Taking inspiration from the major theme of music in Ten Americans: After Paul Klee, we paired 11 staff members with 11 works from the exhibition and asked them to create a playlist in response to their individual artwork. Kathryn Rogge, Manager of Academic Programs & Phillips Music, created her playlist in response to Gene Davis’s “Black Flowers.”
Black Flowers got me thinking about polyphonics (multiple voices), with each of the flower stems stretching vertically like an individual voice raising to the sky in song. While polyphonic texture extends to ancient and sacred music from all over the world, it may be found in any composition with overlapping melodies in counterpoint. The “voices” in a polyphonic piece can either be sung by a single voice in overlapping recordings (like Mouth’s Cradle), multiple voices (a whopping 40 voices appear in Spem in Alium) or played on instruments (such as Fables of Faubus); or in this case, painted into the long, slender stems of Gene Davis’s black flowers to create a tension and rising movement evocative of the songs on this list.
Kathryn Rogge, Manager of Academic Programs & Phillips Music
Feeling inspired? Create your own playlist based around works in the exhibition and send it to us at email@example.com and we may feature it on our blog and social media.
Performance of Pedro Lasch’s Abstract Nationalism / National Abstraction: Anthems for Four Voices
“In a way the utopian or ideal audience for this work in terms of having no noise and really perceiving everything at its full capacity, is the polyglot of the absurd extreme, or the multinational being… Politics itself has abstraction at its core. Like the idea of the Four Powers, the idea of representation, all of these things are abstractions. For me at least I hope the project will bring that to the fore, and make it unavoidable. The ceremonial aspect of national ritual.” —Pedro Lasch
Gallery goers were surprised by a spontaneous opera, and then lead into the Music Room for a full recital. The compositions heard were national anthems all sung in the language of the country that falls directly after theirs in the alphabet. Lasch also created new flags combining the elements of multiple flags which were marched throughout the museum.
Below in conversation with Phillips Media Presentation Specialist Katie Micak, Lasch discusses the impetus of the project, its relationship to nationalism, noise, clarity, and the conventions of the museum.
Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series (1940-41) Panel no. 1 “During World War I there was a great migration north by southern African Americans.” Casein tempera on hardboard, 12 x 18 in. Acquired 1942. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
What song would you pair with Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration Series? As part of last year’s Vocal Colors, Wolf Trap Opera Company soprano Andrea Carroll chose Troubled Woman, part of a cycle called ‘Genius Child’ written by American composer Ricky Ian Gordon. Below is our newest audio tour stop: an excerpt from the performance, preceeded by an introduction by Lee Anne Myslewski, the Director of Artistic Administration for Wolf Trap Opera & Classical Programming.
“This is the fifth year that Wolf Trap and The Phillips Collection have collaborated on Vocal Colors, a recital series that uses the thought-provoking works of The Phillips Collection as a springboard for a varied musical evening. Curated by musicians from the Wolf Trap Opera Company, the musical offerings cross genres and time periods, offering new aural perspectives on the respected visual works.”
On June 16 at 12 pm EST, Tracy Cox will lead our first-ever guest #breakforart Twitter chat! We’ll be discussing John Marin’s Pertaining to Fifth Avenue. Have questions about her process or song selection? Leave them as comments here, or join us on Twitter @PhillipsMuseum to participate.