Femenine: Julius Eastman + Wild Up
Please join us at The Broad for a live concert of “Femenine” by maverick composer Julius Eastman, co-presented with and performed by critically acclaimed classical music ensemble Wild Up. Eastman was an American maverick and radical who 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’s special exhibition, This is Not America’s Flag, Eastman was also an activist who deployed his life experiences as a gay African American as the impetus to question what it means to be American and an artist, and the ideals of United States and western classical music. Wild Up Artistic Director Christopher Rountree launched the ensemble in 2010 with a vision that rejected outdated traditions and threw classical repertoire into the context of pop culture, new music, and performance art.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 Julius 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.
—Seth Parker Woods (excerpted from the Wild Up recording liner notes)
Co-presented with Wild Up.
Program is approximately 70 minutes long, no intermission. Seating for this event is not assigned. Please note that the museum closes at 6:00 p.m. and lobby doors re-open at 7:30 p.m. for this event only—museum galleries will not be open during the event.
Tickets to this event include access to The Broad’s galleries, including the special exhibitions This Is Not America’s Flag and Takashi Murakami: Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow from Wednesday, July 20 through Wednesday, July 27 during regular museum hours—simply present your event ticket at the main entrance of the museum, no reservations required.
Tickets to this event do not include access to Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away (2013) which must be booked separately here.
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Julius Eastman (1940–1990) was an American composer, pianist, vocalist, dancer, and musical maverick who pushed the accepted limits of 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, such as Evil Nigger and Gay Guerrilla, speaking to his identity as an African American gay man and challenging the dominant racism and homophobia of the classical music world and in society 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.
Eastman died alone at the age of 49 in Buffalo, New York of cardiac arrest. No public notice was given to his death until an obituary appeared in the Village Voice eight months after Eastman died. His inventiveness and contribution to contemporary music is just becoming recognized.
Called “a raucous, grungy, irresistibly exuberant … fun-loving, exceptionally virtuosic family” by Zachary Woolfe of the New York Times, Wild Up has been lauded as one of classical music’s most exciting groups.
Over the past decade under the guidance of Artistic Director Christopher Rountree, the now Grammy-nominated group has 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 twelve 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.
The first record in their 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.
Watch and Listen: Wild Up - Julius Eastman Vol. 1: Femenine—Unison