Since 1990 Mark Applebaum has built electroacoustic instruments out of junk, hardware, and found objects for use as both compositional and improvisational tools. He is the Associate Professor of Composition and Theory at Stanford, where he served as John Philip Coghlan Fellow and received the 2003 Walter J. Gores Award for excellence in teaching. He received his Ph.D. in composition from the University of California at San Diego where he studied principally with Brian Ferneyhough.
His solo, chamber, choral, orchestral, operatic, and electroacoustic work has been performed throughout the North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia with notable performances at the Darmstadt summer sessions, ICMC in Beijing and Singapore, the TRANSIT Festival in Belgium, Stockholm New Music, the American Composers Orchestra’s OrchestraTech, the Unyazi Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sonorities in Belfast, Sonic Circuits in Hong Kong, SIGGRAPH in Los Angeles, the Essl Museum in Vienna, the Kennedy Center, at Electronic Music Midwest where served as the 2002 visiting artist, as featured composer at the 2004 University of Michigan Eclectronica Microfestival, and as featured composer at the 61st Festival of Contemporary Music at Louisiana State University.
He has received commissions from Betty Freeman, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, the Fromm Foundation, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, the Vienna Modern Festival, Antwerp’s Champ D’Action, Festival ADEvantgarde in Munich, Zeitgeist, MANUFACTURE (Tokyo), the St. Lawrence String Quartet, the Jerome Foundation, and the American Composers Forum, among others. In 1997 Applebaum received the American Music Center’s Stephen Albert Award and an artist residency fellowship at the Villa Montalvo artist colony in Northern California.
Applebaum's Mousetrap Music (1996) and The Bible without God (2005), CDs of sound-sculpture improvisations can be heard on the Innova label. Also on Innova is The Janus ReMixes: Exercises in Auto-Plundering, a CD of eleven electronic works whose source material corresponds exclusively to recordings of the eleven acoustic compositions that constitute his Janus Cycle (1992-1996), as well as Intellectual Property, a CD of hybrid acoustic and electronic works. His orchestral music can be heard on the Innova CD Martian Anthropology; solo pieces appear on the Innova CD Disciplines; and chamber works appear on the Innova CDs 56 1/2 ft. and Asylum, and Sock Monkey, and on the Tzadik CD Catfish.
Many of his pieces are characterized by challenges to the conventional boundaries of musical ontology: works for three conductors and no players, a concerto for florist and orchestra, pieces for instruments made of junk, notational specifications that appear on the faces of custom wristwatches, works for an invented sign language choreographed to sound, amplified Dadaist rituals, a chamber work comprised of obsessive page turns, and a 72-foot long graphic score displayed in a museum and accompanied by no instructions for its interpretation.