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Works & Process at the Guggenheim Let Me Freeze Again to Death by Missy Mazzoli and Off the Grid by Nico Muhly

July 12, 2020 @ 7:30 PM - July 13, 2020 @ 9:00 PM

Works & Process, the performing arts series at the Guggenheim, presents two new Works & Process Artists (WPA) Virtual Commissions by Missy Mazzoli and Nico Muhly on Sunday, July 12 and Monday, July 13, 2020 at 7:30pm EDT. Both WPA Virtual Commissions are co-presented by The Metropolitan Opera. Premiere Link: www.youtube.com/worksandprocess

July 12, 7:30pm EDT
Let Me Freeze Again to Death by Missy Mazzoli – missymazzoli.com
Anthony Roth Costanzo, Vocals
Adam Larsen, Video
Daniel Neumann, Mixing
With samples from Henry Purcell’s “What Power Art Thou (The Cold Song)” from King Arthur

Artist Statement by Missy Mazzoli
In these strange and isolating times I am immersed in electronic music, by necessity imagining works that I can create by myself on a laptop in almost any environment. Let Me Freeze Again to Death began as a purely synthesized piece, but I soon found myself craving something more, something vocal. I needed a beautiful wail that would not only hint at the drama of the present moment but would offset the boxy math of the electronics with some heart-crushing operatic romance. Enter countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo (Ahknaten, Glass Handel), who recorded, in his apartment, an a cappella version Henry Purcell’s aria “What Power Art Thou” (commonly known as “The Cold Song”) from the 1691 opera King Arthur. I dismembered, re-assembled, twisted and tweaked this vocal file (with Anthony’s generous blessing), using Purcell’s aria as a kind of sketch from which to create a completely new electronic work.

Throughout this process the thought of pandemics past and present was never far away. In 1695 Purcell, then at the height of his career, succumbed to tuberculosis at age 36. In 1983 German countertenor and performance artist Klaus Nomi, whose version of The Cold Song is one of the most haunting and memorable out there, died of complications of AIDS at age 39, also at the height of his career. Isolated in my home during the Covid-19 pandemic, I found this aria, it’s history, and in particular this excerpt of the text, all the more powerful:

I can scarcely move
Or draw my breath
I can scarcely move
Or draw my breath
Let me, let me,
Let me freeze again
Let me, let me
Freeze again to death
Let me, let me, let me
Freeze again to death…

Let Me Freeze Again to Death was written before the Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd, but the lines “I can scarcely move or draw my breath” take on new resonance amidst the daily chants of “I can’t breathe”. This piece has become a sonic portrait of the summer of 2020, a time of both extreme isolation and fast connection, of upheaval and reflection, a time that I hope will lead to positive change in the music industry and beyond.

Artist Statement by Adam Larsen
I knew I was going fast but didn’t register I was 100 miles over the speed limit until everything stopped. The time off has made me realize I don’t want to live at that pace. I don’t want to be great at multitasking, “sorry for the delay” emails, or constantly at odds with the life part of the art/life balance. I want to be fully present for all that I love and if that starts by closing my eyes to appreciate my good friend’s new music, then it’s a start.

July 13, 7:30pm EDT
Off the Grid by Nico Muhly – nicomuhly.com
Nico Muhly, Synthesizer
Adam Tendler, Piano
Artist Statement by Nico Muhly  
I’ve known Adam Tendler forever, but have never had the chance to write for him, and this wretched quarantine allowed me to write not only for him but for both of us at once. Off the Grid  is a duet for the two of us, and has a simple structure: a cycle of 40 chords, with the last chord being a kind of “resolution” of the first chord. The piano plays almost constant sixteenth notes, with agitated little patterns or sometimes little proto-melodies, whereas the keyboard provides clear articulations of the chord cycle. Each chord is meant to be both a resolution of the previous bar and a strange kind of upbeat to the following.

Works & Process Artists (WPA) Virtual Commissions, a direct response to the pandemic, was launched to financially support artists and nurture their creative process during these challenging times. Works & Process, the performing arts series at the Guggenheim, is granting more than $150,000 in commissioning funds to artists who have been or were supposed to be featured at Works & Process. Artists from a wide variety of genres have been commissioned to create new works, less than 5 minutes long, while social distancing, that will premiere on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube (@worksandprocess) every Sunday and Monday at 7:30pm and can be viewed anytime after.

WPA Virtual Commissions Playlist

Works & Process at the Guggenheim
Described by The New York Times as “an exceptional opportunity to understand something of the creative process,” for 35 years, New Yorkers have been able to see, hear, and meet the most acclaimed artists in the world, in an intimate setting unlike any other. Works & Process, the performing arts series at the Guggenheim, has championed new works and offered audiences unprecedented access to generations of leading creators and performers. Most performances take place in the Guggenheim’s intimate Frank Lloyd Wright-designed 273-seat Peter B. Lewis Theater. In 2017, Works & Process established a new residency and commissioning program, inviting artists to create new works, made in and for the iconic Guggenheim rotunda. In 2020, Works & Process Artists (WPA) Virtual Commissions was created to financially support artists and nurture their creative process during the pandemic. worksandprocess.org. Lead funding for Works & Process is provided by the Ford Foundation, the Christian Humann Foundation, Leon Levy Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Evelyn Sharp Foundation, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Works & Process has received support from the U.S. Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program and NYC Employee Retention Grant Program.


July 12, 2020 @ 7:30 PM
July 13, 2020 @ 9:00 PM