This year, Ultima festival investigates the enigmatic figure of
American minimalism, Julius
Eastman, over two nights of US avant garde music.
The reputation of American composer/singer Julius Eastman (1940–90) is undergoing a rapid rediscovery. Eastman’s outsider status (as a black, gay, uncompromising avant gardist) was cemented by titles such as Gay Guerrilla and Evil Nigger, but his style of repetitive minimalism is being newly appreciated by fans of Steve Reich and Charlemagne Palestine, and his achievements as a vocalist included recording Maxwell Davies’s
Eight Songs for a Mad King.
In The Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner, Eastman’s work is presented in a semi-lecture
context. Playing with the notion of Eastman as a postmodern trickster, Julius Eastman
Memorial Dinner is framed as a job application for the role of the composer in a celebration
of his life, with spoken interludes and electronic treatments ofthe compositions played in
real time by two pianists. Behind the project is DJ, electronic musician and author Jace
Clayton, aka DJ /rupture, whose book Uproot: Travels in 21stCentury Music and Digital
Culture explores the sweeping changes digital music is undergoing in remote corners of the
planet. This concert also includes a rare appearance in Norway by the New York based percussion and piano based quartet Yarn/Wire. They will play three recent works of US minimalism: Catherin Lamb’s Curvo Totalitas, Anthony Vine’sdistance/absence and Alvin Lucier’s Oases, all from 2016. There’s a second chance to hear Julius Eastman’s music on the following night, when one of the great enigmatic works of 20th century music will be reconstructed by the British groupApartment House.