Michael Pestel

Before April 21, 1991, the day sculptor and musician Michael Pestel first played flute with birds at an art opening in Pittsburgh’s National Aviary, music and art were for him both separate and strictly human activities. After listening in amazement to birds responding verbatim to the flute, his work transformed into an interspecies conversation in which bird sound provided the medium, and research on bird extinction the context, for a range of pursuits: musical composition (Catalog of Extinct Birds, Litany), sound installation (Ornithology Series, Aviary, Migrations, Requiem), musical instrument design (Birdmachine, Violaire, Pianotable, Broominette), and hundreds of further performances live with birds in aviaries and in the wild throughout the world. His Stray Birds performances with Kudo Taketeru, Japan’s leading butoh dancer, have received acclaim in Japan, U.S.A., and Europe. He lives with his family on a suburban farm in Middletown, CT where they share the land with three avian-inspired cats, a pond full of frogs, a stream full of crayfish, and flocks of red-winged blackbirds.