For Philip Guston

Music, visual art installation & light

The music is slow and quiet. Very, very, very quiet. And, it’s very, very long. Three performers coax the sounds from their instruments. Wooden beaters barely touch the cold, steely surface of a vibraphone. Piano keys are depressed so softly that the player can almost feel the hammer move under his fingers. A bass flute whispers darkly – warm breath only just becomes a note. These sounds appear to be sourceless and the piece is four hours long. Soft, gentle chords for four hours. Piano and celeste, flutes and tuned percussion. No sweeping melody, no catchy rhythm, no arresting drama, no gushing emotion. Just soft gentle chords – floating, colliding, disappearing. Notes at the threshold of hearing. For four hours.

Robert Worby in « Notes on For Philip Guston by Morton Feldman »

For Philip Guston is a masterpiece of the American composer Morton Feldman, written in 1984. As many pieces by him, the length is particularly extended: four and a half hours of music, without break, without stops, in one movement. Feldman’s work is about hearing the sound. The sound for itself, for what it produces in our ears, in our body, in our mind. From there comes a unique experience for the listeners as much as for the musicians. An experience of time and of release, of being in the present and inside the moment of the vibrations. The extreme difficulty of the score, along the complexity to manage it, makes the event hard to produce and so quite rare. The Ensemble Vide takes on this fascinating challenge: which are the musicians to be chosen to assume and explore this music? How to think the space and the audience’s seating? What kind of venue for that?


Claire Chase – Flute
Alexandre Babel – Percusssion
Anna D’Errico – Piano & Celesta
Sonia Kacem – Visual art installation
Jonathan O’Hear – Light installation
Denis Schuler – Curator

May 4 – 6, 2018
Centre d’art contemporain, Geneva, CH