S.E.M. Ensemble & String Noise perform at Paula Cooper Gallery


In conjunction with Paula Cooper Gallery’s major exhibition of Sol LeWitt, the S.E.M. Ensemble will perform an evening of compositions by Alvin Lucier and Petr Kotik.

The concert will take place within the Gallery’s main space, where LeWitt’s large-scale wall drawings are currently exhibited. “LeWitt has been a strong supporter of the SEM since the 1980s and we’re delighted to present this concert during this exhibition,” Kotik says. “For a composer, looking is more important than listening. The wall drawings by Sol LeWitt are a case in point. They are closer to music than the way we understand visual art: there is a score (instructions for the realization), performers (who execute the score), and a duration for the piece to exist.”
When & where
Tuesday, October 11, 2016 @ 8pm
Paula Cooper Gallery, 534 West 21 Street
New York

Tickets: $20 (at door) or $15 online

Petr Kotik   William William (2016)
    American Premiere
Alvin Lucier   Love Song (2016)
    World Premiere
Alvin Lucier   Navigations for Strings (1991)

The program also features a dance opera with a libretto by Petr Kotik and choreography by Matilda Sakamoto.

String Noise
S.E.M. Ensemble
Petr Kotik conductor
    Lucy Dhegrae soprano
    Jake Ingbar baritone
    Adrian Rosas bass
    Debra Kay Anderson narrator
    Conrad Harris violin
    Pauline Harris Kim violin
    Liuh-Wen Ting viola
    Caleb van der Swaagh violoncello
    John Altieri tuba
Matilda Sakamoto & dancers


Petr Kotik William William. A dance opera scored for five dancers, three singers, one narrator, and String Noise, William William was premiered to critical acclaim at New Opera Days Ostrava (NODO) in the Czech Republic last June. Commissioned by the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the work explores situations in which unforeseen turns of events fundamentally change the condition of human existence. The libretto (sung and narrated) was adapted by Kotik from Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens (1608), and a short excerpt from an autobiographical text by Natalie Babel, the daughter of the great Russian poet Isaac Babel (1894-1940).
Alvin Lucier Love Song. Written for the violin duo String Noise (Conrad Harris and Pauline Kim), Love Song continues Lucier’s exploration of space, sound, and slowly moving pitches. A wire connects the bridges of the two violins across the performance space, so that the long tones played by one performer are heard flowing also from the other violin. Both players only use their open E string. All variations in pitch and timbre are caused by the changes in tension of the wire, as the performers move in circular motion around the space.
Alvin Lucier Navigations for Strings. A string quartet commissioned by the Hessischer Rundfunk (German Radio), the work consists of four tones, for which a long stream of continually changing melodic and instrumental combinations occur. The players raise and lower the pitches in imperceptibly small increments, slowing down the tempo and allowing the sounds to lengthen like shadows and recede into the ambiance of the room. Because of the closeness of the tunings, acoustic wave beats are heard at speeds determined by the distances between the pitches.
The handwritten score of Navigations for Strings was given to Sol LeWitt in exchange for his 1993 Wall Drawing (#723).


Hailed by The New York Times as “the best of what is left of the experimental tradition,”  S.E.M. Ensemble was founded in 1970 when Petr Kotik gathered a group of musicians from the fellows at the Center of the Creative and Performing Arts, SUNY/Buffalo. Since then, S.E.M. Ensemble has established itself as one of the most distinguished ensembles for new music in the U.S., maintaining a continuous schedule of concerts in New York, touring annually in Europe, and performing in South America and Japan. SEM has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, and Merkin Hall. Recent recordings, all on the Dog w/a Bone label (New York), include Morton Feldman’s For Philip Guston (4-CD set), Petr Kotik’s Many Many Women (3-CD set), Music by Marcel Duchamp (1 CD) and Spoken Music, a live performance recording with John Cage, Dick Higgins, Jackson MacLow, and others. Recent recordings of The Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble are also available on Asphodel Ltd. (San Francisco) and Wergo (Mainz).