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Aspen Art Museum


Nico Muhly

May 13, 2011-Jul 17, 2011

American composer Nico Muhly works in eclectic contexts and at a dizzyingly prolific pace. Drawing inspiration equally from English Renaissance liturgical music, downtown minimalism of the sixties and seventies, and more popular forms, Muhly has created not only orchestral works and choral compositions, but also film scores, ballets, and string arrangements for rock bands.

Playing with the ways that music can be conceived, performed, or experienced as public, Muhly’s work, Drones for Aspen, was composed specifically for low-power FM broadcast. The work could be accessed from any standard FM radio and becomes as pervasive as the radio waves that carry it. Whether accessed through bedside clocks in hotel rooms, receivers in cars, or portable radios on a hike, the experience was both intimate and collective. Vintage transistor radios could be checked out from the museum, and visitors were welcome to borrow one for a contemplative hike down the Rio Grande trail. In addition, Muhly wrote a score to be layered on top of the composition, allowing musicians to augment the work with their own individual and collective performances.

As part of Aspen’s Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Parade, this open-ended music was played by a procession of musicians accompanying the broadcast. A number of small concerts will be organized for museum grounds and other locations throughout Aspen during the summer, and two special concert performances of Drones for Aspen will be presented in collaboration with the Aspen Music Festival and School.

General exhibition support was provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Exhibition lectures are presented as part of the Questrom Lecture Series. Concert performances of Drones for Aspen were presented in collaboration with the Aspen Music Festival and School.