Paul Nash (1948-2005) was a gifted composer with an original voice. When Nash lost his battle with brain cancer in 2005, the world lost a visionary with a unique harmonic sense and a passion for infectious, driving rhythms. His music reflects a restless commitment to musical experimentation—integrating by turns the sound worlds of jazz, classical, and rock through his own personal synthesis.
A Bronx native, Nash earned B.M. and M.A. degrees in music composition from the Berklee College of Music in Boston and Mills College in Oakland (CA), respectively. In 1977, he created the 10-piece Paul Nash Ensemble in San Francisco. The group included trumpeter Mark Isham who, influenced by Nash’s genre of morphing ideas, created New Age music for Windham Hill Records and become a Grammy and Academy Award nominated soundtrack composer. Nash also helped to organize the Bay Area Jazz Composers Orchestra, an ensemble that explored the merging of jazz and classical music.
In 1990, he returned to New York and founded Manhattan New Music Project, bringing together various new music performers, including French horn innovator Tom Varner, and unsung guitar great Vic Juris. Under the MNMP umbrella, Nash wrote chamber music, orchestral pieces and playful avant garde compositions inspired by John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
Nash began a new musical direction with the creation of site-specific musical work, culminating in a series of performances in New York City parks. Still Sounds Run Deep deploys musicians around public spaces and provides for interactivity with ambient sounds and the rhythms of passersby. Passionate about music education, Nash simultaneously worked to establish Manhattan New Music Project as a reputable arts-in-education organization, recruiting a strong roster of teaching artists and developing educational partnerships.
Grants and fellowships have served as a vital support for Nash’s work, coming from sources such as the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Jerome Foundation, the Banff Center for the Arts, Yaddo, Meet the Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, the University of California at Berkeley, the MacDowell Colony, and the Djerassi Foundation.