Jennifer Walshe & Tony Conrad

The Graham Foundation

Madlener House
4 West Burton Place
Chicago, Illinois 60610

Jennifer Walshe and Tony Conrad perform together as Ma La Pert—using voice, violins, viola, bass, autoharps, auto-tune, keyboard, shells, broken plastic, words, parts of words, stories, chanting, jigs, screaming, shouting, broken drum skins, bells, green furry outfits, breastplates, wire, bird calls and old lady dresses.

The Quietus nails it better than we can blurb:

“Walshe really is a startlingly resourceful singer, barking like a dog one moment, moving into unearthly glossolalia the next, totally persuasive even when singing with a mouthful of popping candy. Conrad grounds her in the most complementary way. His violin, these days, is a blackened, battle-scarred object, trailing extra strings and preparations. When he finally alights on a searing drone, the spirit of 60s dream music flickers into life, inspiring Walshe into a passage of soaring vocal purity. Similarly, Walshe’s surrealist virtuosity inspires a looseness in him. He stamps on a canvas attached to contact mics, she stamps back in her silver glitter shoes.”

Jennifer Walshe (b.1974, Dublin, Ireland) is an Irish composer, vocalist and conceptual artist of multiple virtual identities. Her installations, orchestral-, chamber- and music theater works have been commissioned and presented all over the world. She is also an active improviser, performing regularly with musicians in Europe and the U.S. and in various duos including Ma La Pert with Tony Conrad and The People’s United Telepathic Improvisation Front (PUTIF) with Tomomi Adachi. Separated from each other by thousands of miles, Walshe and Adachi improvise telepathically, synchronizing start and end times, then mixing recordings later.

Since 2007 Walshe has developed Grúpat, a project in which she has assumed twelve different alter egos—all members of the art collective Grúpat—and created compositions, installations, graphic scores, films, photography, sculptures and fashion under these alter egos. In 2009 the collective was invited to put on a retrospective exhibition at the Project Arts Centre in Dublin, this was followed in 2010 by a solo exhibition at the Chelsea Art Museum in New York, and in 2011 her work was exhibited and performed at the ICA in London as part of the Cut & Splice Festival. Recent projects include THMOTES, for sending text scores via Snapchat, announced under the moniker The Milker Corporation, and The Signing, a shadow puppet opera composed in collaboration with Tony Conrad, performed in Toronto in 2014.

Walshe studied composition at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and Northwestern University. In 2000 she won the Kranichsteiner Music Prize during the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik in Darmstadt. Between 2003 and 2005 she was a resident at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart. Walshe has received commissions from Ultraschall, Ars Musica, Wien Modern, Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik, Donaueschinger Musiktagen and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. In 2007 she received a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in New York, and a year later she received the Praetorius Music Prize for composition from Lower Saxony’s Ministry of Science and Culture. She lives in London.

Tony Conrad (b.1940, Concord, N.H.) is an experimental filmmaker, artist, composer and musician who divides his time between Buffalo and Brooklyn. A pioneer of drone-based minimalist music, he was a member of the Theatre of Eternal Music—also known as The Dream Syndicate—which included John Cale, Angus MacLise, La Monte Young, and Marian Zazeela, and has collaborated with numerous filmmakers, artists and musicians such as Jack Smith, Mike Kelley, Tony Oursler and Jim O’Rourke. He played alongside Lou Reed, John Cale and Walter De Maria in the rock group The Primitives, which predated the formation of The Velvet Underground.

In 1966 Conrad made The Flicker, a visually intense film that is a landmark in structural filmmaking. In seeking to “dismantle the authoritarian boundaries of film culture” during 1972–4 he “turned to extended duration as a conceptual armature'” with his Yellow Movies series of paintings. In 1973 he collaborated with the band Faust; their album Outside the Dream Syndicate is a classic of minimal music.

Over the last several decades Conrad has composed numerous audio works for amplified strings using just intonation. Select recordings include Four Violins (1964), Joan of Arc (1968), Fantastic Glissando (1969), Slapping Pythagoras (1995), Outside the Dream Syndicate—Alive (with Faust, 1995) and Early Minimalism Volume One (1997). In recent years, Conrad’s art and music has been informed by his research and writing about traditions in Western music and geometry from Pythagoras to the present.

Presented in partnership with the Graham Foundation