Rhys Chatham: A Crimson Grail (100 Guitar Orchestra)

Saturday 12 January 2019 to Sunday 13 January 2019

In the mid 1970s Rhys Chatham was working alongside sonic experimentalists including Philip Glass, LaMonte Young and Steve Reich in New York, when his world was turned upside down by the Ramones’ self-titled debut album.

Inspired by the power and energy of the electric guitar, Chatham began composing epic, multi-movement pieces for increasingly large guitar ensembles, starting in 1989 with the 100-guitar composition An Angel Moves Too Fast To See. Chatham’s works for guitar orchestra sit at the nexus of contemporary classical composition and provocative late 20th music.

In Sydney, Chatham will conduct a performance of A Crimson Grail for 100 guitarists. This is the fourth ever public performance of this masterwork, following performances in Paris (2005), New York (2009), and Liverpool (2012).

The orchestra of guitarists – surrounding the audience and outfitted with special guitar tunings – creates layers of overtones and harmonics that acoustically ebb and swell, resonating in the performance space.