Mr. Lamar plumbs the depth of all-American trauma with visionary verve
— Ken Johnson, The New York Times
Lamar is an intellectual powerhouse, but his work is informed by
that thinking — not constrained by it. It is as emotional as it is thoughtful.
— Hugh Ryan, Out Magazine
A tactile, visual, and auditory explosion of important ideas that are usually left
to society's margins.
— Jonathan Curiel, San Francisco Weekly
New York Premiere / Multi-Media Concert
January 13 and 14 at 7 PM and 10 PM
Funeral Doom Spiritual is a song of mourning for what Anthony Paul Farley calls “the motionless movement of death through slavery, segregation, and neo-segregation.” This new monodrama composed by M. Lamar and Hunter Hunt-Hendrix draws on themes of apocalypse, end times, and rapture found in Negro Spirituals, what Lamar calls “Doom Spirituals.” It explores radical historical expressions and futuristic longings for destruction of the white supremacist world order. Taking place a century into the future, the piece features the male soprano Lamar on piano, accompanied by two basses, two contrabasses, and electronics, enveloped in immersive light and video.
Composers: M. Lamar & Hunter Hunt-Hendrix
Librettists: M. Lamar & Tucker Culbertson
Voice & Piano: M. Lamar
String Arrangements: Hunter Hunt-Hendrix
Additional Arrangements: James Ilgenfritz & the Anagram Ensemble
Electronics: Hunter Hunt-Hendrix
Art Director: Sabin Michael Calvert
Costume Designer: Erik Bergrin
Production Coordinator: Tori Sheehan
Bass: James Ilgenfritz & Carl Testa
Cello: Meaghan Burke
Viola: Stephanie Griffin
Trumpet: Thomas Verchot
Electronics & Trombone: Chris McIntyre
At National Sawdust
Co-presented with National Sawdust
Show Run Time: 70 Minutes
Post-Performance Conversation will follow the 7pm show on January 14.
Photo by M. Lamar
M. Lamar (Composer, Librettist, Voice, & Piano) works across opera, metal, performance, video, sculpture, and installation to craft sprawling narratives of radical racial and sexual transformation and becomings. Mr. Lamar is a self-described Negrogothic Devil-worshipping free black man in the blues tradition. Lamar holds a BFA from The San Francisco Art Institute and attended the Yale School of Art, sculpture program, before dropping out to pursue music. Lamar’s work has been presented internationally, most recently at Merkin Concert Hall New York, The Lab San Francisco, The Great Hall at Cooper Union New York, PS1’s Greater New York, The international Performance Art Festival Copenhagen, Issue Project Room, Human Resources Los Angeles, Walter and McBean Galleries at the San Francisco Art Institute, Participant Inc., New York; New Museum, New York; Södra Teatern, Stockholm; Warehouse9, Copenhagen; WWDIS Fest, Gothenburg and Stockholm; The International Theater Festival, Donzdorf, Germany; Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York; Performance Space 122, New York; and African American Art & Culture Complex, San Francisco; among others. Mr. Lamar continues to study classical and bel canto technique with Ira Siff, and is a recipient of grants from Material Vodka, the Rema Hort Mann Foundation (2015), Harpo Foundation (2014-2015), and Franklin Furnace Fund (2013–14).
Hunter Hunt-Hendrix (Composer & Electronics) is a composer-philosopher-poet known primarily as the author of the text “Transcendental Black Metal” and as the guitarist, songwriter, and conceptual architect of the band Liturgy. Drawing inspiration from romanticism, the internet, black metal, avant-garde classical music, rap, post-structuralist psychoanalysis, and the history of western philosophy and occultism, he has performed extensively in the US and Europe, including at the Pitchfork, Primavera and Unsound festivals and at art spaces including Almine Rech, Essex Street, Greene Naftali, Museum of Modern Art and Issue Project Room. His album The Ark Work was ranked #1 avant-garde album of 2015 by Spin Magazine and by Rolling Stone. He lives and works in New York
Sabin Michael Calvert (Art Director) is a comic artist and long time collaborator of M. Lamar. He has been instrumental in the visual design and direction of M. Lamar's stage work as well as albums art and overall aesthetic. Calvert has help to mold Lamar's Negrogothic aesthetics drawing from underground black metal/punk/comic styles. Mr. Calvert has served as Art director for M. Lamar's staged productions of Negro Antichrist, Speculum Orum: Shackled to the Dead, Surveillance Punishment and The Black Psyche as well as Funeral Doom Spiritual.
