As a free-lance drummer/percussionist, David Van Tieghem has worked with Steve Reich & Musicians, Laurie Anderson, Brian Eno & David Byrne, the Manhattan Percussion Ensemble, Stevie Nicks, Jon Gibson, Talking Heads, Robert Fripp, Scott Johnson, Robert Gordon, Duran Duran, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sergei Kuryokhin, Pink Floyd, John Cale, Chris Spedding, Richard Peaslee, Nona Hendryx, Jerry Harrison, Yoshiko Chuma & the School of Hard Knocks, Adrian Belew, Merce Cunningham, Graciela Daniele, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, the Big Apple Circus, Ned Sublette, Lenny Pickett, Michael Nyman, David Moss, Robert Ashley, and Peter Gordon's Love of Life Orchestra, among others.
Since 1977 he has been presenting his solo percussion-theater performances in venues throughout the world, including Carnegie Hall, the Composers Showcase series and the Serious Fun! Festival at Lincoln Center, the Bottom Line, the Kitchen, the Knitting Factory, the Palladium, the Beacon Theater, P. S. 122, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Danceteria, the Peppermint Lounge, and the Mudd Club in N.Y.C., NBC-TV's "Late Night with David Letterman," Nickelodeon Cable TV, the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston, the Milwaukee Art Museum, The Maine Festival, the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, the N.Y. State Performing Arts Center in Albany, The Exploratorium in San Francisco, the Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh, the New Music America Festivals in Washington, D.C., Miami and New York, the N.Y. State Council on the Arts New Music Network tour, the "Good Morning America" and "Ripley's Believe It or Not" TV shows, the Ambient Music Festival in Rome, the Herbst Festival in Graz, Austria, the Festival D'Automne in Paris, and several solo concert tours of Japan.
As an actor/musician, he has appeared in music-theater works at the Joseph Papp Public Theater, in performance-art by Robert Longo, and in video artworks by John Sanborn & Kit Fitzgerald. He also played several roles in Robert Ashley's television operas, "Perfect Lives (Private Parts)" and "Atalanta (Acts of God)" from 1978 to 1983, and is featured in Laurie Anderson's 1986 feature film, "Home of the Brave." He has also appeared in TV commercials for Sony, Levi's and Diet Coke.
Van Tieghem's original video works, "Ear Drums," "Ear-Responsibility," and the well-known "Ear to the Ground," wherein Van Tieghem literally "plays" the streets of New York as if it were a musical instrument, have become internationally acclaimed favorites. These collaborations with video artists John Sanborn, Kit Fitzgerald, and Mary Perillo have been televised and presented in art venues and nightclubs throughout the world. In 1985, "Ear to the Ground" opened the premiere season of the PBS TV series "Alive from Off-Center."
In 1983, choreographer Twyla Tharp commissioned Van Tieghem to create the score for her full-company work, "Fait Accompli," which was performed at Brooklyn Academy of Music, Sadler's Wells Theatre in London, the 1984 Olympics Arts Festival in Los Angeles, and the Gershwin Theater on Broadway. In 1984, the soundtrack for "Fait Accompli" was released by Warner Bros. Records as the LP "These Things Happen."
He has also created original commissioned dance scores for The Boston Ballet, Elisa Monte Dance Company, The Pennsylvania Ballet, Wendy Perron Dance Company, Molissa Fenley & Dancers, Jennifer Muller/The Works, and Hilary Easton & Dancers.
In 1985, he composed the music for "The Alchemedians," a performance piece by Michael Moschen & Bob Berky, presented at BAM's Next Wave Festival and on Broadway, and in 1986, he collaborated with choreographer Wendy Perron as a dancer/composer to create their duet, "Divertissement."
Van Tieghem composed the scores for Lizzie Borden's 1986 feature film "Working Girls," and "Penn & Teller's Invisible Thread," a science-fiction comedy directed by Bob Balaban. His music has also been heard on the TV shows "General Hospital," "Smithsonian World," "Entertainment Tonight," "Alive from Off-Center," "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," "Newton's Apple," "The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson," "Nature," "Hard Copy," and ABC's 1984 Olympics coverage, as well as in the Broadway play "Six Degrees of Separation."
