George E. Lewis is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University. A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, Lewis’s other honors include a MacArthur Fellowship (2002), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2015), a United States Artists Walker Fellowship (2011), an Alpert Award in the Arts (1999), and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Lewis studied composition with Muhal Richard Abrams at the AACM School of Music, and trombone with Dean Hey. A member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971, Lewis’s work in electronic and computer music, computer-based multimedia installations, and notated and improvisative forms is documented on more than 150 recordings. His work has been presented by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonia Orchestra, Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart, Mivos Quartet, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, London Sinfonietta, Spektral Quartet, Talea Ensemble, Dinosaur Annex, Ensemble Dal Niente, Ensemble Pamplemousse, Wet Ink, Ensemble Erik Satie, Eco Ensemble, and others, with commissions from American Composers Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble, Harvestworks, Ensemble Either/Or, Orkestra Futura, Turning Point Ensemble, Studio Dan, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, 2010 Vancouver Cultural Olympiad, IRCAM, Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, and others.

Lewis has served as Fromm Visiting Professor of Music, Harvard University; Ernest Bloch Visiting Professor of Music, University of California, Berkeley; Paul Fromm Composer in Residence, American Academy in Rome; Resident Scholar, Center for Disciplinary Innovation, University of Chicago; and CAC Fitt Artist in Residence, Brown University. Lewis received the 2012 SEAMUS Award from the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States, and his book, A Power Stronger Than Itself:  The AACM and American Experimental Music(University of Chicago Press, 2008) received the American Book Award and the American Musicological Society’s Music in American Culture Award; Lewis was elected to Honorary Membership in the Society in 2016.  Lewis is the co-editor of the two-volume Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies (2016), and his opera Afterword (2015), commissioned by the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at the University of Chicago, has been performed in the United States, United Kingdom, and the Czech Republic.

In 2015, Lewis received the degree of Doctor of Music (DMus, honoris causa)from the University of Edinburgh.  In 2017, Lewis received the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters (PhD, honoris causa) from New College of Florida. In 2017 Lewis received the degree of Doctor of Music from Harvard University.

Professor Lewis came to Columbia in 2004, having previously taught at the University of California, San Diego, Mills College, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Koninklijke Conservatorium Den Haag, and Simon Fraser University’s Contemporary Arts Summer Institute. Lewis studied composition with Muhal Richard Abrams at the AACM School of Music, and trombone with Dean Hey.


    • Lewis, George E., and Benjamin Piekut, ed.  The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies, Vols. 1&2. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.
    • Lewis, George E. A Power Stronger Than Itself:  The AACM and American Experimental Music.  Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 2008.


(Bio Credit: Columbia University, Department of Music)



Tuesday, April 9, 2019
11-12:30PM – Interdisciplinary Improvisation Symposium – “Improvisation as a Way of Life”–
exploring the ways in which the study of improvisation as a practice of everyday life can lead to new models of intelligibility,
agency, ethics, technology, and social transformation
Kopleff Recital Hall

3:30-5:00PM – Open rehearsal with Bent Frequency and composers George Lewis and Alvin Singleton
Kopleff Recital Hall

7:30PM – Bent Frequency presents: Anthem
featuring works by George Lewis, Alvin Singleton, Anahita Abbasi, Eve Beglarian, Colette Coward,
T.J. Anderson, and Emily Koh
Kopleff Recital Hall

Wednesday, April 10, 2019
4:00PM – George Lewis lecture on his book A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music
Troy Moore Library

Thursday, April 11, 2019
9:30-10:45AM – Lecture in Music Society and Culture: relation of the Africobra visual art movement to the music of the period
(late 60s to the present)
Aderhold Learning Center
Room 333

3:30-4:30PM – George Lewis lecture on his music and artistic process. A Composition Seminar
Standard Room 400