Tucker Culbertson (Librettist) co-wrote the librettos for DESTRUCTION and Funeral Doom Spiritual, and collaborated on staging and story for Negro Antichrist and Surveillance Punishment and the Black Psyche with and for M. Lamar. Tucker talks, writes, studies, teaches, directs and performs in a few incommensurable voices and spaces, focusing on the twisted kinship among white supremacy, national security, and state sovereignty as rationalizations of ritual violence. He is studying theology at Union Theological Seminary, and has been a professor of constitutional law and political theory at Syracuse, UC-Berkeley, and San Francisco State. His writings on queer equality, human animality, colorblind racisms, constitutional terrorism, and sexual predators’ proper liberties appear in academic journals, blogs, and anthologies of critical legal theory.
James Ilgenfritz (Strings) leads the pan-stylistic experimental music group The Anagram Ensemble and co-leads Hypercolor (with Lukas Ligeti and Eyal Maoz). A Michigan native, James has lived in New York for over ten years. James has worked as a performer with Anthony Braxton, Pauline Oliveros, Roscoe Mitchell, Elliott Sharp, John Zorn, Ensemble Pamplemousse, The SEM Ensemble, The Either/Or Ensemble, and many other major figures in musical experimentation. In 2015, James presented a weeklong residency of his work at John Zorn’s venue The Stone, and released two CDs: The Ticket That Exploded (Con D’Or Records), his 2011 opera based on the novel by William S. Burroughs, and the self-titled debut by the trio Hypercolor on Tzadik Records. As New York City’s first Suzuki Bass teacher, Ilgenfritz teaches privately and at Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. He is a graduate of University of Michigan & University of California San Diego. Ilgenfritz also runs the Infrequent Seams record label, which has released music by Philip White, Dan Blake, Devin Maxwell, and in 2016 will be releasing CDs featuring Elliott Sharp, Steve Buscemi, and Ilgenfritz’s second solo CD, featuring works commissioned from Elliott Sharp, Annie Gosfield, JG Thirlwell, and Miya Masaoka.
The Anagram Ensemble is an evolving collective of performers operating under the direction of James Ilgenfritz, integrating the performance practice of improvisers with that of a new music ensemble. Literary influences abound in recent projects, including Anagram Ensemble’s performance of James Ilgenfritz’s William Burroughs-influenced opera The Ticket That Exploded, the dance-opera Deleted Scenes (produced in collaboration with choreographer Stephanie Sleeper & SLEEPDANCE, with texts by Kathy Acker, William Burroughs, Georges Bataille, and others), and The Travel Agency Is On Fire (produced in collaboration with Experiments In Opera and featuring eleven composers, with texts from Anthony Burgess, Jean Genet, Jack Kerouac, Arthur Rimbaud, and William Shakespeare). In keeping with the spirit of self-sufficient enterprise that drove the radical experimentalism of last quarter of the 20th century, Anagram designs each new project to incorporate musical and conceptual elements of multiple performative traditions, all while incorporating esoteric texts and concepts from the literary and philosophical worlds, as well as unorthodox traditions in the visual and performance art world. The Anagram Ensemble has appeared at Incubator Arts Project, the Firehouse Space, Issue Project Room, Roulette, and The Stone. The Anagram Ensemble has performed the work of such composers as Natacha Diels, Jürg Frey, Lukas Ligeti, Devin Maxwell, Pauline Oliveros, Elliott Sharp, JG Thirlwell, Katherine Young, and M Lamar, many commissioned specifically for the ensemble.
Erik Bergrin (Costume Designer) is a costume designer and maker and fiber artist working out of Brooklyn. His costume credits include a variety of one off pieces for downtown performers, shows such as Goodbar at the Public Theater, White Hot Christmas, and musicians such as Lady Gaga, Peaches, And Casey Spooner. Some of his press includes films such as Violent Tendencies, tv shows such as Americas Next Top Model and Make me a Supermodel, and periodicals such as The NY Times, Star, Dazed and Confused, NY Magazine, Dust, Schon, Wad, Ponytail, Bullet, Metro Pop, Homme Style, O’ology Taiwan, Zink, Dahse, Playbill.com, Dash, Zoo and many more. He is currently in the process of building a series of very large woven and coiled fiber sculptures based around the process of what happens to the mind during the death process. When he isn’t creating Erik spends his time studying Buddhist philosophy and meditation.