Tate Modern will present a rare performance of Calder Piece, composer Earle Brown’s sonic animation of his friend Alexander Calder’s mobile Chef d’orchestre. Brown, a major force in contemporary music and the American avant-garde since the 1950s, was the creator of open form, a style of musical construction greatly indebted to the works of Calder.
In 1963 the two embarked on a musical collaboration, for which Calder made Chef d’orchestre, where four percussionists are ‘conducted’ by the mobile. Some 100 percussion instruments are employed in a performance where the movement of the sculpture is read by the percussionists, responding to the varying configuration of its elements. As well as functioning as conductor, the musicians actually play the mobile, making each performance both visually and musically unique. It was not until 1966 that the work was finished and Calder Piece was first performed at the Théâtre de l’Atelier in Paris, early in 1967.
Calder Piece is one of kind and Earle Brown insisted that the music must never be independent of Chef d’orchestre. This major revival of a work not played for over 30 years is its UK premiere, performed by the percussion ensemble of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in collaboration with Gramophone Award-winning conductor Richard Bernas.
November 1952, an abstract work by Brown entirely composed in graphic score, and fragments of his friend John Cage’s huge piece Atlas Eclipticalis, based on the star charts of the Southern Hemisphere, complete the programme.
The piece is one of a kind…It is my very deeply felt homage to ‘one of a kind’ Sandy Calder and to his life and work. Calder Piece program note, January 1980, Earle Brown This programme has been made possible through the support of the Earle Brown Foundation, Alexander Calder Foundation, the Hinrichsen Foundation and Nancy E. and Peter C. Meinig.
This event is related to the exhibition Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture
Tate Modern, Turbine Hall Bridge: Tuesday 10 November 18.30–20.00, 20.30–22.00 and Sunday 15 November, 2015 18.30–20.00