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This Autumn, Rinde is on the Road for Rinde's Odyssey.

Made possible by a grant from the Doris Duke Foundation.

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And What is MY FOOLS?
In Rinde's words...

"They don't disappear, the fools I've created, the losers with big ideas, big voices, hanging out in their narrow rooms, dreaming, dancing, contemplating the world as if they were the philosopher kings, the happy geniuses of their households.  They burrow into my psyche and wait, patiently until they're called, asked to sing again, asked to play the ukelele, the slide guitar, the accordion.  Asked to remember something, speak some truth, mourn. ponder, or stop the world from spinning for a second so we can all catch up.  I love these fools, tender hearted and fierce, observant and silly, tragic and mighty.   I love them for their strangeness, their wisdom, and their vulnerability.  They embarrass me in the best way imaginable.  They humble me.  They insist I keep looking at their shapes and shadows:  better selves, worse selves, broken selves, saved selves.  My life is a blessing of holy fools.  They guide me home on the darkest nights." - Rinde Eckert, 2016

Track Rinde's Travels

And God Created Great Whales


An extraordinary and haunting musical adventure into the psyche of a composer trying to create an opera based on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Desperately fighting against a disease eating away at his mind, he is forced to rely on a tape recorder hung around his neck, each day pressing "Play" and hearing yesterday’s instructions to himself. Described by thee New York Timessas "an American loner-eccentric with touches of Bertolt Brecht, Samuel Beckett, and Tom Waits," Rinde Eckert displays his full creative force in this frenzied, funny, romantic and moving play.

Selected Reviews

Big Farm

Given half the chance, I’ll take the photograph that lies / I’ll take the romance, the beauty of her less than truthful eyes
— Lyric (excerpt), Ghosts


Big Farm Live at Joe's Pub, New York City

It answers a call to each of these musicians to a place where the rules normative to the hard genres of music (classical, jazz, folk, pop, blues, and world, for example) are set aside.  Under the banner of ‘prog-rock’ it becomes possible for the group to express the eclecticism of its members, a place where serious counterpoint can meet burlesque, earnestness meet abandon; a place where we can kick it or take it to tea, reflect, attack, mourn, dance, pray, or mock with ease or determination, joy or fervor, using any and all means necessary.  This world is a big farm – lots of different crops, changing weather, livestock, and a duck pond for good measure.

Steven Mackey Guitar
Rinde Eckert Vocals
Jason Treuting Percussion 
Mark Haanstra Bass

Selected Review

Recent Past Work (Selection)

Chronology of Work

Since Rinde’s role (or roles) in the development of these works varies widely from piece to piece (writer, composer, performer, and director, in different combinations) breaking his creative history down into discrete categories is cumbersome.

What follows is a chronology of works with brief explanations.


  • My Lai presented by Singapore International Festival of Arts
  • My Lai NY premiere at BAM
  • My Lai presented by UCLA
  • My Lai presented by Cal Performances
  • My Lai presented by Hancher Auditorium
  • Kronos Quartet, Rinde Eckert, Van- Ahn Vo presented by Cal Performance
  • Aging Magician at New Victory Theater
  • Mr. Wau Wa Band at Mark Ettinger's Lethe Lounge
  • Rinde's Kennedy Center Debut: Inaugural Season of Renee Fleming's Voices
  • Aging Magician presented by ASU Gammage
  • Sandhills Reunion at the Stone Barn


  • Schick Machine presented by Paul Dresher Ensemble
  • U.S. premiere of Sandhills Reunion at National Sawdust
  • performs Pericles at Two River Theater
  • TedX Navesink: 'The Power of the Blank Page' lecture
  • Aging Magician at Krannert Center with Julian Crouch and Brooklyn Youth Chorus
  • World Premiere of Aging Magician at Walker Art Center
  • Aging Magician at Mass MoCA residency
  • curated and performed at event Seven Natural Phenomena at National Sawdust
  • World Premiere of My Lai with the Kronos Quartet at Harris Theater


