French composer based in Iowa, Jean-François Charles is also a clarinetist and live electronics designer. He creates at the crossroads of music and technology, as in the collaborative soundtrack to Dziga Vertov's movie The Eleventh Year (with Nicolas Sidoroff and four other musicians, 2015) or in his musical chemistry work with Scientific Glassblower Benj Revis (Aqua ignis, 2018). His opera Grant Wood in Paris was commissioned by the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre and premiered April 12-14, 2019.
As a clarinetist, he has performed with classical, jazz, and other sound artists, from Maurice Merle to Douglas Ewart or Gozo Yoshimasu. He worked with Karlheinz Stockhausen for the world première of Rechter Augenbrauentanz (Stockhausen-Verlag CD #59). His album Electroclarinet was awarded prizes at the Global Music Awards in both categories Contemporary Classical Album and Composition/Composer. The music was reviewed as full of drama and drive (Dolf Mulder, Vital Weekly) or colorful and jazzy, giving the listener a plethora of timbral explosions (Lori Ardovino, The Clarinet Journal).
He studied at the National Institute for Applied Sciences (INSA) in Lyon, then at the Strasbourg Conservatory with Italian composer Ivan Fedele and clarinetist Armand Angster. He earned his Ph.D. in music composition at Harvard, where he studied with Hans Tutschku, Chaya Czernowin, Julian Anderson, Michael Gandolfi, Helmut Lachenmann, and Gunther Schuller. His article A Tutorial on Spectral Sound Processing using Max/MSP and Jitter published in the Computer Music Journal has helped many electronic musicians integrate spectral sound processing into live performances, compositions, or their own software creations.
After serving as deputy director at the Montbéliard Conservatory then Brest Conservatory (France), he joined in 2016 the School of Music at the University of Iowa as Assistant Professor in Composition and Digital Arts.