Born in New Zealand in 1939, Annea Lockwood moved to England in 1961, studying composition at the Royal College of Music, London, attending summer courses at Darmstadt and completing her studies in Cologne and Holland, taking courses in electronic music with Gottfried Michael Koenig. In 1973 feeling a strong connection to such American composers as Pauline Oliveros, John Cage, the Sonic Arts Union (Ashley, Behrman, Mumma, Lucier), and invited by composer Ruth Anderson to teach at Hunter College, CUNY, she moved again to the US and settled in Crompond, NY. She is an Emerita Professor at Vassar College.
During the 1960s she collaborated with sound poets, choreographers and visual artists, and also created a number of works such as the Glass Concerts which initiated her lifelong fascination with timbre and new sound sources. In synchronous homage to Christian Barnard's pioneering heart transplants, Lockwood began a series of Piano Transplants (1969-82) in which defunct pianos were burned, drowned, beached, and planted in an English garden.
During the 1970s and '80s she turned her attention to performance works focused on environmental sounds and life-narratives, often using low-tech devices such as her Sound Ball, containing six small speakers and a receiver, designed by Robert Bielecki for Three Short Stories and an Apotheosis, in which the ball is rolled, swung on a long cord and passed around the audience. World Rhythms, A Sound Map of the Hudson River, Delta Run, built around a conversation she recorded with the sculptor, Walter Wincha, who was close to death, and other works were widely presented in the US, Europe and in New Zealand.
Since the early 1990s, she has written for a number of ensembles and solo performers, often incorporating electronics and visual elements. Thousand Year Dreaming is scored for four didgeridus, conch shell trumpets and other instruments and incorporates slides of the cave paintings at Lascaux. Duende, a collaboration with baritone Thomas Buckner, carries the singer into a heightened state, similar to a shamanic journey, through the medium of his own voice. Ceci n'est pas un piano for piano, video and electronics merges images from the Piano Transplants with Jennifer Hymer's musings on her hands and pianos she has owned, her voice being sent through, and colored by the piano strings.
Other recent work includes Vortex commissioned by Bang on a Can for the All-Stars; a surround-sound installation, A Sound Map of the Danube; Luminescence, settings of texts by Etel Adnan for Thomas Buckner and the SEM Ensemble; Gone! in which a little piano-shaped music box, attached to 20 helium balloons, is released from a concert grand and floats off over the audience playing, in one case, Memories. Jitterbug, commissioned by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company for the dance eyeSpace, incorporates Lockwood's recordings of aquatic insects, and two improvising musicians working from photographs of rock surfaces. Poems by three of the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are the focus of In Our Name, a collaboration with Thomas Buckner for baritone voice, cello and 'tape'.
Much of her music has been recorded, on the Lovely, XI, Mutable, Pogus, EM Records (Japan), Rattle Records, Soundz Fine (NZ), Harmonia Mundi and Ambitus labels. She is a recipient of the 2007 Henry Cowell Award.