Composer Denis Nye, 1964-2016
Denis Nye, Co-Founder of Hinge/Works, first studied at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music as a Bass performer, then at the University of Iowa, where he discovered his passion for the art of composition. He went on to study at the University of Chicago and Juilliard in search of his own compositional language.
While in Chicago, he worked with John Cusack’s New Crime Productions theater company, and was the bassist for its award-winning production of Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist, sharing composing credit for what the Chicago Reader called its “Loony Tunes-goes-punk score.” Later, while studying at Juilliard and living in Williamsburg, in New York City, he worked sound at the legendary punk club CBGB’s during its storied 1980s heyday.
Denis moved to Portland in 1994. Here, he has contributed to Portland’s arts scene in countless ways over the past two decades. He was instrumental in the formation of Dead Space Gallery, a venue for local art, music, spoken word, and performance, and was instrumental in the development of the Sacred and Profane, the yearly arts festival in Battery Steele, on Peaks Island. Over the festival’s twenty years, he was on the ground in organizing almost every year, and created many of his own music and installation pieces, including sound stagings of poetry such as Whitman’s “O Captain! My Captain!” and Stevens’ “Man on the Dump.” He also was active in the early years of Shoestring Puppet Theater, when his children were young participants in its puppet works.
Denis created composition and sound for theater works by Acorn Productions Naked Shakespeare, Bare Portland, and Mad Horse Theatre Company, and he scored the short film Carrying Place. His compositions have been performed in Chicago, Minneapolis, LA, and NYC; and he performed his own compositions at the PortFringe Festival and for site-specific installations at many Sacred and Profane festivals.
The brilliance of Denis's ear and the bright, ironic beam of his wit will be missed by many. We and so many artists are grateful to have been able to work with and be in the world with him.