UNCG students will perform Christian Marclay’s “Graffiti Composition” alongside Switzerland-based ensemBle baBel on Tuesday, April 11, at the Weatherspoon Art Museum as part of a special guest artist event hosted by UNCG’s College of Visual and Performing Arts and New Music Greensboro.
In addition to the collaborative performance, ensemBle baBel will perform the North American premier of Marclay’s “To Be Continued,” and Marclay will give a brief talk related to his work. The program will begin at 6:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
The performances and artist talk are the culmination of a series of workshops in which students explore the collaboration of Marclay and ensemBle baBel. Marclay, a renowned visual artist and composer, creates graphic scores – visual representations of music that do not include notes in the traditional sense – that are then interpreted by the group.
How do musicians read graphic scores? According to Dr. Mark Engebretson, professor of composition and organizer of the event, interpreting these scores involves understanding the composer’s intent, combined with an improvisational spirit.
Students have been working on honing these skills in workshops with ensemBle baBel saxophonist and Greensboro resident Laurent Estoppey. On April 10, a free, public workshop – led by ensemBle baBel and Marclay – will be held at 5 p.m. at UNCG’s Greensboro Project Space downtown. Students and community members who attend the public workshop will have the opportunity to perform on April 11.
“It’s really special to have a group of European artists of this stature work so closely with our students,” Engebretson said. “We’re excited about the connections our students will make, and we’re thrilled to offer this event to the public.”
A recipient of the Golden Lion at the 2011 Venice Biennale for his film “The Clock,” Marclay is one of the leading figures in today’s art world. He is also known as a composer, and as one of the pioneers of turntablism – playing the turntable as a musical instrument – in the 1970s.
Founded in 2006 by conductor Olivier Cuendet, ensemBle baBel presents different ways of appropriating old, classical and contemporary music through innovative approaches and improvisation. In 2012, the group started a collaboration with Marclay. In 2016, ensemBle baBel released an album that included Marclay’s “Screenplay,” “Graffiti Composition” and “Shuffle.”
To learn more about the College of Visual and Performing Arts, visit vpa.uncg.edu.
Story by Alyssa Bedrosian, University Communications