Hollis Taylor was born in the United States and has been an Australian resident since 2002. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy in musicology, composition, and ornithology from the University of Western Sydney.
The American Center in Paris awarded her a two–year residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts for 1993–94. While based in Paris, she performed and recorded jazz and folk music throughout Europe. Her violin playing is featured in two Gus Van Sant films, My Own Private Idaho and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, and she scored music for two Penny Allen films, Paydirt and The Soldier’s Tale. She is the author of six volumes of American fiddle transcriptions and arrangements and regularly contributes in–depth articles, interviews, and music criticism to Strings, Stringendo, and Fiddler magazines.
As a composer, Taylor blurs the lines between classical, jazz, and folk. Her works for strings focus on issues of rhythm and bowing, from dance forms and unusual meters to how classical players can appropriate extended techniques from non–traditional styles of music to enhance their rhythmic vitality, swing, and musicality. European folk music in compound meter inspired Unsquare Dances (1995), composed during a year's residence in Budapest. Trail Mix for Five Scordatura Violins was the 2000 First Prize winner in the National League of American PEN Women. Box Set, the product of a 1997 artist's residency at Altos de Chavon in the Dominican Republic, is Taylor's re–take of J. S. Bach’s Solo Violin Partita in B minor; it betrays Afro–Cuban, bebop, blues, and funk sensibilities.
In 2000, she received grants from the American Composers Forum, Meet the Composer, and the Portland Baroque Orchestra to write Groove Theory, a violin concerto for British Baroque violinist Monica Huggett. Elements Quartet (New York City) commissioned a string quartet, which was debuted at Lincoln Center, and the string quartet Ethel regularly tours with several of her pieces. She has produced three radiophonic works for ABC Radio National, Sydney.
Taylor's sound/video installation Great Fences of Australia, in collaboration with partner Jon Rose, has seen numerous international performances and was recently taken up by Kronos Quartet. The book/DVD set Post Impressions: A Travel Book for Tragic Intellectuals documents her and Rose as cartographers making a sonic map of the continent’s iconic fences.
Taylor lectures on “The Music of Nature and the Nature of Music,” which is fed by her regular fieldwork documenting pied butcherbirds, lyrebirds, and bowerbirds. Her portfolio of compositions based on pied butcherbird vocalisations won the APRA award at the University of Western Sydney in 2008, and all current compositions take their song into account. She premiered works for violin and field recordings at Violinale 2009 in Berlin.
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