Jonathan Pfeffer (B. 1986) is a Philadelphia-based composer, baritone, and multimedia artist operating on the peripheries of contemporary music, DIY punk, and performance art.
Pfeffer’s music variously inspires (The Wire: musical fragments are layered one upon another, resulting as often in dense polyrhythm as they do in deliciously intertwined melodic lines), antagonizes (Pitchfork: ….teases listeners with surprising bits of poppy melody before yanking out the rug) and mystifies (PopMatters: Like a perplexing film you have to (and want to) watch more than once).
As leader of confrontational cubist pop ensemble Capillary Action, Pfeffer has released three full-length albums and toured the globe countless times. He has made appearances at the Willisau Jazz, Primavera, and Incubate festivals, as well as basements, living rooms, kitchens, and illegally occupied warehouse spaces alongside Tony Conrad, Rhys Chatham, Zs, Mike Watt, Les Claypool, and Deerhoof, among others. Pfeffer has also lectured on compositional and philosophical matters for everyone from grad students at Rice University to kindergarteners at Johnson Elementary School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
In addition to composing for film, theatre, and various chamber ensembles, Pfeffer’s main focus is a solo guitar, voice, and video incarnation, which abstracts autobiographical narratives into harmonically and emotionally ambiguous “story-songs.”
In 2012, Pfeffer was commissioned by the American Composers Forum to realize Bodega, a piece for percussionists Ricardo Lagomasino (Deleted Scenes) and Eric Slick (Dr. Dog), synth artist Jeff Zeigler, featuring rappers Lushlife and YIKES the ZERO.
In 2013, Pfeffer was commissioned by Emmy-award winning producer/director Kevin Alexander to compose the music for Hunter&Game, a feature-length mockumentary about a fictitious Brooklyn electro duo (due 2014) and the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage to realize Alektorophobic, a piece for Chicago pianist Julian Chin and New York-based MIVOS Quartet.
As part of their Emerging Composers Partnership, Third Coast Percussion is commissioning Pfeffer to compose a new percussion work for their 2014-15 season.