In Search of Eastman

A series of conversations about the legacy and lost works of composer and performer Julius Eastman


Fields of Knowledge
  • Artistic legacies
  • Memory
  • Performance

Organizing Institutions


Contributing Institutions



Dustin Hurt, Tiona McClodden

Opens to public





4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

On the web



100% Formal - 0% Informal

Slought and Bowerbird are pleased to announce "In Search of Eastman," a series of conversations about the legacy and lost works of composer and performer Julius Eastman on Saturday, October 17, 2015 from 7-8:30pm. The program, which will be moderated by Tiona McClodden, features a variety of artists, scholars, composers and musicians including Ryan Dohoney, Jace Clayton, Mary Jane Leech, Tracie Morris, and Kyle Gann.

Julius Eastman was born in New York City in 1940 and spent his youth in Ithaca, NY. Eastman studied piano and composition at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, graduating in 1963. Eastman moved to Buffalo, eventually joining the Creative Associates (1968 - 1975), a prestigious new music center noted for its leadership under Morton Feldman. Eastman was a highly regarded performer and was especially note for his performances of Peter Maxwell Davies' "Eight Songs for a Mad King". His recording of the work was nominated for a Grammy in 1973. In 1975, he moved to New York City, where he continued to compose and perform regularly. A series of misfortunes and personal struggles left Eastman homeless in the mid 1980s, with much of his music confiscated when he was evicted from his home. Eastman died in Buffalo in 1990 at age 49.

In the years following his death, with few recordings and many scores presumed lost forever, the memory of Eastman's legacy started to slip away. It wasn't until recently, when composer Mary Jane Leech began searching for Eastman's work, did interest (and information) begin to reemerge. Now, thanks to the work of biographer Renee Levine Packer, scholars Ryan Dohoney and Kyle Gann, and artist Jace Clayton, Eastman's work is ripe for investigation and exploration.

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Ryan Dohoney is an Assistant Professor of Musicology at Northwestern University. His current research recomposes Eastman's fragmentary past and offers ways to rethink how we define sonic geographies and decide whose musical lives matter.

Jace Clayton is on the Faculty of the Bard College MFA Program in Music/Sound. An acclaimed writer, educator, DJ and radio host, he is also the creator of the Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner (2013‐14), which is a touring 60‐minute performance piece for grand pianos, live electronics, and voice.

Mary Jane Leach is a composer/performer whose work reveals a fascination with the physicality of sound, its acoustic properties and how they interact with space.

Tracie Morris is a poet, performer and scholar and leads her own eponymous band. Her sound installations have been presented nationally and internationally. She is also a lead singer for Elliott Sharp's group, Terraplane and co‐editor, with Charles Bernstein, of "Best American Experimental Writing" (2016).

Kyle Gann is a composer and was the new‐music critic for the Village Voice from 1986 to 2005. Since 1997 he has taught music theory, history, and composition at Bard College. He writes the "American Composer" column for Chamber Music magazine, and has received a variety of awards for his writings.

Further Resources

"The Julius Eastman Project"

Mary Jane Leach, "In Search of Julius Eastman" (NewMusicBox, 2005)

Kyle Gann, "'Damned Outrageous': The Music of Julius Eastman" (2005)

Adolfo Doring, "Without A Net: the Resurrection of Julius Eastman" (Video, 2013)

Julius Eastman, "Unjust Malaise" (Audio, 2005)

Renée Levine Packer and Mary Jane Leach, editors, "Gay Guerrilla: Julius Eastman and His Music" (2015)

Other Programs

This program is presented in conjunction with Julius Eastman: That Which Is Fundamental. Other programs include:

Friday, October 16, 8pm
in the Sanctuary of The Rotunda

Julius Eastman's Crazy Nigger (1979) for 4 pianos

Performed by Joe Kubera, Adam Tendler, Michelle Cann, and Dynasty Battle; with a special performance by sound artist Tracie Morris.

More info: bowerbird.org