Sasha Zamler-Carhart (1975) is a New York-based composer, singer, and scholar specialized in contemporary and medieval music.
Sasha holds a BA in linguistics and philosophy (Stanford), an MA in linguistics (Stanford), an MMus in music composition (University of London - Royal Holloway), a diploma in music composition (Royal Conservatoire The Hague) and a law degree (Stanford Law School).
He is the founder and vocalist of Zamler-Carhart/Rauh/Greenberg (voice, electric guitar, glockenspiel), a New York chamber improv band that sets poetic texts to a contemporary vibe, and whose sound Muhal Richard Abrams once called “delicious”. The band has a particular focus on medieval poetry, such as Byzantine kontakia and troubadour verse.
Several composers have written operas and song cycles for Sasha’s tenor/haute-contre voice (Jason Cady, Andrew Noseworthy, Samn Johnson, Kyle Tieman-Strauss).
Sasha founded and directed the Medieval Music program at the Royal Conservatoire The Hague (The Netherlands), where he designed the curriculum and taught performance, theory and Latin. He is the founder and director of The Ascoli Ensemble, a vocal ensemble specialized in rare medieval polyphony, with which he has recorded several CDs—including one commissioned by Austrian Academy of Sciences—and which was ensemble-in-residence at MIT and the University of Heidelberg. He currently teaches History of Music at Mannes School of Music at The New School in New York.
As a composer Sasha’s music has been described as “medieval spectral disco” with influences from the Middle Ages, Africa, funk, disco, and French spectralism. It has been performed across Europe, Japan and the U.S.
Sasha has a passion for ethnomusicology and a special fondness for Africa. He has traveled extensively around the continent, visiting frequently as a child and returning as an adult to do field research in Cameroon (Bamiléké court music), Gabon (polyphony of the Baka Pygmies) and Madagascar (polyphony of the Androy region) as preparation for his own compositions.
As a linguist Sasha’s interest lay in sociolinguistics, pidgins and creoles, language transmission in immigrant communities, and African-American Vernacular English. This orientation survives in his musical practice and research, which involves a structuralist approach to cross-cultural contact phenomena and their musical results.
In an earlier career Sasha managed a venture capital fund in Silicon Valley and worked as a lawyer for the firm of Baker & McKenzie. He is proficient in French, German, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Yiddish, and various other modern languages, as well as in Latin, Classical Greek, and medieval Occitan. He has also studied Korean, Japanese, Arabic and some languages of Africa (Twì, Bambara, Fulani, Songhay, Amharic) and the Pacific (Samoan, Bislama) but is not proficient in them.
His hobbies include Byzantine studies, Protestant theology and agriculture.