It has been announced that the interestingly extensive music series “Sounds & Stories” from New York’s St. Luke’s Orchesta, hosted by David Hyde Pierce, will be premiering the incredible work of the Black queer composer Julius Eastman on June 28.
Eastman’s 1974 piece, “Femenine” will be presented June 28 to commemorate Pride Month and the 53rd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which was an uprising that took place in New York City for the protection and rights of the LGTBQ community in New York City. Eastman was known as a powerful genius of minimal compositional music and sound. He died in 1990.
OSL’s press release reads, “A self-described ‘gay guerrilla’ who strove to be ‘Black to the fullest, a musician to the fullest, [and] a homosexual to the fullest,’ when it came to sexuality and gender, Eastman was far ahead of his time. Already performing in a dress and taking a creative approach to pronouns back in the 1970s, he was, ‘long before words like genderqueer and nonbinary entered common usage, … modeling his own kind of gender fluidity’ (NPR). Such courageous nonconformity exacerbated the prejudice he encountered, and the frustrations and downward spiral that ensued.
“Eastman died young and in complete obscurity after battling addiction, homelessness and AIDS. Many of his scores had been impounded during an eviction, and many more have since been lost. Only in recent years, with help from the friends and colleagues who survived him, has the painstaking work of rediscovering and reconstructing his catalogue begun.”
Eastman also became a cornerstone of the very rare widely known composers within the high art and sound art music community all over the world. His style was poignant, quiet, yet beautifully overpowering and this artist has certainly earned the stature and honor of being played to listeners in 2022.
Vogue writes about Eastman, “As the renaissance of Eastman scholarship grows year after year, the overdue celebration confirms not only the value of his contributions as a queer, Black composer, but the power of the music itself to redress decades of public disregard with the sounds of sheer joy, anger, and sensuality.”
OSL will perform the arrangement of “Femenine” by Christopher McIntyre, who has “played a signal role in the much-heralded recent rediscovery … of works by Julius Eastman” (New Yorker).
The piece is scored with violin, viola, bass, percussion, piano, synthesizer, alto saxophone and bassoon; this will feature McIntyre himself on synthesizer alongside the superlative musicians of St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, OSL’s artistic core.
As a special gift to the online community to celebrate this year’s Pride Month and Pride Day, their account of the work will stream at OSLmusic.org, free of charge, from OSL’s DiMenna Center for Classical Music, New York’s leading venue for streaming digital performance space.
For more information visit: www.oslmusic.org