Institute of Contemporary Arts
The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH
Buy tickets here.


18.30 Cinema 1

As part of a series of programmes devoted to the work of composer Maryanne Amacher, her former collaborator Bill Dietz is in conversation with musicologist Amy Cimini, author of a forthcoming monograph on Amacher.

The conversation will be followed by a screening of the film Torse (1977) by Charles Atlas. This two-channel work documents Merce Cunningham’s eponymous choreography through multiple cameras, performed to Amacher’s composition Remainder (1976). It is a rare recording of Amacher’s work from this time, which was often specific to singular sites, iterations and scenarios.


The Maryanne Amacher programme continues on Friday 31 May with a talk presented by Bill Dietz and Amy Cimini followed by the UK premiere of GLIA (2005).

Torse, 1977, Dir. Charles Atlas, HD
restoration of 16mm double
projection, 55 min.

Maryanne Amacher

Maryanne Amacher, Berlin, 2005 (also captured — Peter Ablinger)
photographed by Bill Dietz

Maryanne Amacher was born in 1938 in Kane, Pennsylvania. She enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania in 1955, where she studied with composer and theorist Constant Vauclain and composers George Rochberg and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Amacher went on to hold a series of fellowships – at the University of Illinois’ Experimental Music Studio (EMS), MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS), SUNY Buffalo, Radcliffe, the Capp Street Project in San Francisco and many others, including international fellowships. After meeting John Cage at the University of Illinois in 1968, she went on to collaborate with him on Lecture on the Weather (1975) and later created Close Up (1979), the sound component for Cage’s Empty Words (1974). In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Amacher developed ‘Music for Sound-Joined Rooms’ and ‘Mini Sound Series’, presentational models for how her subsequent work should be ‘staged’. During the early 1980s, Amacher also worked on the materials for a multi-part drama originally imagined for TV and radio simulcast called Intelligent Life. While never fully realised, Intelligent Life reveals much of Amacher’s thinking on music and the advancement of potentialities for future listeners, transcending the social and physiological limitations of music as we know it. In the 1990s, Amacher continued to work internationally, and in the US she was commissioned to compose a large-scale work for the Kronos Quartet, received a Guggenheim Fellowship, performed at Woodstock ’94, and released her first CD on Tzadik (Sound Characters, 1999). In the 2000s, she participated in the Whitney Biennial (2002), joined the faculty of the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College, and released a second CD with Tzadik (Sound Characters vol. 2, 2008). In 2005 she received Ars Electronica Foundation’s Golden Nica, their highest honour. Amacher died in Kingston, NY after sustaining a head injury and a subsequent stroke during the summer of 2009.

Ensemble Contrechamps

The Ensemble Contrechamps is a Geneva-based group of soloists who have specialised for over 40 years in the creation, development and diffusion of 20th- and 21st-century instrumental music. The group’s artistic director is the percussionist Serge Vuille. Since its creation, the ensemble has worked closely with a large number of composers (including Pierre Boulez, Rebecca Saunders, Brian Ferneyhough, Beat Furrer, Klaus Huber, Michael Jarrell and Matthias Pintscher) and also with a new generation of creators (including Rebecca Glover, Fernando Garnero and Paula Matthusen). Recent works have been commissioned by Chiyoko Szlavnics, Jacques Demierre, Bryn Harrison, Christine Sun Kim, Christopher Trapani, Abril Padilla and Massicot. The ensemble has recorded more than twenty albums, and in 2019 and 2020 will release two portrait albums in surround sound, one of Chiyoko Szlavnics and the other of Bryn Harrison, both under the Barcelona-based label Neu Records.

Bill Dietz

Bill Dietz is a composer and writer, born in Arizona, and living in Berlin since 2003. Since 2012, he is co-chair of the Music/Sound Department in Bard College’s Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts. His artistic and theoretical work centers on reception, specifically on listening – its histories, forms, and performance. The work is often presented in festivals, museums,  and academic journals, but also in apartment buildings, magazines, and on public streets. Large-scale works have been realized in sites such as Le Corbusier’s “Cité radieuse” in Marseille, where he worked long-term with inhabitants of the apartment building to articulate social structures with sound, or along the entire length of “Im Stavenhof,” a street in Cologne along which he synchronized all participating inhabitants’ home stereos. From 2007 to 2015 he was the artistic director of the Berlin-based “Ensemble Zwischentöne,” organizing numerous festivals and concert series. In 2014 he co-founded the online magazine Ear │ Wave │ Event with Woody Sullender. He has published two books of listening scores – one on his “Tutorial Diversions” series, meant to be performed at home; and the other, made up of “concert pieces,” based on historical and contemporary audience behavior and staging.

Amy Cimini

Amy Cimini is a violist and musicologist based in San Diego, CA. Her research, teaching and performance engage 20th-century philosophy and political thought with an emphasis on embodiment and ethics in experimental practice. Her musicological writing has appeared in Gamut, Contemporary Music Review, Sound Studies, boundary 2, Twentieth-Century Music and The Opera Quarterly. She is currently Assistant Professor of Music at UC San Diego and is happy to be finishing her first book, titled Wild Sound, about the musical thought of Maryanne Amacher. As a violist, Amy is a founding member of the chamber music collective Till by Turning and the improvising duo Architeuthis Walks on Land with bassoonist and composer Katherine Young. Touching Extremes notes the duo’s ‘manifest improvisational bravura (of the ruthless variety)’. Recently, Amy has enjoyed premiering Anthony Braxton’s operas Trillium R and Trillium J as a member of Braxton’s Tri-Centric Orchestra and touring the US and Europe in support of Architeuthis Walks on Land’s third record, The Surveyors (Carrier 2013).

Lucy Railton


photograph by Camille Blake

Kammer Klang gratefully acknowledges support from Arts Council England, the Hinrichsen Foundation, the RVW Trust and the Swiss Cultural Fund UK. Contrechamps is supported by the City of Geneva and the Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation.