I never visited the Warehouse, the Chicago club where legendary Frankie Knuckles was DJ (and where the moniker “House Music” was born), but I was lucky enough to dance all night at the Power Plant, the club he opened there in the early 1980s. Later, during a visit to NYC in the summer of 1983 (before I moved here in 1987), my friends took me out for a delirious pilgrimage to hear the mighty sounds of Larry Levan at Paradise Garage. This former garage at 84 King Street was a place of few words. Dance was the message. Read more
Posts tagged ‘music’
The first Saturday Session of 2011 took place this past weekend in the third floor Main Gallery of MoMA PS1. I organized the program and hosted the day. The afternoon featured the artist Adam Helms in discussion with writer and curator Klaus Kertess, followed by a live performance by Detroit noise blues duo STARE CASE, featuring John Olson and Nate Young. Read more
In the video interview above, artists Allora & Calzadilla (Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla) talk about their piece Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on “Ode to Joy” for a Prepared Piano, which is being performed at MoMA through January 11 as part of the Performance Exhibition Series. The duo have the remarkable talent for being playful and political at the same time. In their work they often juxtapose two contradicting elements, creating something new and unexpected. For Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on Ode to Joy for a Prepared Piano, the artists cut a hole in the middle of a grand piano and hired professional pianists to stand in it and play Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” upside down and in reverse, while walking the piano around the exhibition space. The result is a marvelous performance piece that is at first startling, then hilarious, and lastly, thought-provoking. Read more
The July 11 opening of Summergarden 2010 draws near. The program book has gone to press. All arrangements are in order. Rehearsals once again show how the remarkable young musicians of the New Juilliard Ensemble can conquer pretty much any musical problem. Read more
The tragically unrequited love, the driving need to be accepted as a serious artist, the longing for success that never quite came (he sold only one painting during his lifetime)—most people are just as familiar with the story of Vincent van Gogh‘s life as they are with his art. Full of thick strokes and rich colors, van Gogh’s paintings express his passion and pathos. His many self-portraits show him to be sad or dispirited. Aware of his struggles, we are drawn into his paintings. The reality he captures is one we want to experience. Read more
In my first post I talked about how seven master painters in MoMA’s collection inspired me to write Portrait in Seven Shades, an hour-long piece of music being performed by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra over the next several nights. The piece has seven movements, each dedicated to a different painter. Yesterday, I wrote about how I was inspired by Monet’s treatment of light and surface in his triptych Water Lilies. Today I’d like to talk about another movement in the suite, this one inspired by Salvador Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory.
Dalí‘s work incorporates familiar images and objects in unfamiliar settings and combinations, creating a sense of discomfort or insecurity in the viewer. His paintings allude to violence, sexuality, and secrets living in one’s subconscious. The Persistence of Memory depicts a barren landscape populated by melting clocks; I was inspired by this surreal scene to develop an unusual time signature, 13/8. Embracing the effect of this painting I have found sounds and approaches to harmony that are familiar on their own, but take on an unsettling effect with the particular way they are combined.
In “Dalí,” which is basically a disguised blues, the persistent drum groove exposes a little of the aggressive quality of this painting, and the melody, played in thirds by trumpet and alto, exists in a different tonal center from the bass, like a lost creature searching. A flamenco-like clave—supporting a drum solo and emphasized by the orchestra’s hand clapping—references Dalí’s Spanish heritage.
Portrait in Seven Shades tells a story about seven painters—not through words, as in a museum description, but through music. Many parallels can be drawn between art and music. Like painters, musicians talk of colors, layers and composition. Several stylistic descriptors—impressionistic, abstract, pop—are common to both fields. And of course there is the blues.
When Wynton Marsalis, artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, asked me to compose a long-form piece, it didn’t take me long to come up with a concept that would truly inspire me to write an hour’s worth of music: it would be a piece with seven movements, each dedicated to a different painter. It was hard narrowing it down to only seven painters, as there are so many artists that I truly admire, but the list ultimately included Monet, Dali, Matisse, Picasso, van Gogh, Chagall, and Pollock. I wanted the listener to hear music that evokes images with which they are already familiar, and to see these paintings in a new, fresh way.
For the Monet movement, I used the triptych Water Lilies as a main inspiration. I feel that Monet embellished reality by diffusing it, using colors and textures to create fantasy. We feel nature, water, air – things that are very basic. When you stand up close to this sprawling canvas you lose sight of reality; instead you see the strokes, gesture, and textures.
I hope that you’ll return to INSIDE/OUT to experience the six other movements, as I’ll be writing about each one over the next seven days.