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Charles Curtis

About this Artist

Cellist Charles Curtis first performed the music of La Monte Young in 1987 as part of Young’s 30-Year Retrospective presented by the Dia Art Foundation in New York City. Since then, Curtis has led numerous performances throughout Europe and the U.S. of Young’s work: all four of the Four Dreams of China (including the world première of the complete cycle), Composition 1960 #7, Poem for Chairs, Tables and Benches Etc., and most importantly Trio for Strings, Young’s 1958 composition now universally acknowledged as the first work of minimalism in music. Curtis devised the Just Intonation tuning of Trio for Strings in consultation with Young in 2004, and in 2015 Curtis and Young worked out the originally intended durations of Trio, making possible the world première of the three-hour Longer Duration Version in Just Intonation, presented at the Dia:Chelsea Dream House in September 2015. Curtis is also one of only a handful of musicians to have appeared in duo formations with Young, performing Richard Maxfield’s Perspectives for La Monte Young for low string instruments and tape, and Terry Jennings’s Piece for Cello and Saxophone, in which Young sang the saxophone part. In 2003 Curtis gave the first performances of La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela’s solo cello work Just Charles and Cello in the Romantic Chord, the only solo composition ever composed by Young for a performer other than himself, in Paris, Berlin, Lyon, and Dijon; the work has subsequently been performed in Bologna, Hamburg, New York, and in the Regenbogenstadl Dream House in Polling, Bavaria. Curtis is also a former member of the Just Alap Raga Ensemble, with whom he performed numerous times in the New York MELA Foundation Dream House as well as at the Guggenheim Museum as part of the exhibition The Third Mind in March 2009.

Curtis has also collaborated closely with Alvin Lucier, Éliane Radigue, Christian Wolff and Tashi Wada, as well as with filmmakers Raha Raissnia and Jeff Perkins. He is a former member of King Missile. Recently Curtis was featured with four contributions to documenta 14 in Athens Greece; and he has presented performances at the Louvre, MOCA Los Angeles, Musikprotokoll Graz, Courtesan Film Festival in Ghent, El Nicho Experimental in Mexico City, Paula Cooper Gallery, Blank Forms, V-A-C Moscow, The Kitchen and The Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, among many other venues. His work focuses on duration, uncompromising attention to the materialities of performance, and a rapport with unexpected perceptual and acoustical responses.