August 3, 2019: Brazenly Self-Effacing at the Modern

Some of the greatest new ideas of twentieth-century music – minimalism, ambient music, chance music – are brazenly self-effacing. Much like the artists featured in Disappearing – California, c. 1970, modern composers sometimes go to heroic lengths to negate their own identity and agency, often asking that the performers of their music do the same. John Cage famously removed his decision-making authority from his music, deferring to the oracle of the I Ching. Composers of the Fluxus movement challenged the assumptions and traditions of concert music, creating an invitation to explore shared behaviors in a public space. Steve Reich’s early phase music negated active intervention of composer and performers in favor of an inexorable process set in motion.

At 2:00 pm on August 3, 2019, in conjunction with the Disappearing exhibition, Sounds Modern will present Brazenly Self-Effacing, a musical drama of impermanence and disappearance, made up of compositions that reveal the beauty that emerges when ego and identity are stripped away from the process of making music. Works by Cage, Reich, Kaija Saariaho, Seth Shafer, Arthur Jarvinen, Meiko Shiomi, Christina Kubisch, Alison Knowles, Jackson Mac Low, and Emmett Williams will be performed by vocalist Sarah Ruth Alexander, violist Kathleen Crabtree, violinists Mia Detwiler and Andrew May, percussionist West Fox, flutist and Sounds Modern director Elizabeth McNutt, cellist Kourtney Newton, trombonist Jeremiah Stones, oboist Jonathan Thompson, pianist Shannon Wettstein, conductor Garrison Gerard, and special guests Ermir Bejo, Sungji Hong, and Panayiotis Kokoras. Admission is free and open to the public (museum admission is separate).


Christina Kubisch, Private Piece
Meiko Shiomi, Wind Music No. 2, Fluxversion I

Act I: Impermanence and Imperfection
Arthur Jarvinen, First Principles of Aerodynamics
Christina Kubisch, It’s So Touchy
Seth Shafer, Polytera II

Entr’acte I
 Alison Knowles, Newspaper Event

Act II: The Burning Ground
Kaija Saariaho, Cendres

Entr’acte II
Christina Kubisch, Break
Emmett Williams, Emotional Duet
Emmett Williams, Ten Arrangements for Five Performers

Act III: The Release of Self
John Cage, Music for Eleven

Jackson Mac Low, Thanks: a simultaneity for the people

Afterword (in the Lobby of the Modern)
Steve Reich, Pendulum Music