The Getty Center
All performances take place in the Harold M. Williams Auditorium at the Getty Center. Parking is $10 after 3:00 p.m.
PIANO-GRAPHS: New Music for the Player Piano
Inspired by Paper Promises: Early American Photography
Date: Saturday, May 26, 2018
Time: 6:00–9:00 p.m.
Location: Museum Entrance Hall
Admission: Free; no reservations required.
Photography—the mechanical box that is the camera, and the intricate image it renders—bears unexpected and fascinating relationships to another technology that emerged in the mid-19th century: the player piano. While one object concerns vision and the other sound, they both surpassed the abilities of the human hand. Just as few artist's brushes rival a photographic presentation of reality, even the most virtuosic fingers lag behind the automated capacity of a player piano.
This debut of new compositions by contemporary experimental musicians for the player piano complements Paper Promises: Early American Photography, an exhibition that traces a period marked by experimentation with photography on paper. PIANO-GRAPHS brings together a group of musicians both connected and disconnected to the piano. Functioning like an early computer, the player piano reads code via a pneumatic device: air passing through the holes on the paper sheet inflates a bellows that triggers a key strike. In this sense, its mechanized programming links it to proto-electronic music. Some of the commisisoned musicians typically work with electronics, or translate their traditional instruments through them. Some are keyboard players, but others are composing on the instrument for the first time. Several of these musicians approached their compositions visually, generating sounds from specific shapes or symbols on the paper.
Contributing artists include electronic musicians and visual artists John Wiese and Celia Hollander, experimental percussionists Corey Fogel and Dean Spunt (of No Age), harpist Mary Lattimore, Nashville guitarist William Tyler, and musician and graphic designer Jeremiah Chiu.
The program's custom paper piano rolls are manufactured by Atlanta-based player-piano collector and enthusiast Timothy Baxter, owner of Meliora Music Rolls, who is among the very small number of people still manufacturing new player piano rolls in the world. His "perforator" makes rapid punches in paper rolls via a computer interface and circuit board. Specific columns of punches represent each playing note on the piano, as well as sustain pedal instructions. Baxter has created interpretations of a wide variety of classical, ragtime, and popular music for the player piano in an artistic setting. These include the realization of custom piano rolls of music composed by Ramin Djawadi for the first season of HBO's Westworld, Gershwin's centennial celebration at Carnegie Hall, and the feature film The Greatest Showman with Hugh Jackman. In addition to the artists' experimental creations, a selection of rolls from Baxter's inventory will also be played that evoke the era of westward expansion depicted in Paper Promises.
Translated into a visual poetry of dot-and-dash perforations, these new scores, punctured into paper rolls, push the almost-obsolete mechanical instrument to its limits. Presented in juxtaposition with the early photography in the exhibition, this program invites reflection on the cultural impact of 19th-century shifts in automation, reproduction, the commodification of the arts and entertainment, and the representation of time.
At the Saturday evening event, several of the artists will be present to introduce their compositions on player piano in person. A cash bar with local beer, wine, and snacks will be available.
May 12, 2018
Experience a rare U.S. performance by Midori Takada, a composer, multi-percussionist, and theater artist renowned in Japanese vanguard circles. Following the recent reissue of her acclaimed debut solo album Through the Looking Glass (1983), Midori presents her precise and mesmerizing blend of rhythms from around the world, creating an ethereal, vibrant sound that affirms her place in the canon of minimalist composers alongside Brian Eno, Phillip Glass, Pauline Oliveros, Terry Riley, and Steve Reich.
María Volonté: Blue Tango Project
November 11, 2017
Hailing from the colorful and gritty La Boca neighborhood of Buenos Aires, the Blue Tango Project is a groundbreaking collaboration between Argentine-born Latin Grammy nominee María Volonté and California harmonica player Kevin Carrel Footer. Together, Volonté's voice and guitar fill the stage with echoes of tango's forbidden pleasures while Footer's harmonica cries with the lament of solitary blues soul.
