His instruments range from cutting edge digital devices to contraptions pieced together from tape recorders and helium balloons. His compositions include solo works for live electronics, the repertoire of his touring ensemble, and works for other ensembles such as the Kronos Quartet. His creative and unorthodox work with digital sampling and recording has established him as an influential pioneer in these media.
Ostertag's collaborators range from avant garders John Zorn and Fred Frith to dyke thrash rocker Lynn Breedlove and heavy metal star Mike Patton, the Kronos Quartet to drag diva Justin Bond. He is the recipient of numerous commissions, from the US National Endowment for the Arts, Austrian State Radio (ORF), Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC), and others. Eleven cd's of his compositions have been released. He has performed throughout North America, Europe, Japan, Australia, and the former Soviet Union.
Bob Ostertag has been at the cutting edge of electronic music since the late 1970s, performing on numerous instruments throughout the United States, Europe and the former Soviet Union. He is well-known for adapting techniques generally used only in recording studios for live performance and improvisation, and most recently has established himself as a pioneer in the use of digital sampling in alternative music.
After a contentious stay at the Oberlin Conservatory and a European Tour with Anthony Braxton's Creative Music Orchestra, he settled in New York City in 1978. He became a key figure in the emerging "downtown" music scene of the period, playing and recording with John Zorn, Fred Frith, Eugene Chadbourne, and others. Following a recording trip to Nicaragua, he left music in the early 1980s to work in Central America. He eventually became an expert on the region, and his writings have been published in the US, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
In 1988 he resumed his musical work. Since then he has released three major recordings for RecRec Music. Attention Span features highly unorthodox collaborations with John Zorn and Fred Frith, while Sooner or Later is developed entirely from a recording of a young Salvadoran boy burying his father and a third recording, Burns Like Fire was released in 1992.
All the Rage was comissioned by the Kronos String Quartet and premiered by the Kronos at the Lincoln Center in New York City to critical acclaim ..
The CD, "SAY NO MORE IN PERSON", was recorded in 1993 by the ORF and released by TRANSIT (and broadcast on KUNSTRADIO) in 1994.
Mr. Ostertag tours frequently. In addition to his solo performances he
leads his own trio, "House on Fire", which features master
percussionist Gerry Hemingway and noted bassist Mark Dresser. He also
plays duos with live film animationist Pierre Hebert, is a regular
member of Ferd Frith's "Keep the Dog", and plays in numerous ad hoc
ensembles. Recently these groups have included Frith, Zorn, Ikue Mori,
Zeena Parkins, Joey Baron, and Christian Marclay.
Sendungen im ORF-Kunstradio:
1. 4. 1993: "Stuck here for a While"
17. 2. 1994: "Say no more in Person"
20. 10. 1994: "Where are your angles"
1. 2. 1996: "Say no more III"
5. 9. 1996: Bob Ostertag bei "Rivers and Bridges"
8. 1. 1998: "Happy Birthday KUNSTRADIO ALLSTARS"
4. 9. 1997: "FAREWELL ETUDE NO.2"
24. 10. 1999: "Where are you angels" - Ein Bob Ostertag SPECIAL
10. 12. 2000: "A Doughut in Four Hands", gemeinsam mit Phil Minton
15. 12. 2002: "Desert Boy on a Stick" von Bob Ostertag
20. 06. 2010: “Creative Life”