Friday 26 April 2019, 7.30pm
The great contemporary music ensemble, Apartment House, present 'Femenine' by the late, great American composer, Julius Eastman, who has undergone a long overdue and much deserved popular and critical reapparaisal nearly three decades after his premature death in 1990.
Femenine is a open instrumental score, existing only as a fragmentary and elusive sketchey score in Eastman’s hand. Lasting over 60 minutes, and propelled by the sound of sleigh bells and an insistent, yet compelling riff, the piece is hypnotic, chaotic, transcendentary, alarming and ecstatic, exemplifying Eastman's own maximal minimalism. Written in 1974 its 'luminous ovals of sound' (New Yorker) has been given new life by Apartment House.
Julius Eastman (October 27, 1940 – May 28, 1990) was an African-American composer, pianist, vocalist, and dancer. He was among the first musicians to combine minimalist processes with elements of pop music. He often gave his pieces titles with provocative political intent, such as Evil Nigger and Gay Guerrilla. Eastman died alone at the age of 49 in Millard Fillmore Hospital in Buffalo, New York. No public notice was given to his death until an obituary by Kyle Gann appeared in the Village Voice, it was dated January 22, 1991, eight months after Eastman died.
The group, created by cellist Anton Lukoszevieze in 1995, has been captivating audiences with performances of avant-garde and experimental music all over the World, from Moscow to Vancouver and from Barcelona to Vilnius. Recent performances further afield include tours of Russia, Canada and a nine-concert series in Melbourne, Australia.
The ensemble has been a firm fixture on the British concert scene, with regular performances at Café Oto and a recent residency at the Wigmore Hall. Apartment House is the most frequently featured UK ensemble in the history of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and its 2011 concert of music by John Cage sold out the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre. The ensemble has made a substantial number of live and studio recordings for BBC Radio 3 as well as live recordings for many European stations including Danish Radio DR, Swedish Radio 2, WDR Cologne, ORTF Austria, Radio France and Deutschlandfunk, Berlin.
Over the past 20 years or so it has championed music by emerging or undeservedly little-known composers and has commissioned over 100 new works. Highlights along the way include Jennifer Walshe’s radical ‘Barbie’ opera XXX_LIVE_NUDE_GIRLS!!!, with performances in six countries, and Saskia Moore’s Dead Symphony, a fusion of social documentary, art, biological science and music on near death experiences. Notable portrait events have featured composers Christian Wolff, Luc Ferrari, Alison Knowles, Christopher Fox, Vitalija Gloivackyte, Laurence Crane, Helmut Oehring, Claudia Molitor, David Behrman, Jobina Tinnemans and Richard Ayres.
Unusually for a new music ensemble, Apartment House is equally at home at classical music venues (Wigmore Hall, Southbank Centre), crossover venues (Cafe Oto), art galleries (Serpentine Galleries, Turner Contemporary, Whitechapel Gallery) and international festivals (HCMF, MaerzMusik, Wien Modern, Ultima, Witten New Music Days), demonstrating its appeal to a wide range of audiences.
Over the years Apartment House has gradually increased its recording output, focusing on key releases by experimental composers such as George Maciunas and Laurence Crane, which received widespread acclaim (‘compellingly beautiful’ The Guardian). The group recently began a long term relationship with the UK label Another Timbre, releasing albums of music by Joseph Kudirka, James Saunders, Chiyoko Slavnics, Linda Catlin Smith and Martin Arnold.