  • completes and performs Five Beasts at Les Subsistances in Lyon, France with Ned Rothenberg, Adam Matta and Mark DeChiazza
  • presents Big Farm at National Sawdust
  • perform at Barbés with Mr. Wau-Wa band
  • begins work on Jonathan Berger's My Lai that he will perform and direct with kronos Quartet and Van-Ahn-Vo
  • performs Lonely Island with Eighth Blackbird at Celebrate Brooklyn
  • performs with Paul Dresher at Family Day at Oz Arts in Nashville
  • performs in Sound Bites: A concert to benefit Roulette's new and adventurous art
  • Aging Magician at the Under Construction Series at the Park Avenue Armory
  • Interpreting Myth and Drama workshop at Mark Morris Dance Center
  • finishes first draft of Pericles


  • workshops The Aging Magician at the Park Avenue Armory as one of its artists-in-residence
  • begins work with David Schweizer on a musical version of Shakespeare's Pericles
  • co-stars with Ellen McLaughlin in a run of Sarah Ruhl's Dear Elizabeth at People's Light and Theater
  • debuts as principle soloist with the New York Philharmonic in the New York premiere of Dreamhouse
  • receives a Distinguishes Alumnus Award from the University of Iowa
  • begins work with Carla Kihlstedt and Matthias Bossi on a concert theater adaptation of some of Kenneth Koch's One Thousand Avant-garde Plays
  • develops Five Beasts with ned Rothenberg and Adam Matta
  • performs evening of improvisations with Ruth Zaporah at Roulette


  • revises Eye Piece and co-directs with David Schweizer as part of a residency at Barnard College
  • directs Jonathan Berger's Visitations -two one-act operas, at Bing Hall, Stanford University
  • remounts Idiot Divine at the Open Eye Theater in Minneapolis
  • begins work with composer Paola Prestini and designer/director Julian Crouch on The Aging Magician


  • Los Angeles debut of And God Created Great Whales at RED CAT Theater
  • remounts and runs And God Created Great Whales at The Culture Project in New York
  • revises and remount Gurs Zyklus at On The Boards in Seattle
  • writes, composes, and directs The Last Days of the Old Wild Boy as part of a residency at Wesleyan University
  • finishes recording Big Farm CD
  • one of the first clas of artists to be awarded a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award


  • Residencies at William and Mary College, University of Maryland, and Wesleyan University
  • directs Carla Kihlstedt's Necessary Monsters at Yerba Buena in San Francisco
  • co-creates Gurs Zyklus with Timpin (Premiere: Stanford University)
  • sings Dreamhouse with BBC Philharmonic in Manchester, UK
  • creates a solo concert called On Becoming Unusual
  • remounts And God Created Great Whales in New York


  • writes, composes and directs Eye Piece at the University of Iowa with Drama School students as part of an artistic residency
  • records Lonely Motel with eighth blackbird and Steve Mackey
  • starts recording first Big Farm CD with Steve Mackey, Jason Treuting and Mark Haanstra
  • residencies in Olympia, Washington and Wesleyan University
  • co-stars with Richard Dreyfus in a staged reading of Colin Greer's Heschel at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York


  • directs and writes Schick Machine with music by Paul Dresher for Steven Schick
  • writes libretto and performs Slide at Ojai Music Festival with music by Steven Mackey with eighth blackbird
  • sings first US performance of Dreamhouse with Boston Modern Orchestra Project
  • remounts And God Created Great Whales at USC
  • receives Alpert Award for theater
  • New York premiere of Orpheus X at the Duke Theater presented by Theater For a New Audience


  • Orpheus X -Asian premiere at Hong Kong International Theater Festival
  • Fate and Spinoza -writes and directs this 12 person two act play that (Premiere: Wright Hall, University of California, Davis)
  • Eye Piece -Writes and directs this multi media piece (Premiere: University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA)