Terry Riley with Gyan Riley performing to Untitled (Shepard-Risset Glissando with color) by Peter Coffin
December 17, 2016
A rare and original performance with the renowned and widely influential composer Terry Riley, known as the father of minimalism for his groundbreaking 1964 work In C. Together with his son, composer and guitarist Gyan Riley, they will perform as part of Untitled (Shepard-Risset Glissando with Color) an immersive artwork by New York conceptual artist Peter Coffin.
Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler
February 27, 2016
Philadelphia-based harpist Mary Lattimore and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Zeigler perform original live scores to Philippe Garrel's Le Révélateur and Guy Maddin's Odilon Redon or the Eye Like A Strange Balloon Mounts Toward Infinity, two enigmatic films that mine the dark, dreamlike aesthetic explored in the exhibition Noir: The Romance of Black in 19th-Century French Drawings and Prints.
November 7, 2015
For thirty years, Lee Ranaldo was the lead guitarist of Sonic Youth, one of the most influential and artistically sophisticated alternative rock bands of the recent era. Since the band's end in 2011, Ranaldo has been exploring new roles as a solo performer, the leader of his new band The Dust, and beyond, to interdisciplinary collaborations in alternative venues like cathedrals and museums.
October 10, 2015
Jessica Pratt is a singer-songwriter whose singular voice and transfixing, intimate performances are rooted in a California psychedelic folk tradition. However, the acoustic dream-pop meditations on her album On Your Own Love Again go beyond straightforward folk sounds, with a distinctly British perspective that evokes the high-pitched eccentricities of Kate Bush, the delicate pop melodies of early Marianne Faithfull, and the lingering introspection of Nick Drake.
Year Without A Summer: Poetry For J.M.W. Turner
May 2, 2015
The Write Now Poetry Society presented an evening of poetry, music, and art. Stars of contemporary poetry perform new work inspired by the art of J.M.W. Turner, whose visually stunning, heart-pounding exploration of the struggle with darkness came out of mastering light. Complements the exhibition J. M. W. Turner: Painting Set Free.
Julianna Barwick and Matthew Brandt
April 25, 2015
Ethereal singer Julianna Barwick uses dazzling loops and layers to create absorbing vocal constructions that transport you to otherworldly sonic landscapes. In a special collaboration, she is joined by Los Angeles photographic artist Matthew Brandt, whose signature chromatic alchemy creates a lush and evocative visual counterpoint. Complements the exhibition Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography.
January 31, 2015
Body/Head is an electric guitar duo comprised of musician, artist, and boundless creative force Kim Gordon, best known as a member of the legendary alternative rock band Sonic Youth, and improvisational noise guitarist Bill Nace. Since Sonic Youth called it quits in 2012, each of its members have embarked on their own musical and artistic projects that have exposed and distilled the specific qualities they brought to the group. Body/Head is evidence that Gordon brought an undeniable edge and avant-garde sophistication that supplied the weird magic at the band's core. The epic and abstract sonic waves in Body/Head's sound accentuate a volatile energy that is at once indecipherable yet powerfully emotional. Often performed with time-bending video, Body/Head's unique form of dreamy improvisational performance reflects Gordon and Nace's gravitation toward an array of artistic material, from Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd and experimental folk musician Catherine Ribeiro, to the films of French feminist filmmaker Catherine Breillat.
May 10, 2014
William Tyler is a Nashville-based guitarist who has spent the last several years recording and touring with Silver Jews and Lambchop, among others. In 2010 Tyler struck out on his own to record "Behold the Spirit," which was celebrated by Pitchfork as "the most vital, energized album by an American solo guitarist in a decade or more." His latest project, "Impossible Truth," was inspired by two books: Barney Hoskyns's Hotel California, which chronicles the Laurel Canyon music scene of the early 1970s, and Mike Davis's The Ecology of Fear, a sociologist's take on the history of the destruction of Los Angeles via real and imagined disasters. The simultaneous tackling of these tomes led Tyler to build an instrumental narrative inspired by the promise and psychosis of Southern California, producing an atmosphere of apocalyptic expectation and bittersweet nostalgia.
