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The Music of Julius Eastman



The Music of Julius Eastman

Join us for a special program of music by Julius Eastman, programmed by pianist and composer Luciano Chessa, including a selection of religious works as well as Crazy Nigger.

Luciano Chessa, piano and voice; Riley Nicholson, piano;Regina Myers, piano; Chris Brown, piano; Kevin Baum, baritone; Richard Mix, bass


  • Prelude to the Holy Presence of Joan d'Arc (solo bass)
  • Touch Him When (piano four hands)
  • Our Father (baritone and bass)
  • Hail Mary (reading voice and piano)
  • Crazy Nigger (four pianos)


This program is co-presented with the Italian Cultural Institute and San Francisco Cinematheque and is sponsored in part by a grant from The Ross McKee Foundation. Additional pianos provided by R. Kassman, Purveyor of Fine Pianos in Berkeley.

Julius Eastman (1940–1990) was an artist who, as a gay, black man, aspired to live those roles to the fullest. He was not only a prominent member of New York’s downtown scene as a composer, conductor, singer, pianist, and choreographer, but also performed at Lincoln Center with Pierre Boulez and the New York Philharmonic, and recorded experimental disco with producer Arthur Russell. Despite his prominence in the artistic and musical community in New York, Eastman died homeless and alone in a Buffalo, NY hospital, his death unreported until eight months later, in a Village Voice obituary by Kyle Gann. He left behind few scores and recordings, and his music lay dormant for decades until a three-CD set of his compositions was issued in 2005 by New World Records. In the years since, there has been a steady increase in attention paid to his music and life, punctuated by newly found recordings and manuscripts, the publication of Gay Guerrilla, a comprehensive volume of biographical essays and analysis, worldwide performances and new arrangements of his surviving works, and newfound interest from choreographers, scholars, educators, and journalists.

Luciano Chessa is a composer, conductor, audiovisual and performance artist. His most recent record, Canti felice, has been released on the Parisian label Skank Bloc Records in Spring 2018. His compositions include Cromlech, a large organ piece that just premiered in Melbourne’s Town Hall as part of a solo organ recital that received over 2,200 ticket bookings; the opera Cena oltranzista nel castelletto al lago—a work merging experimental theater with reality TV which required from the cast over 55 hours of fasting—and A Heavenly Act, an opera commissioned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, with original video by Kalup Linzy. Chessa has been commissioned multiple times by the Performa Biennial, and in 2014 he presented three events at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum as part of the exhibition Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe. Chessa’s work appeared more than once in Artforum, Flash Art, Art in America, and Frieze; and has been featured in the Italian issue of Marie Claire and in the September Issue of Vogue Italia. He has been interviewed twice by the British BBC, and has been the subject of two short documentaries: one produced by RAI World (2014), and the other by Vietnamese State TV VTV1 in the occasion of his first trip to Viet Nam (2015). Chessa is also a music historian specializing in 20th-century Italian and 21st-century American repertoire. He is the author of Luigi Russolo Futurist. Noise, Visual Arts, and the Occult (2012), the first monograph dedicated to Russolo and his “Art of Noise.” In 2009, his Orchestra of Futurist Noise Intoners (OFNI) was hailed by The New York Times as one of the best events in the arts; Chessa has conducted this project across the USA and internationally to sold out houses including REDCAT in Los Angeles, the New World Center in Miami, Radial System / Maerzmusik-Berliner Festspiele, the ArtScience Museum in Singapore, and Lisbon’s Municipal Theater. With this project he collaborated with the likes of Joan La Barbara, Mike Patton, Lee Ranaldo, Ellen Fullman, Blixa Bargeld, Pauline Oliveros, among others. He just completed his residency at the Steel House in Rockland, ME, where he developed the audiovisual installation #00FF00 #FF00FF and prepared for Schirmer the diplomatic edition of Julius Eastman’s Second Symphony, the world premiere of which he is about to conduct at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall with Mannes Orchestra. His chapter on Julius Eastman’s Gay Guerrilla closes the book of the same title—the first ever dedicated to Eastman’s music. Edited by Mary Jane Leach and Renée Levine Packer for University of Rochester Press, Gay Guerrilla just came out on paperback.


Date: Sunday, January 13, 2019

Time: At 4:30 pm

Entrance : With fee


Old First Concerts, 1751 Sacramento St, SF