  • Horizon – New York premiere at New York Theatre Workshop
  • Dream House – American premiere in Boston with BMOP
  • Orpheus X – European premiere at the Edinburgh Festival
  • Awarded Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition


  • An Idiot Divine -solo performance at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, NYC.
  • Orpheus X -premiere performance at AmericanRepertory Theater in March


  • Horizon – performs the premiere in October and November at the Lied Center, The Mondavi Center, Claris Smith Center for the Arts, and Montclair State University
  • Given Marc Blitzstein Memorial Award by American Academy of Arts and Letters


  • Sandhills Reunion (album) -writes and records the text for this spoken word/jazz CD with Jerry Granelli
  • Horizon -Begins writing music and text for new music theater work for a consortium of producers.
  • Orpheus X -begins initial sketches for American Repertory Theater
  • And God Created Great Whales -performed at Bonn Bianale as part of the Best of New York Festival.

2002 – 03

  • Highway Ulysses –writes, composes, and performs this large work for American Repertory Theater. Based on Homer’s ‘Odyssey,’ the work involves eight actors, a chorus, and a combo of musicians. It premieres in March of 03.
    • Receives Eliot Norton Award for Best Large Ensemble Production.
  • And God Created Great Whales –London premiere at The Barbican Theater
  • Dream House –writes the libretto (in collaboration with Steve Mackey) and sings the solo in this 48 minute ‘oratorio’ of Mackey’s. Scored for symphony orchestra, soloist, solo chorus, and guitar ensemble. (Premiere: with the Dutch Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Synergy Vocals, Amsterdam.)
  • American Theater Magazine –publishes the text of Highway Ulysses in Sept. 03 issue
  • Sound Stage –writes and directs this concert theater work with music by Paul Dresher and the Zeitgeist ensemble.

List of Works By Title

with premiere date.

A Tale We Told the Queen on the Fourth Day Of Our Journey To The East 1999
An Idiot Divine  2001
And God Created Great Whales 2000
and so they… 1988
Awed Behavior 1993
Breathe Normally 1999
Considering the Stained Glass Hands 1990
Dear Elizabeth 2014
Do The Day Over (album) 1992
Dream house 2003
Dry Land Divine 1988
EVOL 1986
Eye Piece 2008
Fanfare 1989
Fate and Spinoza 2008
Final Hour 1996
Finding My Way Home (album) 1991
Five Beasts 2015
Five or Six Dances 1996
Four Songs Lost in a Wall 1995
Grace Floats 1988
Hair Blood and Vinyl 1997
Highway Ulysses 2002-03
Highway Ulysses text published in American Theater Magazine 2003
Horizon 2004
Invisible Wars 1987
Isthmus 1986
My Lai
Navigators 1999
No Say 1986
No Say (installation) 1987
No Say (solo) 1989
Nomad Mad 1987
Not For Real 1987
Orpheus X 2006
Pioneer 1990
Power Failure 1989
Ravenshead 1998
Romeo Sierra Tango 1998
Sandhills Reunion (album) 2004
Secret House 1990
Seduction 1997
Shelf Life 1987
Shoot The Moving Things 1987
Shorebirds Atlantic 1987
Shorebirds Atlantic (TV) 1989
Slight of Hands 1986
Slow Fire (1st two-act) 1986
Slow Fire (final two-act) 1988
Slow Fire (one-act) 1985
Sound Stage 2003
Steps Midway 1988
Story In Story Out (album) 1997
The Aging Magician
The Compleat Strangers (band) 1991
The Evolution of the Joke 1994
The Finsterwald Diary 1994
The Gardening of Thomas D. 1992
The Gates (Far Away Near) 1993
The Global Vocal Meeting 2000
The Idiot Variations 1995
Visitations 2013
was are/will 1985
Woman Window Square 1990

Rinde Eckert and Nora Cole in  And God Created Great Whales  at RED CAT in Los Angeles. Photo by Caleb Wertenbaker.

