Density 2036: part ii (2014)

Edgard Varèse: Density 21.5 for flute alone (1936)

Felipe Lara: Meditation and Calligraphy for bass flute (2014)

Felipe Lara: Parábolas na Caverna for amplified flute (2013-2014)

Commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation

George Lewis: Emergent for flute and electronics (2014)

Commissioned by the Pnea Foundation

Matthias Pintscher: Beyond (A System of Passing) (2013-2014)

Co-commissioned by The Salzburg Foundation and the Pnea Foundation (for Emmanuel Pahud and Claire Chase)

Du Yun: An Empty Garlic for bass flute and electronics (2014)

Commissioned by Project&

Density 2036: part ii (2014) is dedicated to Elise Mann.

Program notes/bios below.

Program Notes


Felipe Lara: Meditation and Calligraphy (for G. Mend-Ooyo) (2014) – for amplified bass flute 


From April to June, I was fortunate to take part in a residency at Civitella Ranieri, a 15th-century castle turned foundation and residency in Umbria, Italy. One former fellow, G. Mend-Ooyo, a Mongolian poet and calligrapher particularly called my attention. He was born and raised by a nomadic herding family, in the Mongolian steppe; his work has been translated in forty languages.

I asked him to show me some of his work and he invited me for visit his studio in order to see the work he had produced during the residency at Civitella. Mend-Ooyo’s calligraphy particularly impressed me. The bold gestures, elemental lyricism, and minute details were astounding to me. The following afternoon Mend-Ooyo presented me with two wonderful calligraphies, both in black, red, pencil, over a yellow and gold paper; one with the Mongolian symbol for music, the other with fire and water symbols. I asked Mend-Ooyo: “How do you create such incredible calligraphies?” He replied, “Meditation, meditation, meditation for a very long time…then calligraphy with one quick gesture.” I found the approach extremely poetic.

The following week Claire Chase arrived at the castle to work with me on Parábolas na Caverna and play a solo concert. I decided to present Mend-Ooyo with a small piece, as a gesture of my gratitude. I decided that I would “meditate” or imagine the general character of a solo bass flute work for an entire evening, then wake up and write it in less than 30 minutes.

The work uses the letters of G. Mend-Ooyo’s name as a starting point for the pitch material: G (sol), Me (E flat, from solfege), D (re), Do (C) The vowel sounds from his name are also used to modulate the flute when singing and playing simultaneously is required.

— Felipe Lara


Felipe Lara: Parábolas na Caverna (2013-14), for amplified flute 


The title (Parables in the Cave) refers to Plato’s “Parable of the Cave,” a dialogue between Plato’s brother Glaucon and his mentor Socrates, who is the narrator. In a nutshell, Socrates describes a group of people who have been chained to the wall of a cave their entire lives, without ever experiencing reality. The prisoners watch the shadows projected in the wall of the cave by a fire behind them and ascribe names and meanings to the distorted shadows of various objects and passer-bys outside of the cave. For (Plato’s) Socrates the shadows are as true a view the prisoners will ever see of reality. For him, philosophy (as well as knowledge and education) helps liberating oneself from such a cave, thus leading to a better understand of the world around them.  Parábolas was written for Claire Chase and is dedicated to Andreas Waldburg-Wolfegg, Claire’s mentor and the Chairman of ICE’s board from 2007-2013.

— Felipe Lara


George Lewis:  Emergent (2014), for flute and electronics

This work, written for Claire Chase’s Density 2036 project, addresses Edgard Varèse’s avowed preference for sound-producing machines over sound-reproducing ones by productively conflating the two. The combination of relatively long digital delays, interactive digital spatialization, and timbre transformation transforms the fully scored flute material into a virtual, quasi-improvisative orchestral space, creating a dance among multiple flutists following diverse yet intersecting trajectories in which nonlinearity is invoked and uncertainty is assured.  Rather than presenting the redundant truism of a composer “working with time,” this work is created in dialogue with my deliberate misprision of Varèse’s stated intention for his 1958 Poème électronique to introduce “a fourth [dimension], that of sound projection” to music.  Varèse’s statement seems to obliquely invoke the notion of spacetime, an interpretation supported by a 1968 account of one of the composer’s dreams that suggests the related notion of quantum teleportation as well as the sound of my piece: “He was in a telephone booth talking to his wife, who was at the time in Paris.  His body became so light, so immaterial, so evanescent that suddenly, limb by limb, he disintegrated and flew away toward Paris, where he was reconstructed, as though all his being had become spirit.”

— George Lewis


Matthias Pintscher: Beyond (A System of Passing) (2013) 

This work was written for Emmanuel Pahud and Claire Chase, and was premiered by Pahud at the Lucerne Festival in August 2013 and by Chase at The Kitchen in October 2014. Chase describes it as a “21st-century Sequenza...the work stretches the limits of the instrument— the instrument’s register in both directions, its harmonic and chordal possibilities—and evokes the extreme virtuosity (and humor) of Berio’s 1951 classic.” 

