Rhys Chatham: The Sun Too Close to the Earth / Jonathan Kane & Zeena Parkins: On Suzanne
October 4th & 5th, ISSUE is pleased to present the world premiere of The Sun Too Close to the Earth, an expansive new work by iconoclast composer and multi-instrumentalist Rhys Chatham. Commissioned by ISSUE and presented as a part of the French Institute Alliance Françaises (FIAF) thirteenth annual Crossing the Line Festival, the piece spans Chathams aesthetic concerns across thirty years of composing for electric guitar ensembles, as well as the minimalist and free jazz traditions that grew out of NYC's downtown music scene.
The Sun Too Close to the Earth is a fully notated composition, combined with improvisational elements, written for a nine-person ensemble with electric guitars in special tunings, horns, keyboard, and percussion. The ensemble features many ISSUE friends and luminaries within the Downtown NYC experimental music scene, including Jonathan Kane, Anthony Coleman, Ernie Brooks, and Karen Haglof, as well as Jaimie Branch, Anna Roberts-Gevalt, Sarah Register, Reut Regev, and Jen Baker.
In this piece, Chatham draws from his roots composing for electric guitar ensembles of widely varying forces, incorporating the overtone drenched minimalism of the early 1960s with the relentless elemental fury of the Ramones -- the textual intricacies of the classical avant-garde colliding with the visceral punch of punk rock. The Sun Too Close to the Earth combines these influences with Chathams more recent experience as a wind player, deploying extended playing techniques inherited from the glory days of the minimalist and free jazz period of New Yorks East Village in the early 1970s.
Until now, Rhys has kept the two strains of composition in separate camps. With The Sun Too Close to the Earth, Chatham blends these two bodies of work into one, to arrive at a post-urban music that reflects the artists concern for the ravages of climate change and the senseless destruction of our planet.
Chatham also performs the North American premiere of his 20-minute solo work Le Possédé for bass flute. The piece continues Chathams explorations of the possibilities offered by the early minimalist period of downtown Manhattan. During the early 1970s, Chatham played in La Monte Young's Theater of Eternal Music, with Tony Conrad in an early version of The Dream Syndicate, and in trio formation with Charlemagne Palestine and Tony Conrad. Chatham draws on these experiences to arrive at a musical vocabulary which is reminiscent of this exciting period in New York, transforming the sound in a way that could only happen in the present decade.
Renowned experimental musicians Zeena Parkins and Jonathan Kane also perform the world premiere of On, Suzanne, dedicated to ISSUEs founder Suzanne Fiol. Inspired by the poem Some 'American Sentences' On Suzanne by the late Holly Anderson, the event marks the first ever collaboration of these two legends of Downtown NYC music.
Harp: Zeena Parkins
Drums: Jonathan Kane
Bass flute: Rhys Chatham
The Sun Too Close to the Earth
Electric guitars: Karen Haglof, Anna Roberts-Gevalt, Sarah Register
Electric bass: Ernie Brooks
Drums: Jonathan Kane
Electric keyboard: Anthony Coleman
Trumpet: Jaimie Branch
Trombones: Jen Baker, Reut Regev
Conductor: Rhys Chatham
Rhys Chatham is a composer and multi-instrumentalist from Manhattan, currently living in
Paris (where he has lived since 1988), who fuses avant-garde minimalism with the electric crunch of punk rock. Chatham's instrumentation includes the seminal composition composed in 1977 entitled Guitar Trio for 3 electric guitars, electric bass and drums, the epoch evening-length work for 100 electric guitars, An Angel Moves Too Fast to See, composed in 1989, Chatham's recent composition for 200 electric guitars, A Crimson Grail, most recently performed to the Sydney Festival in 2018, and a new piece for 100 electric guitars, A Secret Rose. Chatham is currently touring as a solo performer, playing versions of his recently released LP, A Pythagorean Dream, from Foom Records.
Karen Haglof, guitarist, played in Rhys Chathams guitar ensembles in the 1980s and 90s, as well as with the Band of Susans, Robert Longo, and others. Haglof went on to study medicine and is now a hematologist and oncologist in private practice affiliated with NYU. In 2011 she began working on music again, with four releases since 2014, most recently the full-length Tobiano in 2019. She always hopes to combine a variety of influences in her work, including minimalism, lo-fi and indie rock, and best appreciates the descriptor avant roots-rocker. She is working now on a music and animation project called 3EarJack. She is very happy playing for Rhys Chatham whenever he should call.
Sarah Register is a musician & mastering engineer with over 20 years experience uniting sound, vision, compassion and expression. Talk Normal, her duo formed in 2007, toured frequently for many years, covering much of North American, Europe & Japan in the company of tourmates like Wire, Xiu Xiu, Future Islands, Zola Jesus, Tune-Yards & U.S. Girls, as well as special performances with Sonic Youth, Ut, Lydia Lunch, & Boss Hog. In others projects, Register has performed at Coachella, Bonnaroo & more, plus participated in a variety of unique performances including various iterations of artist Naama Tsabars Composition pieces. Register's engineering work is also extensive & acclaimed.
Anna Roberts-Gevalt is a Brooklyn-based artist whose work moves outward from her immersion in traditional music, having apprenticed with elder masters of banjo and fiddle in rural Kentucky. Her multi-media collaboration with ballad singer Elizabeth LaPrelle was heralded a radical expansion of what folk songs are supposed to do by the New Yorker, and have performed at Carnegie Hall, Cafe Oto, Big Ears Festival, NPRs Tiny Desk Concert and were MacDowell Colony fellows. She has recently worked with Jim White, Susan Alcorn, Leo Abrahams, Robbie Lee and Timo Andres; is a 2019 artist in residence at the Smithsonian; and is pursuing an MFA in Sculpture at Bard College.
