Founded in 2019 by Gray Center Director and UChicago Associate Professor of Music and the Humanities, Seth Brodsky, Gray Sound is a performance series focusing on experimental music and sound. The Fall 2020 - Spring 2021 season of Gray Sound is curated by Seth Parker Woods, UChicago Lecturer/Artist in Residence.
Envisioned as an ongoing performance and discussion series, Gray Sound represents a chance for artists and the broader community to tease the boundaries of sound—when it moves from voice to music, from a recognizable tune to noise.
This year, in the midst of the ever present global pandemic, we as a people are looking at the hard truths of who we are as a public. Themes of identity, place, ownership, environment, noi(z)e and care run rampant in the news, blogs and creative work that has surfaced since March 2020. For the 2020-21 season of Gray Sound, Seth Parker Woods has curated a cohort of artists whose creative practices explore multiple convergences of the aforementioned ideas, and whose latest output, either in text/sound formatted interviews or new performative work, is presented to our global audience for reflection and alignment. We look forward to sharing these events with you from our homes to yours.
In January 2020, Gray Sound kicked off with MUSIC'S OVER: Listening with Peter Ablinger, a 9-day residency with the experimental composer. Ablinger's first visit to Chicago threaded talks, composition seminars, and experimental discussions in between multiple performance events featuring world premieres and internationally renowned ensembles. From April - July 2020, Gray Sound presented a weekly music-and-sound streaming series, GRAY SOUND SESSIONS, featuring virtual concerts, happenings, experiments, a playing-around with form and platform during quarantine.
Image: Damon Locks, Where Future Unfolds, screen print, 18”X24”, 2017
The Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry hosts Volume 6, Part 2 of Gray Sound Sessions: Theaster Gates and special guests.
Presented in partnership with the South Side Home Movie Project and Arts + Public Life, the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry hosts its ninth in a series of Gray Sound Sessions: Spinning Home Movies with Seth Parker Woods.
The Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry hosts its eighth in a series of Gray Sound Sessions: Mendi + Keith Obadike's sound work “Lull,” an eight-hour “lullaby” using “field recordings and slow-moving harmonies from guitars, bell plates, and elongated vocal melodies to create a sonic environment for rest.”
The Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry hosts its fifth edition of Gray Sound Sessions with a double feature:
Act I: Jenna Lyle
From a meager setup, composer-performer Jenna Lyle peeks into the sonic life of deconstructed technology, drawing out artifacts and delighting in discovered eccentricities. For her installment of the Gray Sound Sessions, she wallows in her enjoyment of all things *tape*.
Act II: Seth Kim-Cohen presents,
Clouds of Magellan
a sonic-fiction / science-fact / present-future
sample-operetta for quarantinetta and library Baretta
(don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time)
performed in one act by names_of_music
The Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry hosts its fourth in a series of Gray Sound Sessions, a double-double feature: Nicola L. Hein + Viola Yip, and Cooper Crain + Haley Fohr.
First, in Viola Yip and Nicola Hein’s first-ever purely online performance, they will convey their intense set as a duo with lights and electric guitar, with surround sound and site-specific installation into the online space. Then, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and recording aficionado Cooper Crain and vocalist, singer-songwriter Haley Fohr team up to create a vocal and synthesis piece that evokes the elasticity of time during our present quarantine. The piece is accompanied with a one of a kind visual response by Sanae Yamada.
The Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry hosts its third in a series of Gray Sound Sessions: Daniel Wyche.
Daniel Wyche is a Chicago-based guitarist, composer and improviser. Working with a wide range of physical preparations, extended techniques, and pedal instruments, his solo recorded work and live performances are characterized by long-form structured improvisations. His 2016 record "Our Severed Sleep" (with Ryan Packard) was called “a blowout to wake the dead” by the Wire and the 2017 self-titled release by the trio of Wyche, Ben Baker Billington and Mark Shippy on Astral Spirits was referred to as “flat-out exhilarating improvised mania" by Marc Masters...
The Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry is pleased to host its second in a series of Gray Sound Sessions: cellist Seth Parker Woods, who will present a performative offering featuring works by composers Fredrick Gifford, Coleridge Taylor-Perkinson, and Monty Adkins.
