What piece have you chosen?
Stay On It by Julius Eastman.
What’s special about this piece for you?
As Mary Jane Leach has documented, Julius Eastman led a particularly tragic life despite remarkable abilities as both a composer and performer (notable for his recording of Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King). Stay On It seems to encapsulate his creative personality and minimalist aesthetic with a blend of optimistic gregariousness and darker melancholia. To me it seems to generate an incredible sense of spontaneity and vitality, despite its broad emotional range.
What should we listen out for?
I particularly enjoy the fragmentary, messy, almost violent transitions between sections. In contrast to the smooth segues of Music for 18 Musicians or the abrupt cuts of Music in 12 Parts different sections in this piece seem to bleed into each other and overlap. I also find the bleak return of the opening music around 17’ and the gradual decay that follows particularly beautiful, and it sets up the hopeful (?) conclusion so fantastically.