Claire Chase, flute
Density - A recital of music for Flute and Electronics
Ms. Chase is a 2014 Catherine Thornhill Steele Visiting Artist.
In my current daydreams, I muse that I will be 58 years old in 2036, at the 100th anniversary of Density 21.5. I dream that I will have commissioned and premiered the 21st century Density by then, a work that will singularly change the definition of the instrument. What will it look like? What will it sound like? Where will the newest innovations on the flute, humankind’s oldest musical instrument, take us? A generation of flute-players will have devised new tuning systems, discovered volumes of new techniques, written encyclopedias of new performance practices, reached new extremities of virtuosity, discovered groundbreaking new ways of integrating technology with live performance...
There are some days that I am certain that solo flute playing will have pushed itself firmly into the realm of performance art and conceptual art by the mid-21st century, that we will have exhausted the concert form as we know it. Then there are days when I am so moved by the promise of a few notes in the palm of a hand, uttered with the simplicity of an exhalation, that I have faith all over again in melody itself as an agent of change throughout the ages.
Oskar Fischinger once told a young John Cage: “Everything in the world has a spirit that can be released through its sound.” Varèse unleashed this spirit for the flute, for the one all alone, in these staggering four minutes of music. Did he go as far as one could go, metaphorically and otherwise? Of what will the Density of our time be made? Of osmium? Of signal processing? Of wood? Of carbon? Of flesh? Of air?
- Claire Chase, excerpted from John Zorn’s ARCANA VI, Musicians on Music (2012)
About the Artist
Flutist Claire Chase is a soloist, collaborative artist, arts entrepreneur and cultural activist. Over the past decade she has given the world premieres of over 100 new works for flute, many of them tailor-made for her. Described as a “spectacular flutist” by The New Yorker, “indefatigable” by TimeOut New York, and a “virtuoso of amazing dexterity and sensitivity” by the Chicago Tribune, Chase has given critically acclaimed recitals recently at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, and the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center. Highlights of the current season include solo performances at the Guangzhou Triennial (Guangzhou, China), Museu Pinacoteca (São Paolo, Brazil), and debuts in Berlin, Frankfurt, Vienna, Paris and London. She has released two critically acclaimed solo albums on New Focus Recordings – Aliento (2010) and Terrestre (2012) – and tonight releases her third, Density.
Chase co-founded the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) in 2001 and serves as the organization’s Artistic Director and CEO in addition to playing over fifty concerts a year as an ensemble member. ICE has premiered more than 600 works since its inception, and has pioneered a new artist-driven organizational model that earned the company a Trailblazer Award from the American Music Center in 2010.
In 2013, Chase founded The Pnea Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of the flute and its repertoire in the 21st century through commissions, community engagement, and interdisciplinary collaborations. She was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2012.