Rhys Chatham: Many Guitarists, One Chord

By Whitney Phaneuf, East Bay Express

In November, composer Rhys Chatham will perform "A Secret Rose" at Craneway Pavilion — and he needs one hundred local guitarists to pull it off.
The composer's ambitious new composition, "A Secret Rose," will be performed on November 17 at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond.

"A Secret Rose" is written for a one-hundred-member electric-guitar orchestra, and is similar to "Guitar Trio" in that it's structured for guitarists to play a single repeated chord at different times to create a dissonant melody. The November performance of "A Secret Rose" will mark its West Coast premiere and third-ever staging. The organizers — Bay Area contemporary music nonprofit Other Minds — will start accepting applications for guitarists at OtherMinds.org on Saturday, June 15. East Bay musicians are especially encouraged to apply.

The orchestra will be broken into three groups to accommodate guitarists at many levels of experience: serious amateurs (people who play electric guitar on a regular basis); semi-professionals (someone with a day job who performs regularly, but may not read music); and professionals (trained musicians who read music). Members of Chatham's past guitar ensembles have included musicians from Sonic Youth, Tortoise, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Hüsker Dü.

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