Warhol in The Tenderloin

Basic info

  • Instrumentation: pierot ensemble
  • Year of composition: 2019
  • Duration: 6’00”

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About

“The first thing I notice as I emerge, jetlagged, from Market Street train station is the smell of urine. I haul my luggage to the nearest Starbucks, order an americano, and watch San Francisco wake up. In front of me, a man arrives at his curb-side flower stall. He takes a hose and, in what is clearly a familiar routine, washes the stinking pavement. I later learn that I’ve been sitting at a crossroads. To one side is the financial district. Here, busy professionals in well-cut suits may lunch at any number of quick-but healthy outlets. To the other side is ‘The Tenderloin’ area. Here, thousands of desperate and drug-addled people (largely from ethnic minorities) may sleep rough on any number of comfortable street corners. Between the two areas is SFMOMA. Here, I attend a major exhibition of Andy Warhol which includes his lesser-known ‘oxidation paintings’. These abstract works were created by urinating on a canvas spread with copper-rich paint. The parallel with the piss-soaked street outside in as unavoidable as it is uncomfortable. Warhol in The Tenderloin is a musical response to this experience. However, it is also a far broader commentary. The piece is in five main sections which alternate between “Tenderloin sections” and “museum sections”. Wonky rhythms and unsettled harmony characterise the former. While the latter are based on J.S. Bach’s violin sonata in G minor. The jarring contrast between these sections is the central tension of the piece. Warhol in The Tenderloin was composed for Ensemble Offspring as part of their 2019 Hatched Academy and is dedicated to the ensemble.”