Inspired in equal parts by both Robert Rauschenberg and Rem Koolhaas, Manhattanism is a work that speaks to multiple narratives. A long standing desire to explore possibilities of the representational in music, coupled with my long-awaited move to New York yielded a unique moment for me, wherein I imagined a musical companion piece so to speak, to Rauschenberg’s “Combine” paintings of the late 1950s and early ‘60s. Incorporating found objects from recordings I made around New York, I composed them into the texture of the instrumental writing such that their respective identities could never go unnoticed. Of course, given the obvious iconography of the sound objects, the subject of the work could be none other than the city itself. 

Koolhaas speaks of Manhattan in his wonderful book Delirious New York “as a laboratory: a mythical island where the invention and testing of a metropolitan lifestyle and its attendant architecture could be pursued as a collective experiment in which the entire city became a factory of man-made experience, where the real and the natural ceased to exist.” Just as Koolhaas structures the book as a simulacrum of Manhattan’s topography (the grid), I allowed the piece to become a simulacrum of the ethos of his Manhattan: the self-contained laboratory dedicated to the exploration of one single complex theme, bringing along both its sublime heights and terrifying lows. It is a love song for the city.

PREMIERE February 28, 2010. ICE Ensemble.
LOCATION Roulette SoHo, New York City
PERSONNEL Flute/Piccolo, E-flat/Bass clarinet Horn in F, Violin, Violoncello, Contrabass, Piano (with MIDI keyboard to trigger sound files) Percussionist
TECHNOLOGY 2-channel audio, sample playback