PRISMS was founded in 2009 by Glen Hackbarth and Simone Mancuso.
Simone Mancuso and Gabriel Bolaños are co-directors of the festival.
Simone Mancuso, percussionist and conductor specialized in contemporary music, has been internationally recognized for his interpretations of contemporary classical pieces. His prizes include the Kranichstein-Stipendienpreise from the Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt in 2002 and the First Prize from the Stockhausen Stiftung für Musik in 2005, which was awarded to Mancuso directly by Karlheinz Stockhausen. In 2007, Karlheinz Stockhausen selected him as a recommended performer of his works.
His career as a percussionist has taken him throughout Japan, Russia, Brazil, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United States. He has performed in such prestigious venues and festivals as the Kennedy Center, Blues Alley, Strathmore Hall, Martha Argerich Project, PASIC, among others.
As a soloist, he has appeared with the Basel Sinfonietta, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, SONUS Ensemble, and Orchestra da Camera Ungherese under the baton of Alexander Rabinovitch-Barakovsky, Johannes Kalitzke, Giorgio Bernasconi, Denise Fedeli, and Diego Fasolis.
He has collaborated with composers including Karlheinz Stockhausen, Salvatore Sciarrino, Alvin Curran, Klaus Huber, Chaya, Czernowin, Edoardo Soto-Milan, Rudolf Kelterborn, Adriana Hoelsky, Giovanni Damiani, Glenn Hackbarth and Garth Paine, among others.
In a chamber music setting, he has performed and recorded with celebrated pianists such as Martha Argerich, Gabriele Baldocci and Giorgia Tomassi. Mancuso’s critically acclaimed, internationally released recordings can be heard on Deutsche Grammophon, Stradivarius, Col Legno, Curva Minore, Suisse Grammont Portrait, and Chelandia. His solo CD La Parola al Legno features the world premiere recording of Il Legno e la Parola for solo marimba by Salvatore Sciarrino. His second solo CD is entirely dedicated to John Cage and features the world premiere recording of Variations VIII.
He is the founding member of the Swiss-based Lugano Percussion Group, the jazz/ classical crossover duo Mancuso-Suzda Project, and the Sonus Duo with renowned saxophonist Timothy McAllister. Since 2009 he has collaborated with the Phoenix-based ensemble, Crossing 32nd Street.
As a conductor, he has collaborated with soloists such as Dora Schwarzberg, Alexander Gurning, Jorge Bosso, Nora Romanoff. He recently toured with his New York based trio Ensemble-Nomade where he conducted Stravinsky Histoire du Soldat at the Martha Argerich Festivals in Japan and Switzerland. For this project Ensemble Nomade was paired with the members of the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Saito Kinen Orchestra, Tokyo University (Japan) and the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana.
Currently, Mancuso lives in Phoenix, U.S.A., where he is a faculty associate of percussion, director of the Arizona Contemporary Music Ensemble, co-director of the Contemporary Percussion Ensemble and artistic director of the Contemporary Music Festival PRISMS at Arizona State University.
Gabriel José Bolaños (b. 1984 Bogotá, Colombia) is a Nicaraguan-American composer of solo, chamber, orchestral and electroacousti music. He frequently collaborates closely with performers, and enjoys writing music that explores unusual structures and timbres. He is interested in computer-assisted-composition, auditory perception, linguistics, and modular synthesizers. He enjoys listening to music by Saariaho, Romitelli, Grisey, Gubaidulina, Harvey, León, Os Mutantes, Ciani, Wishart, Simon Diaz, Yupanqui and Sabicas.
Recent projects include a residency at CIRM with a commission for ensemble C. Barré for festival MANCA in Nice, France, a collection of audiovisual vignettes titled The Grand Transparents, a collaboration with Bassoonist Dana Jessen for solo bassoon and electronics called Los Minúsculos, and Charity and Love, an album with jazz pianist Frank Carlberg inspired by the music and voice of Mary Lou Williams.
Bolaños received a BA in Music from Columbia University and a PhD in Music Theory and Composition from UC Davis. His principal composition teachers include Mika Pelo, Pablo Ortiz, Laurie San Martin, Fabien Lévy and Sebastian Currier, and he studied orchestration with Tristan Murail. He also attended the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau (France), SICPP (Boston), Atlantic Music Festival (Maine), New Music on the Point (Vermont), Festival Mixtur (Barcelona) and SPLICE Institute (Michigan).
Bolaños is Assistant Professor of Music Composition at Arizona State University Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, where he teaches courses in composition, music technology, and acoustics. He was visiting lecturer at Bates College for the 2018-2019 academic year and taught courses in music theory and music technology. As a 2016-17 Fulbright Visiting Scholar in Nicaragua, he was composer-in-residence and visiting conductor for the UPOLI Conservatory Orchestra, and visiting professor at the UPOLI Conservatory of Music. He is co-founder and artistic director of Proyecto Eco, Nicaragua’s first new-music ensemble. He has also helped organize artistic and cultural exchanges between US and Nicaraguan musicians. Beyond his work as a teacher and composer of concert music, he has also written music for film, theater and dance, and has experience performing as a flamenco dance accompanist.