|New York Times, Tuesday, April 14, 1998
Tom Cora, 44, New-Music Cellist With Flair
for the Avant-Garde Tom Cora, a cellist, composer and improviser who was
a mainstay of the new-music scene in New York City, died on Thursday at
a hospital in Draguignam, in the south of France, where he lived with his
wife and son. He was 44.
The cause was melanoma, said his brother,
Mr. Cora, whose original surname was Corra,
grew up in Richmond and took up the cello while an undergraduate at the
University of Virginia. He studied under the vibraphonist Karl Berger at
Creative Music Studios in Woodstock, N.Y., when
came to New York City in 1979. It was
a ripe and chaotic moment for improvised music in Manhattan, well before
the Knitting Factory provided a frequent venue for musicians like Mr. Cora,
who were influenced by progressive rock, jazz and avant-garde
composition and who were able to consolidate
absurdist humor and structuralist thinking in the same composition.
Mr. Cora fell into a circle that included
John Zorn, Eugene Chadbourne, Andrea Centazzo, Butch Morris and Fred Firth,
and he became known for highly amplifying his cello and for playing sawed
chords and percussive riffs on it as if it were an electric guitar. Best
known as part of the long-running band Curlew, he also played with the
groups Skeleton Crew and Third Person, and collaborated with the Dutch
anarchist rock band The Ex.