On Friday 23 July, I attended a peformance of Christian Marclay’s “Ephemera” at the Whitney Museum. “Ephemera” consists of fragments from Marclay’s collection of clippings, candy wrappers, ads, and sundry disposable printed items decorated with musical notes, assembled into a score that can be organized and interpreted using one or more instruments. John Zorn and company played a crisp 30-minute set as they translated this graphic score into sound.
To the ensemble’s left, a long wall of the gallery had been converted into a floor-to-ceiling chalkboard with musical staves, on which the public was invited to scribble away – you can get an impression of it here. This visual accompaniment served as an apt counterpoint to the improvised utterances of the performers. Amidst the spiky experimentation, though, moments of gentle lyricism and transparent fragility emerged. Sylvie Courvoisier’s mastery of the piano (both inside it’s belly and on the keyboard) was especially apparent throughout this set. And I swear I heard Mr. Zorn quote the melody to “Silent Night.”
For more photos from this festival, check out the Flickr group the Whitney set up. Below is video of the performance courtesy of The Awl:
Vodpod videos no longer available.
The Marclay Festival is up until September 26 – if you’re in the greater New York area, I recommend checking it out. (PS when you go, work your way back to the chill lounge room– complete with white sofas & carpeting– for a Christian Marclay listening session.)