Based in Amsterdam, STEIM (the STudio for Electro-Instrumental Music) was founded in 1969 by a group of composers including Peter Schat, Konrad Boehmer, Misha Mengelberg, Louis Andriessen and Dick Raaymakers. The organisation supported contemporary music, theatre and dance in various ways, including the development of special electronic musical instruments and controllers, the provision of staff and facilities to help composers work on specific projects, and frequent informal concerts in Amsterdam.
Operating at a similar level to Paris-based IRCAM, researchers at STEIM created many and various devices and software packages which are used to manipulate sound and visuals in live performance. These include the first Apple Mac program allowing realtime manipulation of video, and a rich set of imaginative controllers which can be used by the performers themselves, on-stage.
Of special value were STEIM's residencies, allowing performers to work and study in Amsterdam in an artistic and technical environment in which their ideas could be constructed and tried out. STEIM later expanded into new areas, initiating projects with puppeteers, circus artists and street musicians.
STEIM was led by Peter Schat (1971-73), Michel Waisvisz (1981-2008) and by Dick Rijken from 2008 until 2020. It was also guided by a series of artistic directors including George E Lewis, Joel Ryan, Clarence Barlow, Nicolas Collins, Steina Vasulka, Sally Jane Norman, Daniel Schorno, Netochka Nezvanova, Jan St Werner, Mazen Kerbaj, Atau Tanaka, Tarek Atoui, Tina Blaine and Takuro Mizuta Lippit.
From 1986, the organisation was located at the Achtergracht in south Amsterdam in a building containing three studios, a concert hall, hardware and software workshops, offices, and a guesthouse for artists in residence.
Although it seemed difficult to imagine the Dutch contemporary music scene without the creativity of this organisation, which was the world's only independent live electronic music centre, exclusively dedicated to the performing arts, STEIM's funding from the Dutch government was cut in 2020 and the organisation stopped its operations at the end of that year.
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