The Gray Center inaugurates its new streaming series Gray Sound Sessions with a singular event: Opera Povera's production of FULL PINK MOON: Opera Povera in Quarantine, a livestream fundraising opera performance of visionary composer Pauline Oliveros’s open-form people’s opera entitled “The Lunar Opera; Deep Listening For_Tunes.”
A durational virtual opera featuring vocalists, instrumentalists, noise practitioners, and performers of all kinds, FULL PINK MOON will feature a collective virtual performance by 250+ artists from around the world, and a pre-opera virtual discussion co-hosted by former Gray Center fellows George Lewis and Sean Griffin, artist Ron Athey, and additional guest curators and artists. Featuring an inclusive and collaborative score by Oliveros, FULL PINK MOON allows each performer to actively determine all creative choices: when and how to perform, choose cues, characters, costumes, and props, and harness creative performance power to reach out and share with each other in a time of separation and quarantine with a collective structure that Oliveros defined as “dedicated to tolerance and freedom.”
A conversation and performance with Julia Eckhardt, a musician and curator in the field of the sonic arts. She is a founding member and artistic director of Q-O2 workspace in Brussels, for which she conceptualized various thematic research projects. As a performer of composed and improvised music she has collaborated with numerous artists, and extensively with Eliane Radigue. She has performed internationally, and released a number of recordings. She has been lecturing about topics such as sound, gender and public space, and is (co-)author of The Second Sound: Conversation on Gender and Music, Grounds for Possible Music, The Middle Matter: Sound as Interstice, and Éliane Radigue: Intermediary Spaces/Espaces intermédiaires. Nomi Epstein, founder and leader of a.pe.ri.od.ic, and Seth Parker Woods, artist-in-residence at the University of Chicago, join Julia in conversation.
“From the different modes of operation of art I prefer the one of setting a frame—not to fill it, but only to set it, as a suggestion, as an invitation to perception. Within the frame, something appears that is not art itself, but is made visible by it. The simplest example of this is the rectangle I shape with my fingers to enclose a frame...
a•pe•ri•od•ic presents 3 Places Chicago, an hour-length work from the ever-evolving Places series by Peter Ablinger. This site specific piece explores the acoustic characteristics of three unique spaces. Prior to the concert, each space is acoustically “measured” in order for the composer to identify the space’s prominent frequencies so that he may prepare scores specific to those rooms. With each performance, a new score is made and titled with its location...
Composer Peter Ablinger and Chicago-based new music group Fonema Consort will delve together into an array of meanings of the human voice that preoccupy both parties—a clash of artistic worlds having in common the challenge of performative and perceptual notions in music. The septagenarian composer—one whose creative output intersects the modernist and conceptual, performative and technological—will create a new piece for the ensemble, drawing from previous reflections on the meaning of song...
Eric Wubbels will perform selections from Peter Ablinger's ground-breaking "Voices and Piano" series, with the composer at the mixing desk. The highlight of the evening is the world premiere performance of one of the newest additions to the series, a work using the voice of French radical intellectual and artist Georges Bataille...
Our special Peter Ablinger Sidebar will revolve around a fabulous elephant in the room: a large quasi-living/ghost-in-the-machine/computer-controlled “Automatenklavier” or automaton-piano. We’ll all take a listen to Ablinger’s latest work in his third Quadraturen or “Squarings” series, an installation in collaboration with artist and instrument builder Winfried Ritsch: MUSIC’S OVER...
Tuesday, January 21 – Saturday, January 25, daily 10am-5pm
Running throughout the week at the Gray Center Lab will be the world premiere of MUSIC’S OVER, one of the most ambitious of Ablinger’s Quadraturen (“Squarings”) series: a computer-controlled piano performs a clangorous, spectrally derived “phonorealist” transcription of a raucous live Doors performance from 1970. Come by and press the red button on the piano, and prepare to lose and refind your way...
Wet Ink Ensemble performs two works by Peter Ablinger—IEAOV "8 Vitrines, Pigment Dust" for percussion and 4-channel electronics, featuring percussionist Ian Antonio, and Black Series, a collection of rigorously organized open-instrumentation works scored "for Rock Band" which must be performed from memory—alongside a world premiere by Sam Pluta written for a sextet of Wet Ink...