Rinde Eckert and Nora Cole in And God Created Great Whales at RED CAT in Los Angeles. Photo by Caleb Wertenbaker.


  • An Idiot Divine -performs two earlier works (Dry Land Divine and The Idiot Variations) together at The Culture Project in New York.
  • And God Created Great Whales -Remounts the piece at The Culture Project in New York


  • And God Created Great Whales -a solo opera-theater work based on Moby Dick commissioned by The Foundry Theater, NY.
  • The Global Vocal Meeting -Represents the West in a concert featuring singers from different parts of the globe: Senge from Madagascar, Abdoulayah Diabate from Mali, Sudha Ragunathan from India, Mitsou from Hungary and Corin Corschelas from Switzerland. Tours Germany and Sweden.


  • Breathe Normally - writes text for this multimedia dance theater work by the Margaret Jenkins Dance Co. (Premiere: Columbia College, Chicago)
  • Navigators - a children’s opera he conceives writes, composes and directs for Opera Piccola, Oakland,CA (Premiere: Temescal Art Center, Oakland, CA)
  • A Tale We Told The Queen on the Fourth Day of Our Journey to the East... - writing and directing new work with students at the University of Iowa as Artist in Residence (Premiere: University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA)
Rinde in Romeo Sierra Tango

Rinde in Romeo Sierra Tango


  • Romeo Sierra Tango -writes and performs this solo piece based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Commissioned from New York Shakespeare Festival (Premiere: The Public Theater, New York)
  • Ravenshead -writes the libretto and performs this one man two act opera with music by Steve Mackey (Premiere: Penn State U., State College PA. )



  • Seduction -conceives, writes and co-directs this two person piece for Leonard Pitt and Ruth Zaporah
  • Hair Blood and Vinyl  -conceives, directs and co-writes this five person piece for the Juggernaut Theater. (Premiere: New York Fringe Festival)
  • Story In Story Out (album) -releases third solo CD: two narrative suites, music and text (for Intuition)


  • Five or Six Dances -composes chamber music/theater for The Sonora Ensemble (Premiere: Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, WA)
  • The Idiot Variations -performs new Czech translation at Archa Theater in Prague.
  • Final Hour -installation/performance for Rudolfinum museum in Prague.


  • The Idiot Variations -writes, composes, and performs this evening length solo 'garage opera' (Premiere: Hancher Auditorium, Iowa City)
    • In June, he performs the piece in Czech at Divadlo Archa in Prague.
  • Four Songs Lost In a Wall - writes, composes, and performs this radio opera (Commissioned by New Radio and Performance)


  • The Gardening of Thomas D. -completes revisions on the piece and has it translated into French by Jacqueline Kaplan for tour of France(Creteil, Mons, Strassbourg)
  • The Evolution of the Joke -composes the score and performs this short dance piece choreographed by Ellie Klopp and (Premiere: The Sunset Center in Carmel, Ca.)
  • The Finsterwald Diary - composes chamber music piece for New Performance Group (now The Sonora Ensemble)


  • Awed Behavior -writes and directs this two person music-theater piece with music by Paul Dresher.
  • The Gates (Far Away Near) -co-writes a text with poet Michael Palmer for a dance piece of The Margaret Jenkins Dance Company (Premiere: Cal Performances UC Berkeley, and Jacob's Pillow)


  • The Gardening of Thomas D. -finishes writing and composing this work for he and Ellie Klopp. Co-directs with Melissa Weaver (Premiere: Hancher Aud. University of Ia., Walker Art Museum, On The Boards-Seattle)
  • Do The Day Over (album) -finishes second album with The Compleat Strangers.


