EMF History

Current Status

Electronic Music Foundation, Ltd. (EMF) is a New York State not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization with a concert office in New York City and a distribution, archival and administrative facility in Albany.


EMF was founded by Joel Chadabe in September 1994. Julie Panke was Executive Director. Joel Chadabe, Neil Rolnick, and Paul Lansky were founding members of the Board of Directors.

Its startup was supported by leading individuals, organizations, and companies in the field, among them Jon Appleton, François Bayle, Donald Buchla, Thomas Buckner, Joan La Barbara, Max Mathews, Robert Moog, Pauline Oliveros, Jean-Claude Risset, Laurie Spiegel, Morton Subotnick, and Iannis Xenakis; ICMA (International Computer Music Association), IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique), John Cage Trust, Theremin Institute (Moscow), and ZKM (Zentrum fur Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe); and Moog Music, E-mu Systems, Steinberg, Cycling 74, Skyboy Productions, and Symbolic Sound Corporation.

EMF's financial strategy has been to support its growth with individual, corporate, and organizational contributions, to support its everyday operations with earned income, and to support special activities with grants. The startup programs were intended to produce earned income: CDeMusic, providing access to materials; and EMF Media, a CD/DVD publication program.

Early growth

In 2000, three new programs were formed:

First, EMF began a collaboration with Engine 27, a new performance space in New York City, in renovating the space and outfitting it as a sound gallery. During its concert year 2000/01, EMF curated the first season of events at Engine 27, thereby initiating EMF Productions in New York City. For highlights of our current and past productions, go to the EMF Productions website.

      Visit EMF Productions

Second, EMF created The EMF Institute website with generous support from The Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science, and Technology.

Third, EMF began a partnership with the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM) in Paris to distribute GRM Tools, software for sound transformation and processing, created by GRM in Paris.

In addition, in 2002 EMF began a partnership with the UNESCO DigiArts Portal to develop software and continue to develop The EMF Institute site. In 2003, Arts Electric was formed as an email worldwide calendar and web-based information resource.

Turning point

In its 2004/05 season, EMF celebrated its 10th anniversary in New York City by producing several concerts of classical electronic music, culturally diverse approaches to improvisation, robotics, performance art, laptop performance, and extensions into video and other electronic arts. In addition, with the participation of several distinguished composers and researchers, EMF produced a Symposium on the Future at the Chelsea Art Museum. And, as an extraordinary event, EMF co-produced a two-evening series of concerts at Le Palais de Tokyo, a major art museum in Paris.

Through the beginning of its 2005/06 season, with growing awareness of environmental issues in the world, EMF's curating group began to formulate plans for a major festival based on environmental sound. In collaboration with NYU, in December 2005, EMF produced Knowing the World Through Sound, an all-day symposium and concert, as an introductory event. In October 2006, EMF produced the first Ear to the Earth event, a week-long multi-venue festival of environmental sounds.

      Visit Ear to the Earth

EMF's Board also noted that during the ten years since EMF's startup, the history of electronic music had become accessible, due in large part to the appearance of Electric Sound  (1997, Prentice Hall), a book on the history of electronic music written by EMF's founder and president. The Board decided to redirect the organization's mission and program emphasis to focus on concerts and live events that would explore the potential for creativity in working with technology.

The Board also noted that there was no truly suitable venue in New York for the presentation of electronic music and other technology-based artforms, and that such a center was important for the cultural prestige of the city, the country, and the field of electronic music in the United States. The Board decided to begin the process of establishing an International Electronic Music and Art Center in New York City.


In 2005, EMF wrote a proposal and secured a grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council/ Alliance for Downtown New York to begin Phase 1 of the formation of an International Electronic Music and Art Center in Manhattan. EMF subsequently secured additional funding from Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to continue the planning process through Phase 2. Working with its associates, consultants and potential partners, EMF is currently engaged in preparing to secure funding for Phase 3 in the formation of the Center.