Born 1960 in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), lives in New York City.
Musical education (guitar, composition) at the Escola de Música da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and with Rodolfo Cesar in his Estúdio da Glória; then in New York at the Manhattan School of Music and at Columbia University 1992–98 (with Mario Davidovsky and Fred Lerdahl); also at IRCAM (Paris) and with Brian Ferneyhough. Taught at Columbia University 1999–2010, also at the Universidade Estadual Paulista in 2010 (Unesp, São Paulo, Brazil).
Arthur Kampela won the Rodrigo Riera International Guitar Composition Competition (Caracas, Venezuela) in 1995 and the Lamarque-Pons Guitar Composition Competition (Montevideo, Uruguay) in 1998. He has received awards and composition commissions from the New York Philharmonic, the Koussevitzky Foundation, the Fromm Music Foundation, the Rio Arte Foundation and others, as well as fellowships from the Brazilian government and from Columbia University. In June 2006, his piece Antropofagia for electric guitar and 16 musicians was premiered at the World Music Days in Stuttgart. In December 2009, Macunaíma for large ensemble was premiered by the New York Philharmonic New Music Ensemble in New York City.
Arthur Kampela has made significant contributions to performance techniques on his instrument, the guitar, which are particularly expressed in his Percussion Studies. He has also translated these techniques for other instruments, including the viola. As a soloist, Kampela’s stage presence prompted a critic to describe the performance as “clearly the work of a madman ... a Brazilian madman.” In his compositional work, Kampela remains true to this stance; his scores bristle with energy and overflow with intensely detailed intricacies. Stylistically, “serious” music mixes with “popular”, Europe with Latin America, Africa and the rest of the world, acoustic instrumentals with electronic amplification, highly complex rhythmic figures with theatrical actions: “My music navigates between hybridism and complexity.”
For his residency in Berlin, Kampela plans to work on a large-scale work for the Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo (OSESP). True to his polystylistic aesthetic approach, this piece will be organized like a huge game and “multicultural soundclash”. It will feature, among other things, moving groups of musicians and players of instruments from disparate musical cultures.
Photo: Kai Bienert