Artists-In-Residence Alumni Collaborations: Audrey Chen & Ne(x)tworks (Joan La Barbara + Miguel Frasconi)

Drawing its participants from the first 10 years of ISSUE Project Room’s Artists-In-Residence Program, AIR Alumni Collaborations is a performance that brings together former ISSUE resident artists in striking new combinations. Eccentric, interdisciplinary, and deeply experimental, the new collaborations showcase the wide-range of approaches found within the ISSUE community, amplifying each artist’s personal aesthetics while drawing unexpected parallels between their work.

Thursday, January 19th, ISSUE presents three first-ever collaborative performances by former ISSUE Artists-In-Residence focusing on highlighting their parallel and divergent performance strategies. Cellist, vocalist, and electronics producer Audrey Chen performs alongside two key members of the collaborative ensemble Ne(x)tworks: renowned vocalist Joan La Barbara and composer, improviser and electro-acoustician Miguel Frasconi.

Audrey Chen is a Chinese-American musician who was born into a family of material scientists, doctors and engineers, outside of Chicago in 1976. Parting ways with the family convention, she turned to the cello at age 8 and voice at 11. After years of classical and conservatory training in both instruments, with a resulting specialization in early and new music, she parted ways again in 2003 to begin new negotiations with sound in order to discover a more individually honest aesthetic. Over the past decade plus, her predominant focus has been her solo work with the cello, voice and electronics, but she has more recently begun to shift back towards the exploration of the voice as a primary instrument. Recent projects, aside from performing solo, include her long running voices duo with London based artist, Phil Minton, and duos with NYC abstract turntablist, Maria Chavez, French guitarist, Jean-Yves Evrard, BEAM SPLITTER, with Norwegian trombonist, Henrik Munkeby Nørstebø, the “romantic noise duo” AFTERBURNER with Doron Sadja (electronics/light projections), with modular synth player, Richard Scott, with American percussionist, Flandrew Fleisenberg and a collaborative project with German conceptual artist, John Bock. Chen has performed across Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Taiwan, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and the USA. In 2011, in addition to her performances, she was awarded the prestigious Mary Sawyers Baker Prize, an award that was established to support individual artists living, and working in Maryland. Since 2011, she relocated to Berlin, Germany from Baltimore, MD USA and continues to maintain an active international touring schedule.

Composer/performer Joan La Barbara is renowned for her unique vocabulary of experimental and extended vocal techniques (her “signature sounds”: multiphonics, circular singing, ululation, glottal clicks), influencing generations of composers and singers. Awards and prizes: Foundation for Contemporary Arts John Cage Award (2016); DAAD-Berlin and Civitella Ranieri Artist Residencies; Guggenheim and 7 NEA Fellowships; numerous commissions for chamber ensembles, theater, orchestra, chorus, interactive technology; soundscores for dance, video and film, including electronic/vocal score for Sesame Street. Her multi-layered textural compositions have premiered at Festival d'Automne à Paris, Brisbane Biennial, Lincoln Center, MaerzMusik Berlin, Warsaw Autumn, Holland Festival and many other international venues. Exploring ways of immersing the audience in her music, La Barbara placed the American Composers Orchestra around and among the audience in Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, building her sonic painting “in solitude this fear is lived”, inspired by Agnes Martin’s minimalist art. Artist faculty member of NYU and Mannes/The New School.

Miguel Frasconi is a composer and improvisor specializing in the relationship between acoustic objects and musical form. His instrumentarium includes glass objects, modular electronics, laptop, and constructions of his own design. His recent activities include music for dance, theater and audio books. Miguel worked closely with composers John Cage and James Tenney, and has performed and recorded with composers Jon Hassell, Pauline Oliveros, and Morton Subotnick. In September 2012 his CAGE100 Festival was called "one of the best observances of John Cage's 100th birthday" by the New York Times and included performances by his ensembles The Noisy Toy Piano Orchestra and the John Cage Variety Show Big Band. Miguel's music has been released on New Albion Records, Porter Records, and a recording of his string quartets will soon be released on the Tzadik label.

Ne(x)tworks is a collaborative ensemble of musicians creating and interpreting work that examines the dynamic between composition and improvisation. In its live performances, recordings, and educational workshops, the group constantly strives for a meaningful dialogue with the past, present, and future of creative music. For over a decade, Ne(x)tworks has embodied the tradition of the “performing composer.” The group regularly presents evening-length concerts of new and recent works made by its members. Additional repertoire includes open scores by New York School composers and their European counterparts, further experiments by the composer performers of the AACM and SoHo Scene of the 1970’s, the so-called Downtown composers of the 80’s, and commissioned works by like-minded contemporary colleagues.