“Nolan Gasser is a remarkably gifted composer, pianist, and arranger; he is a mass of music: classical, jazz, rock, blues… he never fails to blow my mind.”
Joel Selvin, Senior Music Critic, San Francisco Chronicle
Nolan Gasser is a critically acclaimed composer, pianist, and musicologist – most notably, the architect of Pandora Radio’s Music Genome Project and the company’s chief musicologist from its founding in 1999. His original compositions are performed frequently, and in such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Alice Tully Hall, La Salle Pleyel (Paris), and the Rose Bowl (Pasadena), among many others. Key current projects include an opera, The Secret Garden, commissioned by San Francisco Opera (premiered March 1, 2013), a musical, Benny and Joon, in partnership with H2H Productions and MGM On Stage, a film score for the Lance Kinsey film, All-Stars (which is currently tearing it up in the film festival circuit), and a forthcoming book, Why You Like It: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste (Macmillan Press, 2016). Nolan is also the subject of a documentary for the ESPN-FiveThirtyEight series, The Collectors, entitled “Breaking Music Down to Its Genes”, which was released in May 2015.
Among recent composition triumphs, his Repast: An Oratorio in Honor of Mister Booker Wright, commissioned by the University of Mississippi and pianist Bruce Levingston, was premiered in Oxford Mississippi in October 2014, was featured in an NPR story the following Thanksgiving weekend, and will be performed at Carnegie Hall in April 2016 (among other venues); his opera, The Secret Garden (commissioned and premiered by SF Opera to rave reviews), held its East Coast premiere with Opera Theater of Weston (Vermont) in January 2015, with numerous performances (Houston, Milwaukee, etc.) scheduled through 2017; Nolan recently contributed to the choral / chamber work Tyler’s Suite (along with composers John Corigliano, Jake Heggie, Stephen Schwartz), which premiered at Davies Symphony Hall in March 2014, with subsequent performances in LA, Seattle, and New York; his Sonoma Overture was premiered to glowing reviews at the opening of the new Green Music Center in Sonoma County, CA.
Cosmic Reflection: A Narrated Symphony – the second commission associated with NASA’s Fermi mission (depicting the entire history of the Universe) received its premiere at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.; it was recently performed (May 2015) at Stanford University, as part of its “Imagining the Universe” project. The work has been recorded by the Baltimore Symphony and will be released in the near future on Naxos Records; a full-length, professional video is also in the works.
Nolan’s musical Benny & Joon will enter workshop in early fall 2015, with two productions (NY, off-Broadway and Chicago) scheduled in 2016.Outside of composition, Dr. Gasser is the chief musical architect of the Music Genome Project, the musical technology behind Pandora Radio – now with over 250 million subscribers in the US alone. He lectures widely at various public and private forums on the nature of musical taste and the intersection of music and science—with an upcoming TEDx talk in November 2015. Dr. Gasser is also overseeing the Impact Genome Project for the Chicago-based company Mission Measurement. He received his Ph.D. in Musicology from Stanford University, where he has been an Adjunct Professor in Medieval–Renaissance Music History. As a pianist, Dr. Gasser performs and records as a soloist, with his own jazz quartet – the San Francisco Jazz Quartet, and with such marquee artist as Steve Miller. He studied composition in Paris (and Fontainebleau) with Betsy Jolas, Gilbert Amy, and Tristan Murail; at NYU with Menachem Zur; and at CSU, Northridge with Aurelio de la Vega. He lives with his wife and two children in Petaluma, CA