Benefit for Three Operas by Robert Ashley - Directed by Alex Waterman for the 2014 Whitney Biennial

ISSUE Project Room hosts a very special benefit party and concert to support 3 Operas by legendary American composer Robert Ashley, to premiere this April at the Whitney Biennial. Peter Gordon, Ned Sublette, Elio Villafranca and Alex Waterman perform solo sets.

Doors open at 6:30pm, performance begins at 7:30pm.
Open Bar from 6:30-8:00pm, generously sponsored by NY Distilling, features Dorothy Parker Gin.

Single tickets may be reserved with a pledge of $50 or more via the project’s Kickstarter campaign. Pledges of $125 or more include an invitation for two. An RSVP confirmation will be sent through Kickstarter following your contribution. Seating is limited, make your pledge early to secure your tickets.

3 operas. 30 artists. 3 weeks.
In April 2014, an extraordinary group of multi-disciplinary artists will stage three operas by avant-garde composer Robert Ashley, directed by Alex Waterman at the 2014 Whitney Biennial in NYC.

The 3 operas span Ashley’s illustrious career: a recreation of his early work The Trial of Anne Opie Wehrer and Unknown Accomplices for Crimes Against Humanity (1968); a live television production of Vidas Perfectas, a new Spanish version of his monumental work Perfect Lives (1983) originally premiered by ISSUE Project Room in 2011; and the premiere of a new opera for six voices with an intimate account of Ashley’s life, CRASH (2014).

Performed over 3 consecutive weeks as part of the 2014 Whitney Biennial, Alex Waterman will stage the operas in a series of public performances and living installations.

Peter Gordon makes are rare solo appearance, performing solo with electronics, synth and sax. Peter Gordon, a seminal figure in the downtown New York music community, is a composer, producer and saxophonist whose work is noted for an original blend of lyricism, wit, and drama – often with a funky beat. Gordon is best known for his Love of Life Orchestra, which integrates experimentalism with pop grooves. He has an ongoing collaboration with video artist Kit Fitzgerald and has composed music for film, theater and performance, earning him Obie and Bessie Awards. Gordon’s works have been released on the Lovely Music, Lust-Unlust, CBS Masterworks, Warner Brothers, Bridge Records, Newtone and DFA labels. Recent releases include his opera with Lawrence Weiner, “The Society Architect Ponders the Golden Gate Bridge”, on the “Crosstalk” anthology (Bridge Records); the retrospective “Love of Life Orchestra” (DFA Records), and his collaboration with Factory Floor, “Beachcombing” (Optimo Music.) Gordon's "Symphony #5" will be released in May on FOOM Music (UK).

Ned Sublette, star of Vidas Perfectas, is known for his work integrating musical, cultural, and political history. As a singer-songwriter, his albums include Kiss You Down South (Postmambo); Cowboy Rumba (Palm Pictures); and Monsters from the Deep (with Lawrence Weiner) and Ships at Sea, Sailors and Shoes (with Lawrence Weiner and the Persuasions) (Excellent). His song “Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly” (1981), was released by Willie Nelson in 2006. In the 1990s he co-founded the record label Qbadisc, which pioneered the marketing of contemporary Cuban music in the United States in the early 90s. He produced many episodes of the public radio program Afropop Worldwide and co-founded their Hip Deep series. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Tulane Rockefeller Humanities Fellow, and a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library. He is the author of The Year Before the Flood (2009); The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square (2008); and Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo (2004), and with Constance Sublette, of the forthcoming The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry (2015).

Born in the Pinar del Río province of Cuba, Steinway Artist pianist and composer Elio Villafranca was classically trained in percussion and composition at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba. Since his arrival in the U.S. in mid 1995, Elio Villafranca is at the forefront of the latest generation of remarkable pianists, composers and bandleaders. Last year, Mr. Villafranca was among the 5 pianists hand picked by Chick Corea to perform at the first Chick Corea Jazz Festival, curated by Chick him self at JALC. He also received a 2010 Grammy Nomination in the Best Latin Jazz Album of the Year category. Over the years Elio Villafranca has recorded and performed nationally and internationally as a leader, featuring jazz master artists such as Pat Martino, Terell Stafford and Billy Hart, among others. As a sideman he has collaborated with leading jazz and Latin jazz artists including: Wynton Marsalis; Jon Faddis and Billy Harper, among others. He is based in New York City, and he is currently resident professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.

Alex Waterman is a cellist, composer, writer, and teacher. He has completed three books with the typographer Will Holder--Agape, Between Thought and Sound, and The Tiger's Mind, and they are completing a new book on the American opera composer, Robert Ashley: Yes, But is it Edible? Beatrice Gibson and Alex Waterman's collectively written and scored film, A Necessary Music, premiered at the Whitney Museum ISP show and won the Tiger Prize for Best Short Film at the Rotterdam Film Festival in 2008. His writings have appeared in Dot Dot Dot, Paregon, BOMB, and Artforum. He designed the sound installations for SHOW and PREMIERE by Maria Hassabi. Waterman is directing Robert Ashley's opera Vidas Perfectas--which has been performed in New York and London (at the Serpentine Pavilion and Cafe OTO). Vidas Perfectas will return to New York in a 'live television' version at the Whitney Biennial (April, 2014) and travel on to Ballroom Marfa and the El Paso Opera. He teaches at the Bard College MFA program, New York University, and has taught--alongside Will Holder-- at the Banff Centre for the Arts.