CalArts Mourns the Loss of Composer, Performer, Artist Arthur Jarvinen

Art Jarvinen

Art Jarvinen, at left, plays a Calder mobile at CalArts in the 1980s. | Photo: CalArts archives

CalArts students, staff and faculty and countless colleagues alike are mourning the loss of composer-performer Arthur (Art) Jarvinen, a longtime faculty member of The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts, who died on Saturday (Oct. 2) in Los Angeles.

Jarvinen made numerous contributions to contemporary and experimental music, perhaps best known in the public arena as a founding and longtime member of the acclaimed California E.A.R. Unit. But to the CalArts community, he will be remembered for his dedication to the Institute, The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts and to his students.

Jarvinen was a student at CalArts, where he studied percussion with John Bergamo, Karen Ervin and Ruth Underwood, and composition with Morton Subotnick, Stephen Mosko and Earle Brown. After graduating with an MFA in Music in 1981, he stayed to teach the next generation of composers and performers.

His current students like Alex Sramek (Music MFA 11) are still in disbelief. “I’m holding onto a shred of hope that this is some elaborate piece of performance art–and that he’ll be in B207 waiting for me Wednesday at 2, ready to identify the hidden flaws in my bizarro compositions, compare notes on fresh produce and jokingly threaten to use me for knife-throwing practice,” said Sramek. “[Art was] one of the few people who I could talk music with in complete honest openness, a combination of insight, bluntness, and deep respect for all aspects of music making.”

Beautiful tribute remembrances have been written by musician-composers Kyle Gann and David Ocker (a fellow CalArts alumnus).

We leave you with an excerpt from Jarvinen’s Gymnopédie for John Lennon (from Satie’s Three Gymnopédies) – violin, piano, vibraphone/crotales.

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