Luke Nickel (b. 1988) is an award-winning Canadian interdisciplinary artist and researcher currently living in Bristol, UK. Over the past five years, he has researched and created orally-transmitted experimental music compositions with internationally-established soloists and chamber ensembles such as Mira Benjamin, Heather Roche, Quatuor Bozzini, and EXAUDI. About his work, Jennie Gottschalk writes:
“…there is an unusual quality of rawness. The players are participating in an oral, folkloric tradition without any sense of irony or flippancy.” — Jennie Gottschalk in Experimental Music Since 1970
In addition to these orally-transmitted compositions, he creates traditionally-notated musical works, installations, videos, and spoken performances. Nickel’s works knot together themes of memory, transcription, translation, queer identity, and impossible roller coasters.
Honours include five SOCAN Awards for Young Composers (including first prize for his work Kyrie in the Godrey Rideout category), first prize in the Canadian Music Centre Prairie Region’s Emerging Composer Competition, and a shortlist for the Canadian League of Composers’s ICSM Canadian Selection. He was one of Sound and Music’s New Voices in 2015, and subsequently holds a place in the British Music Collection. In addition, he has received support from organizations such as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Manitoba Arts Council and Sound and Music.
Nickel has received numerous professional commissions. He has worked with soloists such as Heather Roche, Mira Benjamin and Everett Hopfner, and with ensembles such as Continuum, EXAUDI, TAK, the Bozzini Quartet, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. He has also collaborated with galleries and organizations such as the Panoply Performance Laboratory (Brooklyn, NYC), G39 (Cardiff, UK), and Arnolfini (Bristol, UK).
He has recently finished a PhD at Bath Spa University under the direction of James Saunders. During this time, his research focused on new methods of orally-transmitted experimental music creation. Nickel now retains an active career as an independent researcher. Notable publications include Occam Notions: Collaboration and the Performer’s Perspective in Éliane Radigue’s Occam Ocean (Tempo New Music) and Memory Piece (Leonardo Music Journal). Nickel has been invited to give guest lectures at Oxford University, the University of Southampton, Bath Spa University, the University of Manitoba, and at the Canadian Music Centre. Writing about his work can be found in Jennie Gottschalk’s Experimental Music Since 1970, as well as in Tim Rutherford-Johnson’s Unsettling Scores in The Wire Issue 403.
Nickel is also an active curator, and currently co-directs the Cluster: New Music + Integrated Arts Festival in Winnipeg, MB, Canada. Cluster Festival is now entering its eleventh year, and has featured hundreds of interdisciplinary artists from across the world in innovative forms of concert presentation.