Israeli-born and raised trombonist Reut Regev has been in New York creating and exploring music for over 20 years. Reut enjoys playing with some of the most influential experimental composers and bands blending styles and cultures, and traditional sounds. She has recorded and toured with Anthony Braxton, Butch Morris, Elliott Sharp, Burton Greene, Hazmat Modine, Metropolitan Klezmer, Joe Battan, and many more. Reut co-leads Reut Regevs R*time with her husband, drummer Igal Foni. The personnel includes legendary free funk guitarist Jean-Paul Bourelly, as well as master bassist Mark Peterson. The group has released three internationally acclaimed records, and has toured extensively.
Jen Baker, trombonist/composer, has collaborated with artists all over the world in site-specific mixed media performance, concert halls, solo and chamber commissions. As an improviser she is featured on the soundtrack to Werner Herzog's Oscar-nominated Encounters at the End of the World. She has performed internationally in festivals and has toured with Arijit Singh, Karole Armitage, and Mansour, and new music ensembles S.E.M., TILT brass, and the mobile ensemble Asphalt Orchestra (founding member). Her book, Hooked on Multiphonics, aides composers and trombonists in understanding and executing the deep complexities of multiphonics.
Pianist and composer Anthony Coleman has been one of the key figures of New York music for nearly four decades. His work bridges the gap between Composition and Improvisation, Uptown and Downtown, and spans a wide range of genres and practices including Free Improvisation, Jazz, Jewish music (of various types), and Contemporary Chamber Music. Balancing a powerful sense of structural logic and expressionistic color, Coleman has had a prolific career as a composer and improviser. He has been a member of the faculty of the New England Conservatory since 2006 and has also taught at Bennington College, the Bard MFA program, and the Mannes College of Music.
After days spent in Boston as a founding member of The Modern Lovers, Ernie Brooks returned to his native New York City in the mid 70s to work with Arthur Russell, encountering Rhys Chatham and other collaborators in that nexus of experimental musics that linked the original Kitchen with CBGB. With drummer Jonathan Kane he went on to power the massed instruments of Chathams ensembles (from 6 guitars to the 100 of An Angel Moves Too Fast To See). Hes played with the Necessaries, Love Of Life Orchestra, David Johansen, Glenn Branca, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Lucas, Jerry Harrison, Chris Spending, Peter Zummo, Joyce Bowden, Matt Mottell, Steve Shelley, Jean Francois Pauvros. He lives in LIC and will until the waters rise.
Jonathan Kane began his career as the 15 year old co-leader of Kane Bros. Blues Band, touring the Northeastern US opening for blues legends Muddy Waters, James Cotton, Willie Dixon and others. After studying at Berklee College of Music, he joined the NYC Downtown Music scene. He co-founded Swans with Michael Gira, and has toured and recorded internationally with La Monte Youngs Forever Bad Bad Blues Band, Rhys Chathams 100 Electric Guitar Orchestra, Dave Soldier, Transmission, Circus Mort, Elliott Sharp, Gary Lucas, Jean-François Pauvros, and as leader of his own maximalist blues drone band Jonathan Kanes February.
Electro-acoustic composer/performer, multi-instrumentalist, improviser, and pioneer of contemporary harp performance, Zeena Parkins re-imagines both the acoustic harp and an evolution of her original electric ones, through the use of expanded playing techniques, preparations, and custom designed processing. Within a shifting constellation of improvised, composed/gesture/touch/space/sound/noise/music, Parkins is engaged in translations of sonicity within and between environments: architectural, emotional, topographical, and social. Awards include the Guggenheim Fellowship, Doris Duke Artist Award, DAAD Fellowship, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, NYFA Fellowship, Herb Alpert/Ucross Prize, and three New York Dance and Performance Awards/ Bessies for her groundbreaking work with dance. Zeena Parkins is a Distinguished Visiting Artist at Mills College in Oakland, California.
Holly Anderson (1955-2017) was a poet, artist, lyricist, and frequent collaborator in a variety of creative disciplines. An active participant in downtown New York City experimental scenes starting in the early 1980s, Anderson created interdisciplinary works with many other artists: she wrote texts for choreographers Bebe Miller and Kinematic, theater companies Dear Knows and Music Theater Group, and her lyrics were recorded by musicians including Mission of Burma and Consonant. Andersons artists books are in library collections including MOMA, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Victoria & Albert Museum, The Brooklyn Museum, The Harry Ransom Center at UT, Austin and The Downtown Collection at Fales Library, NYU.
Suzanne Fiol (1960-2009) was an extraordinary spirit, a force of nature, and a prominent figure in the visual and performing arts worlds. In 2003, Fiol founded ISSUE Project Room in response to a dearth of art centers fostering innovative creative practice. Throughout her artistic career and as Founder and Director of ISSUE, Suzanne advocated for art that blurred disciplines and pushed the boundaries of artistic practices. As a photographer, Suzannes work appeared in many publications and was exhibited nationally and internationally. Her photos can be found in many private collections including The Art Institute of Chicago, The Brooklyn Museum, The Queens Museum, and The Milwaukee Art Museum. On October 5th, 2009, Suzanne lost her courageous battle with cancer.
Holly & Suzanne are deeply loved and missed by all.
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