ANTHONY BRAXTON THEATER IMPROVISATIONS Premieres at the Brick Theater

Performances are June 15-17, 2023, 8:00pm.

By: Jun. 06, 2023
ANTHONY BRAXTON THEATER IMPROVISATIONS Premieres at the Brick Theater

In celebration of the 78th birthday (June 4, 1945) of Anthony Braxton—one of the most important musicians, educators, and creative thinkers of our time, as well as a mentor to EiO—Experiments in Opera presents a rare run of performances of Compositions No. 279-283, composed in 2000 for improvisational actor and improvising musicians. This production was originally scheduled to be part of the Braxton75 festivities in 2020, in collaboration with the Tri-Centric Foundation, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

While these works have been recorded, they have never been performed live. Drawing on Braxton’s complex systems of graphic notation, character development, and narrative poetics, these compositions ask performers to engage with newspaper clippings, traditional improv comedy techniques, and historical comedy tropes, all in the name of creating a dynamic and surprising evening of music and theater.

These compositions were originally recorded by Braxton and Alex Horwitz as Four Compositions (Duets) 2000 (CIMP). At the time, many traditionalists derided these performances as a ‘leap of faith.’ And they are often brought up as an example of the extraordinary risks that Braxton has taken throughout his career to explore a broad palate of performance possibilities.

Anthony Braxton Theater Improvisations will run at The Brick from June 15-17 and will feature director/performer Rob Reese, as well as a different set of musical improvisors for each night of the run: renowned improvisers Kamala Sankaram (vocals), Nate Wooley (trumpet), James Fei (saxophones), and Ingrid Laubrock (saxophones). Sankaram has sung on every recording of vocal music that Braxton has made thus far: Trillium E, Syntactical GTM Choir (NYC) 2011, GTM (Syntax) 2017, and Trillium J. Together, these performers are re-interpreting Braxton’s scores through the lens of Experimental Opera traditions and shedding light on the avant garde nature of Anthony’s work.

Anthony Braxton taught the three founders of Experiments in Opera (Jason Cady, Aaron Siegel, and Matthew Welch) when they were students at Wesleyan University. Kamala Sankaram has sung under the direction of Anthony for his Trillium J opera.

Co-founded in Brooklyn in 2011 by composers Aaron Siegel, Matthew Welch, and Jason Cady, Experiments in Opera (EiO) has commissioned 85 new works in nine years, from 55 composers collaborating with over three hundred performers, designers, and directors from the New York City artists community. In fall 2018, EiO welcomed composer/vocalist Kamala Sankaram onto staff as Co-Artistic Director.

Experiments in Opera is focused on re-writing the story of opera and believes that new operas can be adventurous and fun, focused on strong and intimate storytelling, while also challenging notions of what experimental music can be. EiO invites composers, directors, designers, and performers to create new work that embraces unconventional mediums, a range of durations and production scales, and explores collaboration between all types of artists working to share their visions. EiO brings new operas to the stage as quickly as possible, marking the urgency of artists with something important to say and the desire of audiences to be a part of the excitement of risky and rewarding work.

EiO has produced events at Roulette and Issue Project Room in Brooklyn, as well as at Symphony Space, HERE, Merkin Concert Hall, The Stone, Le Poisson Rouge, Anthology Film Archives, and Abrons Arts Center in Manhattan. Since 2018, EiO has been an anchor partner in residence at The Flea Theater in Tribeca. Experiments in Opera has presented the work of 55 composers since their first presentation including Jason Cady, Aaron Siegel, Matthew Welch, Kamala Sankaram, Tariq Al-Sabir, Georges Aperghis, Robert Ashley, Clarice Assad, Roddy Bottom, Gelsey Bell, Andrew Raffo Dewar, Joe Diebes, Natacha Diels, Melissa Dunphy, Lainie Fefferman, Miguel Frasconi, Anne Guthrie, James Ilgenfritz, Paul Kerekes, Pauline Kim Harris, John King, Phil Kline, Daniel Kushner, Ruby Fulton, Gabrielle Herbst, Nick Hallett, Travis Just, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Joan La Barbara, Lukas Ligeti, Charlie Looker, Cristina Lord, Emily Manzo, Paula Matthusen, Anna Mikailhova, Jonathan Mitchell, Nicole Murphy, Jascha Narveson, Pauline Oliveros, Jessica Pavone, Paul Pinto, Erin Rogers, Dave Ruder, Elliott Sharp, JG Thirlwell, Justin Tierney, Leaha Maria Villarreal, Dorian Wallace, Shelley Washington, Michi Wiancko, Katie Young, John Zorn, and the Cough Button collective.

All of the work developed with Experiments in Opera is documented extensively in videos, images, and writings that are available in an online catalogue at experimentsinopera.com. These insightful looks into the origins of artists’ ideas and their working habits help to support EiO’s mission of building a more robust conversation about how and why opera works the way it does.




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