Andy Prieboy: A Thousand Gorgeous Lies: A Musical Dissertation on the Inevitable Collision Course of Rock and Romance
March 1, 2014
Working with influences as diverse as Irving Berlin, Ray Davies, Kurt Weill, and W. S. Gilbert, singer-songwriter Andy Prieboy's 30-year career has included recording three albums with Wall of Voodoo, and solo albums with songs covered by Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt and Concrete Blonde. He went on to create the acclaimed comic rock oratorio "White Trash Wins Lotto" and publish the novel The Psycho Ex Game. Most recently he completed a successful residency at the Steve Allen Theater that featured his talents as a songwriter, storyteller, and wiseacre.
October 26, 2013
Luminaries of contemporary poetry and spoken word showcase new work inspired by the photographs of Abelardo Morell. Produced in collaboration with the Write Now Poetry Society, these performances are interwoven with lush live music and dance to create an ecstatic exploration where the visual and literary arts collide. The evening is hosted by Write Now founders, Amber Tamblyn and Mindy Nettifee, and participants include poets Beau Sia, Corrina Bain, Jack Hirschman, Jennifer L. Knox, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Sonya Renee, and Narcissister.
February 23, 2013
Armenian Public Radio breathes new life into traditional Armenian songs by weaving a blend of blues and American folk-lead riffs with Anatolian rhythms and silver vocal lines. Influenced by the Beatles, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Simon and Garfunkel, the trio polishes away the grit from village songs and reinterprets them with modern sensibilities.
January 26, 2013
Petra Haden's wondrous new album Petra Goes to the Movies features epic and evocative scores that have been ingeniously recreated utilizing layers of remarkably inventive vocals. Joined by a 16 member choir, Haden delivers stunning a cappella versions of songs from films such as Psycho, Taxi Driver, Superman and more.
November 17, 2012
At only 23 years old, the soulful voice of Cold Specks's lead singer, Al Spx, which is complemented by her talented six-piece band, has a beautiful, experienced sound. Cold Specks's "doom-soul" style, as she describes it, is timeless and raw, offering a sense of peacefulness and meditation for listeners. In May 2012, Cold Specks released their debut album, I Predict a Graceful Expulsion. Filled with tales of redemption, prayer, faith, and loss, Al Spx's songs are delivered with an earthy, gospel-like power. She resembles the superstars of her style, such as Mahalia Jackson and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and is inspired by legends Bill Callahan and Tom Waits. Al Spx and her band are sure to leave you wanting more.
March 31, 2012
Singer-songwriter Abigail Washburn performed in the tradition of American old-time music. The Nashville-based clawhammer-banjo player paired venerable folk elements with far-flung sounds, and the results felt both strangely familiar and unlike anything anybody's ever heard before.
Read the Los Angeles Times' review of the concert.
December 3, 2011
Influential experimental-music anarchists Los Angeles Free Music Society have had an immeasurable impact on the spread and evolution of noise, avant-garde music, and DIY culture in the past 40 years. This live program included ensemble performances by Extended Organ, Le Forte Four, Smegma, and a solo performance by Tom Recchion. This event was part of Pacific Standard Time at the Getty Center.
November 5, 2011
Two Los Angeles musical legends from different generations came together for an unforgettable evening of sonic confections. Van Dyke Parks has played with almost everyone that matters in modern music—from the Beach Boys to U2 by way of the Grateful Dead, Ringo Starr, and the Byrds. Inara George is the lilting voice behind the indie-rock duo the Bird and the Bee. Joining them in the performance was a chamber orchestra led by concert master Peter Kent. This event was part of Pacific Standard Time at the Getty Center.
September 10, 2011
Presented in collaboration with Write Now Poetry Society, Dark Blushing was a unique evening of poetry, music, and art featuring some of the brightest stars in contemporary poetry—Patricia Smith, Ilya Kaminsky, Jeffrey McDaniel, Rachel McKibbens, Brendan Constantine, and Suzanne Lummis—all presenting new work inspired by the exhibition Luminous Paper: British Watercolors and Drawings.
Their performances were accompanied by the lush live music of Portland artist Timmy Straw, whose work combines classical training on piano and strings with electronic beats and loops. Legendary jazz bassist Roberto Miranda also joined the line-up and added his dynamic improvisations to the live readings. Iconoclast Marilyn Manson made a special appearance reading the poetry of William Blake, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti's work was read by actress America Ferrera. The poet-artists Blake and Rossetti's drawings are featured in the Museum's exhibition. Hosted by actress and author Amber Tamblyn and poet Mindy Nettifee.
