan Interlink Festival; Other Minds (San Francisco); and Pina Bausch Tanztheater's Festival (Wuppertal, Germany). She has received commissions to compose live and fixed-media scores for choreographers and film/video artists. Her large-scale, performance works, including Memory Trace, Baggage Allowance, Voci, and Gaijin, have been presented at venues like the Kitchen in New York, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Theater Artaud (Z Space) in San Francisco, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, as well as at theaters in Washington, D.C., and Budapest. Her one-act opera, Wunderkabinet, inspired by the Museum of Jurassic Technology (co-composed with Matthew Brubeck), premiered at The LAB in San Francisco, and was presented at REDCAT in L.A. and Open Ears Festival in Canada. She has shown work in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum (New York); Savvy Contemporary (Berlin); the Tang Museum (Saratoga Springs NY); the Dakar Biennale (Sénégal); Krannert Art Museum (IL); and the Kitchen (NY).

Ms. Z has received commissions from chamber ensembles including Kronos Quartet, Eighth Blackbird, Bang On A Can All Stars; Ethel, Del Sol Quartet, California E.A.R. Unit; Left Coast Chamber Ensemble; and Empyrean Ensemble. She is currently composing a work for soprano Julia Bullock and the San Francisco Symphony. She has collaborated with a wide range of artists including Joan La Barbara, Joan Jeanrenaud, Brenda Way (ODC Dance), Miya Masaoka, Jeanne Finley + John Muse, Shinichi Iova Koga (Inkboat), and Luciano Chessa. She has participated in New Music Theatre’s John Cage festivals, and has performed with The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. Her interactive web-based work Baggage Allowance can be viewed at where it is permanently installed.

Pamela Z is the recipient of many honors and awards including the Rome Prize, the United States Artists fellowship, the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Doris Duke Artist Impact Award, a Robert Rauschenberg Foundation residency, the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts; the Creative Capital Fund; the MAP Fund, the ASCAP Music Award; an Ars Electronica honorable mention; and the NEA Japan/U.S. Friendship Commission Fellowship. She holds a music degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. For more information visit:

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​This event is part of Surge: Explorations in Afrofuturism, a multidimensional and transcultural month-long festival on Afrofuturism spearheaded by composer/performer Karlton Hester, choreographer Gerald Casel, and artist Aaron Samuel Mulenga. Afrofuturism is a global artistic and social movement, intent on imagining a world where African-descended peoples and cultures can live and flourish. Surge features music and dance performances, film screenings, and discussions to creatively engage Afrofuturist strategies for liberation and the restructuring of society free of racism.