As a free-lance drummer/percussionist, he has worked with Steve Reich & Musicians, Laurie Anderson, Brian Eno & David Byrne, Arthur Russell, Flying Hearts, Peter Gordon's Love of Life Orchestra, Robert Ashley, the Manhattan Percussion Ensemble, Stevie Nicks, Howard Shore, Jon Gibson, Talking Heads, Robert Fripp, Scott Johnson, Robert Gordon, Arcadia (the Duran Duran spin-off), Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sergei Kuryokhin, Pink Floyd, Michael Oldfield, John Cale, Chris Spedding, Richard Peaslee, Twyla Tharp, Elliott Murphy, Nona Hendryx, Arto Lindsay, Bob Clearmountain, Jerry Harrison, Yoshiko Chuma & the School of Hard Knocks, Adrian Belew, Merce Cunningham, Allen Ginsberg, Graciela Daniele, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, the Big Apple Circus with Philippe Petit, Bill Laswell, Ned Sublette, Tony Williams, David Cunningham, Lenny Pickett, Michael Nyman, David Moss, John Zorn, Anton Fier, the Golden Palominos, Happy Traum, Tracy Bonham, Blondie, Dickie Landry, Charlie Sexton and Nexus Percussion, 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, Central Park SummerStage, New Sounds Live with John Schaefer, the Bottom Line, the Kitchen, Celebrate Brooklyn, the Knitting Factory, the Palladium, the Beacon Theater, P. S. 122, the Guggenheim Museums, Studio 54, the Whitney Museum, Danceteria, the Performing Garage, Issue Project Room, the Peppermint Lounge, and the Mudd Club in NYC, "Late Night with David Letterman," Nickelodeon, the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Wiltern Theater in LA, the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston, the Milwaukee Art Museum, The Maine Festival, the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, the NY 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, DC, Miami and New York, the NY 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 Austria, the Festival D'Automne in Paris, the Venice Biennale, and several solo concert tours of Japan and Italy.
As an actor/musician, he has appeared in music-theater with Keith Carradine and Ellen Greene at the Joseph Papp Public Theater, in performance-art by Robert Longo, in photographs by William Wegman, and in video art by John Sanborn & Kit Fitzgerald and Nam June Paik. He 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 film, "Home of the Brave." He has also appeared in TV commercials for Sony, Levi's and Diet Coke (with Elton John), as well as King Crimson's music video "Heartbeat."
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, educational institutions and nightclubs throughout the world. "Ear to the Ground" has been shown at M.I.T., on the children's TV program "Shining Time Station" with Ringo Starr, and at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. In 1985, the video 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 BAM, 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. as the LP "These Things Happen." Hubbard Street Dance Chicago subsequently toured the world with a 1995 revival of "Fait Accompli."
Van Tieghem has also created original commissioned dance scores for Doug Varone & Dancers, The Boston Ballet, Elisa Monte Dance, Elizabeth Streb, Dawn Saito, The Pennsylvania Ballet, Wendy Perron Dance Company, Molissa Fenley, 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 in 1986, he collaborated with choreographer Wendy Perron as a dancer/composer to create their duet, "Divertissement," which was the inaugural performance in the Kitchen's current Chelsea location.
Van Tieghem composed the scores for Lizzie Borden's 1986 feature film "Working Girls," and "Penn & Teller's Invisible Thread," a sci-fi comedy directed by Bob Balaban. His music has also been heard on the TV shows "General Hospital," "Smithsonian World," "Entertainment Tonight," "Donahue," "Alive from Off-Center," "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," "Newton's Apple," "The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson," "Nature" and "Hard Copy," as well as the 1984 and 1992 Olympics TV coverage, Spalding Gray's TV spot for Virgin Atlantic Airlines, and the Broadway play "Six Degrees of Separation" by John Guare.
In 1987, Private Music released Van Tieghem's second album, "Safety In Numbers" (co-produced with Roma Baran), and the music video "Galaxy," 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 US composer/performance artist to present his work in the then-USSR as part of a new cultural exchange program.
In 1988, he premiered several new works of music, dance and performance at the Serious Fun! Festival at Lincoln Center, and collaborated as composer/performer with John Sanborn & Mary Perillo to create "Cause and Effect," a short film in High Definition Video, which was shown in the 1988 NY 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 NYC'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," at Dance Theater Workshop, co-created with choreographer/director Tina Dudek.
In 1990, he composed and performed in "Urchin One," a sci-fi theater piece created with sound sculptors Bill & Mary Buchen, as well as three plays by Mac Wellman: the award-winning En Garde Arts site-specific production of "Crowbar," directed by Richard Caliban at the historic Victory Theatre in Times Square; "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.
