CTM 2018 will open with an homage to Julius Eastman, the mercurial gay African American composer who mixed canny minimalist innovation with head-on political provocation.
Conceived for twin pianos, live electronics, and voice, this exhilarating sonic exploration led by Jace Clayton, a.k.a. DJ /rupture, brings fresh insight to Eastman’s artistic legacy. The Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner is built around new arrangements of “Evil Nigger” (1979) and “Gay Guerrilla” (1980), two of Eastman's most important, if rarely performed, piano compositions. As Clayton uses his own custom-designed “Sufi Plug Ins” software to live-process the pianos of David Friend and Emily Manzo, he also intersperses musical vignettes to lend context and nuance to the composer's saga, which was cut short in 1990 at age 49.
Setting the stage for the festival’s opening concert will be multidisciplinary artist and researcher Zorka Wollny. The main focus of her new commissioned work, Dissent, is the voice – the power and possibilities it offers for expressing needs and having a say in the public debate. This short composition explores a broad range of vocal expression, from powerless whispers to screaming. Fragments of text appear against this backdrop, emerging as single syllables, interrupted words, incomplete slogans, fragments of postulates, manifestos or prayers. The disaffection, stress, and anger over daily abuse related to class, race, and gender differences are released via sighs or screams by the vocalists, who thus attempt to put a dissidence beyond words into a solid musical piece. Led by singers Angela Wingerath and Anna Clementi, the choir consists of: Ada Kowalewski, Anna Münster, Anne-Kerstin Hege, Dace Šteinerte, David Marnuse, Donya Solaimani, Drury Brennan, Evelyn Saylor, Evie Pardoe, Felicitas Schreier, Gizem Akman, Jan Philipp Engelke, Kathy Alberici, Khalil Riahi, Lisa Baeyens, Malgorzata Czubak, Nori Niki, Robert Wimpory, Rosa Gerhards, Teresa Scherhag, and Zuzanna Czajkowska.
The CTM 2018 Opening Concert is funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media. With the kind support of the Polish Institute Berlin and of Yamaha Music Europe.
Jace Clayton, otherwise known as DJ/rupture, is a New York-based artist, DJ and writer. His book Uproot: Travels in 21st-Century Music and Digital Culture was published in 2016; it chronicles artistic production in our contemporary, networked world, and traverses a range of sounds, from Israeli techno to indie-rock.
Emily Manzo is a pianist, songwriter and vocalist. She has performed throughout the U.S and Europe in concerts and festivals of chamber music, experimental music and rock music. Time Out New York called her “a uniquely protean artist who makes several scenes move.”
David Friend is dedicated to ensuring the continued relevance of the art of the piano in contemporary culture. As chamber musician, soloist, and in interdisciplinary projects, he participates in projects that push boundaries and explore new ideas about what contemporary piano playing can be in the twenty-first century.
Zorka Wollny creates acoustic compositions for institutions, factories and empty buildings. Her works inhabit a space between art, theatre and contemporary music, and are always closely connected to the historic and functional context of specific architectural sites.
Julius Eastman (1940-1990) was a mercurial, gay, African-American composer who mixed canny minimalist innovation with head-on political provocation. He is known for his fusion of minimalist compositional techniques with certain conventions of pop music, as well for his provocative, politically motivated compositions.