In 1987, Private Music released Van Tieghem's second album, "Safety In Numbers" and "Galaxy," a music-video utilizing ground-breaking digital video technology and computer animation, directed by John Sanborn & Mary Perillo, which has been shown repeatedly on MTV, VH-1, and worldwide television. That same year, Van Tieghem became the first U.S. composer/ performance artist to present his work in the U.S.S.R. as part of a new cultural exchange program with the Soviet Composers Union.
In 1988, he premiered several new works of music, dance and performance at the Serious Fun! Festival at Lincoln Center, and he collaborated as composer/performer with John Sanborn & Mary Perillo to create "Cause and Effect," a short film in High Definition Video, which was shown at the 1988 N.Y. Film Festival. He also composed the score for Michael Moschen's solo show "In Motion," commissioned for BAM's 1988 Next Wave Festival.
In 1989, En Garde Arts commissioned Van Tieghem to create a site-specific theater piece for a room in N.Y.C.'s historic Chelsea Hotel, HBO included his music in the Sports Illustrated 25th Anniversary Swimsuit Video, and Private Music released his third album, "Strange Cargo." He also played the title role and composed the music for "The Ghost Writer," a new theater work he co-wrote with actress/choreographer Tina Dudek, which premiered at Dance Theater Workshop.
In 1990, he composed the music for and performed in "Urchin One," a science-fiction theater piece created with sound sculptors Bill & Mary Buchen, as well as three plays by Mac Wellman: the En Garde Arts site-specific production of "Crowbar," at the historic Victory Theatre in Times Square, (which won two Obie Awards and an Outer Critics Circle Award); "The Ninth World" at Cucaracha Theatre; and the Obie-winning "Sincerity Forever" at The Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, MA and BACA Downtown in Brooklyn. In addition, he scored Monika Treut's 1991 feature film "My Father is Coming," featuring Annie Sprinkle.
Van Tieghem is the past recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet The Composer, The Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, Art Matters Inc., The Jerome Foundation, the N.Y. State Council on the Arts, the Beards Fund, and the N.Y. Foundation for the Arts. In 1986, he received the "Bessie" (N.Y. Dance and Performance) Award for Music.
Recently, he composed new music for Montreal dance company La La La Human Steps, and for Larry Fessenden's feature film "No Telling" (in which he also played a leading role as an actor). He also composed the scores for the PBS "Great Performances/Dance In America" TV program "Michael Moschen: In Motion," and for The Wooster Group's film "White Homeland Commando."
In 1992-93 he collaborated with Mac Wellman and En Garde Arts on "Strange Feet," a music-theater piece about dinosaurs, which premiered in Washington, D.C. at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, and he was featured in two more Wellman plays: "A Murder of Crows" at Primary Stages and "Land of Fog & Whistles" at the Whitney Museum Biennial. He also played a leading role in Dan Froot's "Young Very Young Very Very Very Young" at Dance Theater Workshop, recorded John Cage's "Living Room Music" for a tribute CD on Koch International, and joined the Kodo Drummers in Japan for performances in "Earth Celebration '93" on Sado Island.
In 1994, he composed music for three more Mac Wellman plays: "Dracula" and "Swoop" at Soho Rep and "The Hyacinth Macaw" at Primary Stages, as well as for Travis Preston's "Apocrypha" at Cucaracha Theatre. In addition, he premiered his new solo percussion-theater work, "Absence of Mallets," at Dance Theater Workshop. Recent projects include original music for five Off-Broadway plays: "Don Juan in Chicago" and "The Model Apartment" at Primary Stages, "Incommunicado" at the Judith Anderson Theatre, the American premiere of "Roberto Zucco" at Cucaracha Theatre, and "Deviant Craft" at the Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage. He is currently recording his fourth album.