Paul Hembree's work as composer and computer musician explores the perceptual categories of sonic materials and the processes that guide them, navigating the space between organic and synthetic sounds in a search for uncanny or sublime hybrids. Recent projects include his PhD dissertation, Ouroboros (2014-15), for ensemble and audio-visual media, a La Jolla Symphony and Chorus commission, Ikarus-Azur (2013), and Light: Frozen and Refracted (2012), premiered by Ensemble Intercontemporain. In Fall 2015, Hembree will tour California as computer musician with Irvine Arditti, premiering a new work for violin and computer by Roger Reynolds.
His works – described as having “impressive depths” (San Diego Theatre Review) and using “ingenious text combinations” (San Diego Union-Tribune) – have been performed around the United States and Europe, at events including IRCAM's ManiFeste 2012, June in Buffalo, MusicX, the SEAMUS and NIME conferences, the California Electronic Music Exchange Concerts, the New West Electronic Arts and Music Organization, and the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium.
As a graduate student at UC San Diego, Hembree worked with Reynolds as a computer music research assistant, aiding in the sound design and live performance of music that involves digital audio and video media. Reynolds' electroacoustic works involve a computer musician, typically seated among the instrumentalists on stage, actively controlling electronic sound transformations in real-time as a digitally-enhanced chamber musician.
In his role as Reynolds' assistant, Hembree has performed with new music luminaries around the United States, including bassist Mark Dresser, Southwest Chamber Music, Bill Kalinkos of Alarm Will Sound, and Ensemble Signal. In a Reynolds portrait concert at Miller Theatre, Hembree and Ensemble Signal's performance of Positings (2013) was described as “sonically beautiful and emotionally beguiling” (New York Classical Review). Over the next three years, Reynolds, Hembree, video artist Ross Karre and the renowned JACK Quartet are collaborating on a string quartet, digital audio and video work based on the history of powered flight.
Hembree is also an active researcher, with scholarship and audio engineering on Edgard Varése's Ionisation featured in Perspectives of New Music vol. 51, no. 1 (2013). As a guest speaker he has presented at Harvard University's Group for New Music, IRCAM's Acanthes Academy, and SUNY Buffalo. Hembree has taught courses on composition, Renaissance music, and video game audio as an associate instructor while at UC San Diego.