Collection consists of research materials, subject files, compositions and projects, materials relating to the arts community
and organizations, publicity materials, audiovisual materials and personal papers documenting Joe Catalano’s career as a composer,
performer, and producer.
Joe Catalano was a native of New York State. He was born in Elmira on November 29, 1952 , and most of his early years were
spent in Buffalo. He attended St. Joseph’s Collegiate High School there, received a B.A. in Music at the University of Buffalo,
and obtained his M.A. in Musicology at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He moved to the San Francisco Bay Area
in 1985, as did Wendy Jeanne Burch, and they were married on July 2, 1988 in San Francisco. Catalano was deeply committed
to contemporary music and to the arts community in the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere up to his early death in San Francisco
on May 27, 1998. In addition to his diverse musical activities, he held several posts in branch libraries in the University
of California library system: Biosciences Library (head of serials processing), Astronomy/Mathematics/Statistics Library (operations
manager), and Music Library (circulation supervisor). In this last position, he was leader in the Digital Music Network Project
(which he dubbed “Musilan”), a system of delivering music listening assignments via the network, for which the team won a
Distinguished Service Award in 1997. He was a composer, producer and performer of great versatility and extensive eclectic
inspiration. He wrote music for the concert hall, the theater, film, and gallery spaces, using, among other instruments, piano,
harpsichord, electronic drones and harmonics, sounds of the natural world, harmonic singing, the didjeridu, and an instrument
he invented, the Spirit Stick, which was a bowed, one-string instrument with a little round ceramic drum that he electronically
enhanced in performance with small contact microphones and played with a violin bow and chopsticks. Catalano repeatedly explored
the relation to music of mathematics, geometry and astronomy, and incorporated into his compositions the cosmologies of ancient
or distant cultures. He was drawn to large-scale time structures, the archaeological remains of ancient civilizations, the
enduring natural world, extended geologic periods, and the nature of large bodies of water with their very slow currents in
the deeps; perceptions of these he made available to the listener in site-specific meditative soundscapes or sonic environments,
performances of eight or nine hours. Joe Catalano had also collaborated with his wife, poet and musician Wendy Jeanne Burch.
The couple worked to establish a California chapter of the Pauline Oliveros Foundation, and on November 12, 2000 the Pauline
Oliveros Foundation Bay Area (POFBA) was announced by Oliveros.
Contact the Special Collections Curator, F.W. Olin Library, Mills College, for copyright information and permission to publish.