— Matthias Pintscher


Du Yun: An Empty Garlic (2014), for bass flute and electronics

You miss the garden, 
because you want a small fig from a random tree.
You don't meet the beautiful woman.
You are joking with an old crone.
It makes me want to cry how she detains you,
stinking mouthed, with a hundred talons, 
putting her head over the roof edge to call down,
tasteless fig, fold over fold, empty
as dry-rotten garlic.
She has you tight by the belt,
even though there's no flower and no milk
inside her body.
Death will open your eyes
to what her face is: leather spine
of a black lizard. No more advice.
Let yourself be silently drawn
by the stronger pull of what you really love.



Over the years, I have written quite a few pieces for Claire, and each of them reflects who we were at the time, as well as our evolving understanding of each other...

As of late I have been going back to relearn the classical forms. Growing up, playing any Sarabandes from Bach’s Suites was one of my favorite things to do. The playing always accompanied a sense of meditation, grief, bereavement, and transcendence.

Historically however, the Sarabande had a rather provocative and coquettish beginning. It was said to have received its name in Seville from a fiend in the form of a woman. The dance was a group dance mainly done by women and was considered wild in manner and a highly sexual pantomime in nature, with undulations of the body, massive hip movements, flirtations, indecent song lyrics and women using castanets. When it was introduced to France, the dance included men who would dance it as well. They would occasionally use the tambourine, which was considered effeminate in those days. People who sang it were arrested, lashed, and exiled in the Sarabande’s younger days.

In the piece, I also looked into the orthodox chant Xenia of Rome, and Her Two Female Slaves (from the 5th century). In the hinted scents of Bach’s famous Sarabande (from the a minor Partita for solo flute) you hear at the beginning and ever so present throughout the piece, we wordlessly discover a story beholden between Claire and our beloved friend who passed away at this very time last year.

I often wonder about bereavement. When and how it pauses, recharges, morphs and restarts. Along the way, we possibly also hold bereavement reserved for ourselves too.

I am so close to you I am distant, I am so mingled with you I am apart, I am so open I am hidden, I am so strong I totter.

This is a fruit of life to me: intoxicating, in exile, and always at home.

Written for Claire Chase, in memoriam Elise Mann.  

— Du Yun




Felipe Lara

Brazilian composer Felipe Lara’s music has been labeled "voluptuous and elemental lyricism" and "brilliant" by The New York Times, which also described him "a gifted Brazilian-American modernist." The Washington Post described his music as possessing a "distinctive style," and "managing an internal architectural logic that shapes a curve from beginning to end." 

His works have been performed by the Arditti, Asasello, Brentano, JACK, and Mivos Quartets, Ensemble Recherche, ICE, KNM Berlin, Netherlands Philharmonic (Peter Eötvös), Steven Schick, and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. Current projects include commissions by the Ensemble InterContemporain and São Paulo Symphony Orchestra. Lara is currently a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellow at Harvard University.


George Lewis

George E. Lewis is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Lewis’s other honors include a MacArthur Fellowship (2002) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2015). A member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971, Lewis’s creative work has been presented by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonia Orchestra, Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart, International Contemporary Ensemble, and others. His widely acclaimed book, A Power Stronger Than Itself:  The AACM and American Experimental Music (University of Chicago Press, 2008) received the American Book Award, and in 2015, Lewis received the degree of Doctor of Music (DMus, honoris causa) from the University of Edinburgh.


Matthias Pintscher

Matthias Pintscher is the music director of the Ensemble Intercontemporain and principal conductor of the Lucerne Festival Academy. He also continues his partnerships with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Praised for his interpretations of contemporary music, he developed an affinity for repertoire of the late 19th and early 20th centuries—Bruckner, the French Romantic masters, Beethoven, Berlioz, Ravel, Debussy, Stravinsky, and the Second Viennese School—along with a rich variety of contemporary scores. Pintscher works regularly with leading contemporary music ensembles such as the Ensemble Modern, Klangforum Wien, Ensemble contrechamps, Avanti (Helsin- ki), remix (Porto), and the Scharoun Ensemble. He joined the composition faculty at the Juilli- ard School in 2014 and makes his home in New York and Paris.


Du Yun

Du Yun, born and raised in Shanghai, China, currently based in New York, is a composer, performer and performance artist, working at the intersection of orchestral, opera, chamber music, theatre, cabaret, pop music, oral tradition, visual arts, electronics and noise. Hailed by the New York Times as a leading figure in China’s new generation of composers and often cited as a key activist in New York's "new movement in new music," Du Yun's music is championed by some of today's finest performing artists, ensembles orchestras and organizations Known as "protean' and "chameleonic," the National Public Radio voted her as 100 composers under 40 in 2011. Her music can be heard on New Focus, Oxingale and Deutsche Grammophon.  In 2014 she was appointed as the artistic director of MATA, a pioneering international festival dedicated to commissioning and presenting young composers from around the world under age 40.