In 1991, he created new music for Montreal dance company La La La Human Steps, and for Larry Fessenden's feature film "No Telling" (a.k.a. "The Frankenstein Complex"), in which he also played a leading role as an actor. He composed the scores for the PBS "Great Performances/Dance In America" TV program "Michael Moschen: In Motion," and The Wooster Group's film "White Homeland Commando," featuring Ron Vawter and Willem Dafoe.
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, DC 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 Biennial. He also played a leading role in Dan Froot's music-theater piece "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, choreographed by Hilary Easton and directed by Travis Preston.
1995-96 projects included original music and sound design for ten Off-Broadway plays: "Don Juan in Chicago" by David Ives, "The Model Apartment" by Donald Margulies and "Sabina" by Willy Holtzman at Primary Stages; "Incommunicado" at the Judith Anderson Theatre; "Roberto Zucco" by Bernard Marie Koltes at Cucaracha; "Deviant Craft" at the Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage; "Antigone in New York" directed by Michael Mayer at the Vineyard Theatre; "Manhattan Kaidan" by Cate Woodruff at Mabou Mines; and "The Grey Zone" by Tim Blake Nelson at MCC Theater. He also composed the soundtrack for Ethan Silverman's film "Central Park," featuring Robert LaFosse, Stockard Channing and John Kelly, which was shown in the 1997 Sundance Film Festival.
In the summer of 1996 he scored and performed live in "Henry V" at the New York Shakespeare Festival in Central Park, directed by Doug Hughes. He also received a 1996 Drama Desk Award nomination for Best Sound Design for "The Grey Zone," and was awarded an Obie for Sustained Excellence of Music. Additional 1996 theater projects included Mac Wellman's "Fnu Lnu" at Soho Rep, "The Santaland Diaries" by David Sedaris, directed by Joe Mantello at the Atlantic Theater, and Sam Shepard's "Tooth of Crime (Second Dance)," with new songs by T Bone Burnett, at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. He also scored Tim Blake Nelson's feature film "Eye of God" (starring Martha Plimpton), presented in the 1997 Sundance Film Festival.
Notable Off-Broadway productions featuring Van Tieghem's music and/or sound design: David Rabe's "A Question of Mercy," directed by Doug Hughes, at NY Theater Workshop; "Good As New" by Peter Hedges at MCC Theater; "The Devils" by Elizabeth Egloff, directed by Garland Wright at NY Theater Workshop; "God's Heart" by Craig Lucas, directed by Joe Mantello at Lincoln Center; "Baby Anger" by Peter Hedges, starring Kristen Johnson, directed by Michael Mayer at Playwrights Horizons; two one-act plays by Arthur Miller, featuring Joseph Wiseman, directed by Joseph Chaikin at Signature Theater; and "Scotland Road" at Primary Stages, directed by Melia Bensussen, for which he received a 1998 Drama Desk nomination.
During the 1997-98 season, he was Resident Sound Designer at The Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, CT, and designed their productions of "She Stoops to Conquer," "A Question of Mercy," "Mystery School" and "Wit." He also received a 1997 Eddy Award, and a 1997 American Theater Wing Design Award nomination.
More Van Tieghem-designed shows Off-Broadway include the Drama Dept.'s long-running "As Bees In Honey Drown," by Douglas Carter Beane, directed by Mark Brokaw at the Lucille Lortel Theatre; the Pulitzer Prize-winning "How I Learned to Drive" by Paula Vogel, also directed by Brokaw, starring Mary-Louise Parker and David Morse, at the Century Center Theater; the En Garde Arts production of "Mystery School" with Tyne Daly, directed by Doug Hughes; Jon Robin Baitz's "Mizlansky/Zilinsky or 'Schmucks'" at Manhattan Theatre Club, starring Nathan Lane, directed by Joe Mantello; "Nasty Little Secrets" at Primary Stages, featuring David McCallum; Craig Lucas' "The Dying Gaul," directed by Mark Brokaw at the Vineyard Theater; John Patrick Shanley's "Cellini" at NY Stage & Film and Second Stage; "The Turn of the Screw" at Primary Stages (Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Music); "An Experiment with a Air Pump" directed by Doug Hughes; Terence McNally's controversial "Corpus Christi" at Manhattan Theatre Club, directed by Joe Mantello; Paula Vogel's "The Mineola Twins" at the Roundabout with Swoosie Kurtz and Julie Kavner, also directed by Mantello; "Stop Kiss" directed by Jo Bonney at the Public Theater (Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Sound Design); "Romeo and Juliet" at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, starring Neil Patrick Harris, directed by Daniel Sullivan; Naomi Wallace's "The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek" at NY Theater Workshop, directed by Lisa Peterson; Sam Shepard's "Fool for Love" at the McCarter, directed by Emily Mann; "King Lear" at Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, DC; and "Jolson Sings Again" by Arthur Laurents at George Street Playhouse.