  • Finding My Way Home (album) -composes and records an album of songs which form the basis for his new musical group The Compleat Strangers (Lee Townsend producer; released on DIW Records.)
  • The Compleat Strangers (band) -debuts in San Francisco and New York


  • Secret House -writes the text and performs with Oberlin Dance Co. (Premiere: Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, Ca.)
  • Woman Window Square -composes the score and writes the text for the Margaret Jenkins Dance Co. (Premiere: Crannart Center, Urbana, Illinois)
  • Pioneer -writing and performing in collaboration with Terry Allen, Jo Harvey Allen, John Duykers, and Paul Dresher (Premiere: Spoleto Festival, Charlotte, NC)
  • Considering the Stained Glass Hands -conceives, writes, composes, and directs for Diverse Works workshop in Baltimore, MD.


  • Power Failure -writes the libretto and performs this two Act Opera with music by Paul Dresher (Premiere: American Music Theater Festival, Philadelphia)
  • Shorebirds Atlantic -adapts for television (ALIVE FROM OFF CENTER)
  • No Say -revises this early work as a solo performance (Premiere: Intersection Theater S.F.)
  • Fanfare -a very short piece he creates music for and performs with Ohad Naharin for "Serious Fun" at Lincoln Center


  • Slow Fire -completes the final two-act revision of the piece (Premiere: Hancher Auditorium, Iowa City)
  • Grace Floats -conceives, writes and directs for Deborah Slater; also composes the music. (Premiere: New Performance Gallery, S.F.)
  • Dry Land Divine -a solo piece he conceives, writes, and performs (Premiere: Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, Ca.)
  • and so they... -writes the text and performs this short duet with Margaret Jenkins (Premiere: Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, Ca.)
  • Steps Midway -composes the music for this solo by M. Jenkins (Premiere: Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, Ca.)


Margaret Jenkins and Rinde Eckert in Shorebirds Atlantic. MUSIC: Rinde Eckert
CHOREOGRAPHY: Margaret Jenkins
TEXT: Rinde Eckert
PERFORMERS: Rinde Eckert and Margaret Jenkins LIGHTING: Alex Nichols

  • Nomad Mad -writes and performs with Ruth Zaporah, also composes and designs the sound and music score. (Premiere: Intersection Theater, S.F.)
  • Not For Real -writes and directs for Leonard Pitt; also designs the sound score. (Premiere: Life On The Water Theater, S.F.)
  • Shelf Life -a collaboration with the Margaret Jenkins Dance Co. he writes and performs the music and text. (Premiere: Theater Artaud, S.F.)
  • Shorebirds Atlantic -writes the text and music for this duet with Margaret Jenkins; choreography is by Jenkins. (Premiere: Kalang Theater, Singapore)
  • Shoot The Moving Things -a solo radio musical he writes and performs live for KPFK in Los Angeles
  • No Say -develops this earlier work for an installation at Cal Arts with ceramic sculptor Rory Nakata
  • Invisible Wars -writes the music for this dance by Contraband (Premiere: Theater Artaud, S.F.)


  • No Say (duet version) -creates this first as a duet with Byron Brown (Premiere: New Performance Gallery [NPG], San Francisco)
  • Isthmus -a solo he writes for Sarah Shelton Mann (Premiere: New Performance Gallery [NPG], S.F.)
  • Slight of Hands -directs this duet with Sarah Shelton Mann and Byron Brown; also composes the score. (Premiere: New Performance Gallery [NPG], S.F.)
  • EVOL -writes the musical score for this evening length dance by Contraband (Premiere: Theater Artaud, S.F.)
  • Slow Fire -completes the first two-act version (Premiere: American Music Theater Festival, Philadelphia) with Paul Dresher and Richard E.T. White


  • was are/will be -writes the text and performs (Premiere: Japan American Theater, L.A.) with music by Paul Dresher
  • Slow Fire (one-act) -writes the text and performs the one act version (Premiere: Mark Taper Forum, L.A.) with composer Paul Dresher and director Richard E.T. White


Master of Music-Yale University, 1975
Bachelor of Music-University of Iowa, 1973