M.O. Abbott (b. 1979) is an American-born composer and bass trombonist based in Berlin since 2020. His creative foci include computer-assisted algorithmic composition, microtonality, Just Intonation, and electroacoustic composition. He is fascinated by stochastic systems and emergent generative forms, and often draws creative inspiration from science, mathematics, nature, the mystical, the absurd, and the mundane. M.O. remains an ardent supporter of absolute and abstract music, and of risk-taking music based in research, experimentation, speculation, and inquiry.
M.O.'s music has been conducted by Petr Kotik and Stephen Andrew Taylor, and performed by ensembles such as Harmonic Space Orchestra, Brass Abacus, loadbang, and Illinois Modern Ensemble, and by esteemed new music interpreters such as Caleb Burhans, Yi-Wen Chen, Melody Chua, Martha Cluver, Elizabeth Gartman, Robin Hayward, Nathan Mandel, Kevin McFarland, Weston Olencki, Tomoko Ono, and Lucas Marshall Smith. M.O.'s work has recently been heard at festivals and conferences including Harmonic Space 2020: James Tenney, Ostrava Days, ICMC, Diffrazioni, the SCI National Conference, the SEAMUS National Conference, and New Music on the Point. Along with pianist Whitney Ashe, M.O. was awarded the 19th Annual 21st Century Piano Commission. He has also been recognized with a Presser Graduate Music Award.
M.O. also remains an active performer on bass trombone. He has appeared with myriad groups including Harmonic Space Orchestra, Brass Abacus, Zinc & Copper, Ostravská banda, Ostrava New Orchestra, Illinois Modern Ensemble, Sinfonia da Camera, Eastman Musica Nova and Ossia, and Eastman Trombone Choir. His characteristic sound on the instrument has recently been absorbed by audiences at events such as Sixth Edition Festival (SE), MaerzMusik (DE), Borealis (NO), and festival riverrun (FR). His recent focus on Just Intonation performance has allowed prominent opportunities to interpret works by Ellen Arkbro, Robin Hayward, Catherine Lamb, Marc Sabat, and Thomas Nicholson, among others.
M.O. has studied trombone with Mark Lawrence, John Marcellus, Jim Pugh, and Elliot Chasanov. He has had additional lessons with William Lang, Felix Del Tredici, Hilary Jeffrey, and Reginald Chapman. He has been mentored on bass trombone via e-mail correspondence by Jim Fulkerson. M.O. has also attended the Darmstädter Ferienkurse Brass Academy.
M.O. holds a B.M. in Music Theory from Eastman School of Music and a M.M. in Music Composition from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he served as the systems administrator of CAMIL (Computer-Assisted Music Instruction Laboratory) and CMP (Computer Music Project). At Illinois he also worked as a teaching assistant for undergraduate music technology, music theory, and aural skills classes, as a research assistant for EMS (Experimental Music Studios), as webmaster for the Salvatore Martirano Memorial Composition Award, and as an IT specialist for the College of Fine and Applied Arts.