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05.08.2021 DENSITY 2036
Concert by New York flutist Claire Chase


From April to June 2014, 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 to 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 to 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


A friend introduced me to the idea of Emily Dickson’s letters. He quoted a phrase in a talk that I found astounding (“to multiply the harbors does not diminish the sea”). As I went searching for that phrase, I began to read others along the way, each with its own sparkling revelation of her genius.

Suzanne Farrin


Emergent is the first work in my Recombinant Trilogy, three works for solo instrument and electronics that use interactive digital delays, spatialization and timbre transformation to transform the acoustic sounds of the instrument into multiple digitally created sonic personalities that follow diverse yet intersecting spatial trajectories. Advancing a conversational aesthetic, albeit in non-improvised music, in these works foreground and background deliberately conflate. Doppelgängers are created that blur the boundaries between original and copy, while shrouding their origin in processes of repetition. As non-linearity is invoked and uncertainty is assured, the electronics and the solo instrument blend, intersect, diverge, or they suddenly converge into unified ensembles. The software for these works was written by Damon Holzborn, using the Max platform, and the spatial and timbral treatments were composed by me, using the software.

Emergent was commissioned by the Pnea Foundation and written for flutist Claire Chase. The work addresses Edgard Varèse’s avowed preference for sound-producing machines over sound-reproducing ones by addressing the composer’s 1936 introduction of a fourth dimension – “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. Varèse was in a telephone booth talking to his wife, who was at the time in Paris. According to his account, “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.” (Fernand Ouellette, A Biography of Edgard Varèse, translated by Derek Coltman, New York: Orion Press 1968, p. 74.)

George Lewis


Sex Magic is a 45-minute piece for contrabass flute (with alto ocarina, Aztec death whistle, bell, pedal bass drum), live electronics and installation of kinetic percussion written for and dedicated to Claire Chase.

This is a work about the sacred erotic in women’s history.

This is a work about an alternative cultural logic of women’s power as connected to cycles of the womb – the life-making powers of childbirth, the ‘skin-changing’, world-synchronizing temporalities of the body and the womb center as a site of divinatory wisdom and utterance.

The music was very much prompted by Claire’s connection to her contrabass flute named ‘Bertha’ which then suggested kinships to particular blown instruments, to drums and other percussion. The work is dedicated to Claire and to the voices, sentience and wisdom energies of these instruments. The work is divided into four major stages (with part 2 divided into 6 subsections):


I. Salutations to the cowrie shells
II. Womb-bell
III. Vermillion – on Rage
IV. Throat Song
V. Moss – on the Sacred Erotic
VI. Telepathy (silent meditation)

Skin Changing

The Slow Moon Climbs

Liza Lim


Over the years, I have written quite a few pieces for Claire, 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 at Seville from a fiend in the form of a woman. It 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 its younger days.

In the piece, I also looked into the orthodox chant, sung on the 24th of January: Xenia of Rome and Her Two Female Slaves (from the 5th century). In the hinted scents of Bach’s Sarabande you would hear from the beginning and ever so present throughout the piece, is a story behold between Claire and our beloved friend who passed away.

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.

In memoriam of Elise Mann.

Du Yun


Pan is an evening-length musical drama for flute, live electronics and a large ensemble of community performers. It tells the story of the mythological goat-god Pan (one of only two Greek deities said to have been put to death) in a series of staged episodes exploring the contradictions and betrayals in Pan’s relationships. Members of the community in which the work is performed are collaborators alongside flutist Claire Chase, director Douglas Fitch and sound engineer Levy Lorenzo. Tonight’s performance is a concert presentation of three musical excerpts from the larger work: Death of Pan, Echo and Soliloquy.

Pan Creative Team

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