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Ross Bolleter (born 1946, Subiaco, Western Australia) is an Australian Zen Buddhist teacher of the Diamond Sangha tradition, as well as an avantgarde composer and improviser notable for his experimentation on ruined pianos. He teaches at the Zen Group of Western Australia, has been a member of The Blackeyed Susans and he is a co-founder of the WARPS Music label.
Career and music
Bolleter started his career by practicing improvised music with the flautist Tos Mahoney. He later went to study music, including theory, history and composition, at the University of Western Australia, between 1964 to 1967. This re-awoke his interest in the music of composers such as Anton Webern, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez, whom he had studied as part of his course. He then went investigating non-conventional timbral and rhythmic possibilities of the prepared piano.
Bolleter is primarily interested in improvisation, both as a solo player and in group work. Although he has composed some pieces formally, he feels little interest in having pieces recreated by other performers.
In the last 10 years Bolleter has explored playing with ruined pianos, that is old pianos that have been found after having been left exposed to the action of time and weather, thus acquiring novel and unexpected musical possibilities. The pianos also appeal to Bolleter as they demonstrate the principle of inevitable decay, something which is also emphasised in Buddhist teaching on impermanence. He has been involved in public installations as well as a "piano graveyard" near the town of York.
Ross in the distant past played piano in restaurants and bars, but for some time has worked as a piano teacher. In 2009 he was invited to participate in Tasmania's Ten Days On The Island festival, and his ruined piano installations were very successful. Ross recently published a book of poetry, and is completing another on Zen spirituality. He is divorced from his wife, but they still maintain a strong bond due to their two children.
- My Nallan Void on Austral Voices (New Albion, 1990)
- The Country of Here Below Tall Poppies (1994)
- Crow Country (Pogus, 1999)
- Left Hand of the Universe (WARPS 1997)
- The Night Moves on Little Feet (WARPS 1997)
- Piano Dreaming (WARPS 2002)
- Pocket Sky (WARPS 2004)
- Spring in Iraq (with Anthony Cormican) (WARPS 2004)
- Paradise Café (Sunset Ostrich 2004)
- Secret Sandhills and satellites (Emanem, 2007)
- Five by Five DVD (WARPS)
- Intimate Sky (WARPS)
- Cafe Sophia (WARPS)
- Night Kitchen (Emanem)
- Fostering Creative Improvisation at the Keyboard (1985)
- All the Iron Night - a book of poems and stories, many dealing with musical themes (Smokebush Press, West Australia, 2004)
- The Well Weathered Piano (WARPS Publications, 2005)
- Papas, Chloe (13 November 2013). "Ebony and ivory: a field of ruined symphonies". ABC. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
- WARPS music, the label co-founded by Bolleter specialized in ruined pianos.
- An artistic history of Bolleter (outdated)