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Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc For Julius Eastman - Concert
Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc
Born in 1977, Guyana - lives in Paris, France
For Julius Eastman, (Crazy Nigger, Nigger Evil, Gay Guerrilla), 2012
 
Performance, compositions for four pianos
 
Courtesy Marcelle Alix, Paris
With the support of l'Atelier S.K.H., Paris 
 
 
6th Cycle:
Gay Guerrilla by Julius Eastman, 1979
28 min.
 
Friday, August 24, 2012
Public rehearsal: 2-5 p.m.
Public rehearsal: 7-10 p.m.
 
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Public rehearsal: 2-5 p.m.
Concert: 7 p.m.
 
Composition for four pianos played by Matthieu Acar, Violaine Debever, Tom Grimaud, and Anna Jbanova
Musical Director: Jean-Christophe Marti
 
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Final Lecture : 17H30-18H45 - Salle Trente-sept
Lecture on "For Julius Eastman, (Crazy Nigger, Evil Nigger, Gay Guerrilla)" by Jean-Christophe Marti
 
Concert : 20H30 à 23h30 
Program : 
-  Evil Nigger
- a 15 minutes break
- Gay Guerrilla
- a 30 minutes break
- Crazy Nigger (1 hour)
 
 
Portrait of Julius Eastman, Composer
Text by Matthew Loctin
 
African-American composer Julius D. Eastman Jr. is one of the most original figures in minimalist and post-minimalist music, but remains one of its most marginal and least well known ones as well since his work was not widely popular and was always surrounded by an aura of mystery. Born in 1940, and raised in lthaca, New York, Eastman began to play the piano at age  fourteen. He learned to play Beethoven within six months and joined the Curtis lnstitute to studypiano and composition. He graduated in 1966. Eastman’s early composercareer had some significant highlights such as the performance by the Brooklyn Philharmonic of his piece  Stay on / t, which was later played in Europe by the Creative Associates, and toured with Meredith Monk.
 
However, Eastman’s first most important recognition came not from his own music but from his exceptional vocal performance of "Eight Songs for a Mad King" by British composer Peter Maxwell Davies in 1973. A talented pianist, composer and even dancer and choreographer, Eastman had trained his dark, solemn voice as a teen with the Episcopal Church Choir in Ithaca. He performed in 1987 the "Prelude to the Holy Presence of Joan of Arc".
 
His performance in 1975 at the June in Buffalo Festival, organized by Morton Feldman at SUNY Buffalo, is a controversial infamous episode. Eastman was invited to perform John Cage's “Songbooks”, but plays only one segment: « To give a lecture. »
Openly homosexual, Eastman proceeded to give a lecture on sex with two volunteers, a man and a woman. He undressed the young man, then tried to do the same with the woman, who resisted. The whole scene and its surrounding atmosphere soon turned electric, amost chaotic.. John Cage did not appreciate the provocative performance and arbitrary interpretation of his work. The next day, a furious Cagegave a lecture on the misuse of his music, and stated that "I’m tired of people who think that they could do whatever they want with my music!"
 
Eastman’s music was often performed by prestigious ensembles such as the Brooklyn Philharmonic. However, it was not  recorded and therefore lacked the ability of being widely spread and recognized before he died. Paradoxically while Eastman  never resented this lack of recognition, he was deeply hurt when he was turned down as a professor by the Conservatory in Paris, which came as a result of a disagreeement on his salary.
 
A whimsical, eccentrically clothed character Eastman saw his music as a way to experiment and a space for nonconformity, without ever sacrificing his expectation of  clear understanding and great readability in his work. He thought of his music as « organic », with each new segment integrating the structure of the one preceding in varying degrees. He is a pioneer of the post-minimal generation or "New Music" movement, and one of the first musicians to introduce pop culture items in his work and to leave plenty of room for improvisation in some segments. His first attempt was in Stay on It in 1973. Both free and sensual, but also filled with rage, his compositions go far beyond the rather streamlined conceptual framework of minimalism, all while staying in touch with reality, however political and savage. The trilogy Evil Nigger, Crazy Nigger and Gay Guerrilla (written between 1979 and 1980), which Eastman also liked to call the Nigger Series, is a series of long compositions for piano, whose provocative titles call for combat, uprising, and even sacrifice, as he himself put it.
 
His late life remains uncertain and subject to multiple and contradictory speculation. He disappeared soon after being evicted from his apartment in 1983, all of his belongings and his scores were discarded and scattered. He ended his life in Tompkins' Square Park in New York City, and died alone and forsaken in a hospital in Buffalo on May 28, 1990, at the age of 49. For some, his heavy drinking and addiction to crack was the cause of his demise and death. His relatives claim he was perfectly healthy a month before dying, seemingly rid of his dark addictions.
 
His life, lonely, unstable and chaotic, determined a meteoric trajectory, marked by highs and lows with an equal share of success and failure. Eastman embodied  a radical yet productive marginality by using his own practice to challenge the status quo Eastman is a kind of « romantic hero gone rogue walking the fine line between art and politics. »
 
Published in the exhibition catalogue «Les vigiles, les menteurs, les rêveurs – edited by Le Plateau-Frac Ile-de-France, 2010