The Broad Museum proudly announces a special performance of composer Julius Eastman’s “Femenine,” performed by 16-member classical collective Wild Up on July 23rd. This event comes alongside the return of the museum’s beloved Summer Happenings series. Tickets are $20.00 and the performance begins at 8 PM in The Broad’s ground floor lobby. Tickets available at thebroad.org
Wild Up has been lauded as one of classical music’s most exciting groups. Artistic Director Christopher Rountree launched the ensemble in 2010 with a vision that rejected outdated traditions and threw classical repertoire into the context of pop culture, new music, and performance art.
Femenine, an expansive 60+ minute jam controlled by stop-watch timings, is the epitome of Eastman’s long form “organic music.” Organic music refers to an additive process whereby each phrase of a piece contains a bit of the previous phrase. Within Femenine, Eastman adds, subtracts, and evolves material based on a 13-beat “Prime” melody that is made up of two notes. The piece exists entirely in E-flat major with momentary clashes of bitonality. Underscoring or surrounding, depending on how you listen, is an almost cosmically camp clamoring of bells that lulls performers and listeners into some sort of trance.
The first record in Wild Up’s Eastman anthology Julius Eastman Vol. 1: Femenine has been lauded as “A masterpiece.” (New York Times) “instantly recognizable” (Vogue) and “singularly jubilant . . . a bit in your face, sometimes capricious, and always surprising.” (NPR). NPR named the record among the top ten records of 2021 in all genres. Declared “a raucous, grungy, irresistibly exuberant … fun-loving, exceptionally virtuosic family” by Zachary Woolfe of the New York Times and Pitchfork awarded it an 8.1 score.
NPR Music has already praised Julius Eastman Vol 2: Joy Boy — the second entry in Wild Up’s anthology just released this month on New Amsterdam Records — as “glorious” while the Wall Street Journal says that “in its dramatic variation and reverence, Wild Up’s take on Eastman’s work seems particularly faithful to the versatile and cantankerous spirit of the man.” Listen to Wild Up’s “exhilarating” performance of “Stay On It” here.
An American maverick and radical, Julius Eastman challenged the exclusionary foundations of European classical music and organized his compositions as tools for social change. Much like the artists featured in The Broad Museum’s new special exhibition “This is Not America’s Flag,” Eastman was also an activist who deployed his life experiences as an African American gay man as a creative force to question what it means to be American, an artist, and the ideals of United States and western classical music. He was one of the first composers to combine minimalist arrangements with elements of pop music and other experimental approaches. Eastman frequently titled his compositions with provocative political statements, speaking to his identity as a Black gay man and to challenge the dominant racism and homophobia of the classical music world and in general. Because he was so ahead of his time, he was often ostracized by his peers and finding work became increasingly difficult. Many of Eastman’s compositions were lost when he was evicted from his New York apartment, and his notational methods were loose and open to interpretation. Consequently, revivals of his music have been challenging and largely dependent on his close colleagues.
Wild Up has been continually challenging boundaries of classic music. Over the past decade the, now Grammy-nominated group: accompanied Björk at Goldenvoice’s FYF Fest; brought a Julius Eastman portrait to the National Gallery; premiered David Lang and Mark Dion’s “anatomy theater” at LA Opera; gave the west coast premiere of Ragnar Kjartansson’s 12-hour Mozartian epic “Bliss;” played the scores to Under the Skin by Mica Levi and Punch Drunk Love by Jon Brion live with the films at L.A.’s Regent Theater and Ace Hotel; premiered a new opera by Julia Holter at Brooklyn’s National Sawdust; premiered a new work of avant-pop icon Scott Walker and celestial loop-maker Juliana Barwick at Walt Disney Concert Hall; played a noise concert-fanfare for the groundbreaking of Frank Gehry’s new building on Grand Avenue and First Street in downtown L.A.; premiered hundreds of other works; held performance and educational residencies at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Colburn School, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, National Sawdust, the Hammer Museum, the Getty, and dozens of educational institutions across the U.S.; and started an annual winter festival in LA celebrating ecstatic music making and mindfulness practice called Darkness Sounding.
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