Read a recap of the show and download the full text of all the poems on our blog, The Iris.
April 9, 2011
Best known as the lead singer and songwriter for the seminal American art-rock band Throwing Muses, Kristin Hersh brought the American debut of Rat Girl live to the Getty. This solo spoken-word and musical performance draws from Hersh's life as a teenager wrestling with issues of mental illness, creativity, teenage pregnancy, and the pressures of sudden fame. Combining film, music, and excerpts from her acclaimed memoir, the show is an intense, moving, and original experience.
February 5, 2011
One of the most versatile, imaginative and original guitarists active today, Nels Cline displayed a mastery of guitar expression that encompasseed delicate lyricism, sonic abstractions, and skull-crunching flights of fancy. Cline brought his latest trio, the Nels Cline Singers to the Getty along with multi-instrumentalist Yuka C. Honda of Cibo Matto.
Stew and The Negro Problem
October 30, 2010
Stew, the Tony-award winning writer, performer, and philosophical wiseguy rock artist behind the hit Broadway musical, Passing Strange, returns to the Getty with his longtime collaborator Heidi Rodewald and their ensemble, The Negro Problem, for the first time since 2005. With an incisive, bravura performance featuring their signature lyrics and genre-bending arrangements, this multi-media concert presentation is not to be missed.
April 17, 2010
Equally at ease composing for orchestras and mixing multi-layered mash-ups, the enigmatic and classically trained British musician Mica Levi fronts the experimental pop trio Micachu and the Shapes. Their boundary-blurring sound brilliantly merges hip-hop-tinged beats, rock guitar, found samples, singalong melodies, and homemade instruments, including Levi's signature adapted guitar, the Chu.
March 27, 2010
Mexican Bluegrass meets Irish Mariachi in Rana Santacruz's rock- and folk-inspired music. Featuring cajón, upright bass, accordion, guitar, banjo, jarana, violin, and trumpet, Santacruz starts in Ireland, runs through Appalachia, swings through New Orleans, and careens across Mexico with an eclectic mix of acoustic instrumentation.
The Living Sisters
March 13, 2010
Los Angeles-based singer/songwriters Inara George (The Bird and the Bee), Becky Stark (Lavender Diamond) and Eleni Mandell joined together as The Living Sisters for their debut album Love to Live. The accomplished trio embrace their mutual love of country, soul, gospel, and jazz with their signature gorgeous harmonies, poetically charged lyrics and sing-along choruses backed by retro pop instrumentation.
Money Mark & Emily Wells
February 27, 2010
Violinist and singer Emily Wells loves rap music and Vivaldi. Money Mark (Mark Nishita) is a musician and producer who transformed the sound of the Beastie Boys. From these unique perspectives, the two artists came together for a special collaborative performance, where classical roots met up with hip-hop rhythms, looped violin melodies, and a special cell phone ring tone symphony.
May 30, 2009
The three women who form the Refugees—Cindy Bullens, Deborah Holland, and Wendy Waldman—demonstrated their mastery of a variety of musical styles including country, rock, folk, and Americana, as well as their soaring harmonies, indelible musicianship, and unforgettably humorous stage presence.
May 9, 2009
In this rare live performance, O'Halloran brought his meditative approach to piano composition the stage, accompanied by string musicians and framed by a moving backdrop of live video.
John Doe and Exene Cervenka
April 25, 2009
This concert was a rare opportunity for John Doe and Exene Cervenka, with no additional musicians, to showcase their decades-long collaborative songwriting and singing partnership. They performed material from their solo projects as well as from the Knitters and X.
March 7, 2009
Peter Himmelman—critically lauded rock troubadour, Grammy-nominated creator of children's music, and Emmy-nominated film and television composer—showcased songs that have been praised for their "emphatic edge and aesthetic urgency."
February 28, 2009
Martha Wainwright performed songs from her new album I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too. A sharp-tongued performer who doesn't hold anything back in concert, Wainwright has emerged as the latest star from a legendary family of performers.
How to Get Here
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