Rhys Chatham is a Paris-based and Manhattan-born composer, guitarist, and trumpet player, known internationally for his seminal contributions to no-wave, post-punk, noise, contemporary composition, and avant-garde music of all varieties. He’s altered the DNA of rock, creating a new strain of music, by fusing the overtone-drenched minimalism of the 60’s composers with the relentless, elemental fury of The Ramones, the textural intricacies of the avant-garde and the visceral punch of electric guitar-slinging punk rock.
Chatham began his musical career as La Monte Young’s piano tuner, later performing in the minimalist guru’s ensemble, The Theatre of Eternal Music, as well as its offshoot, Tony Conrad’s The Dream Syndicate. In 1971, Chatham founded the music program at The Kitchen and served as its music director for the better part of the next decade. During his tenure, he worked with Phillip Glass, Arthur Russell, Robert Fripp, Steve Reich, Arto Lindsay, Meredith Monk, Pauline Oliveros, and other giants of modern music. With his 1977 composition Guitar Trio, he became the first composer to make use of multiple electric guitars in special tunings, merging experimental sects of contemporary composition and rock music. Chatham continued this pursuit over the next decade, culminating in 1989 with An Angel Moves Too Fast to See, his first symphony for an orchestra of 100 electric guitars. He has since composed three other works for large guitar orchestra, A Crimson Grail (indoor version) in 2005 (written for 400 guitars), A Secret Rose in 2008 (written for 100 guitars), and finally, A Crimson Grail (outdoor version) in 2009 (written for 200 electric guitars and 16 electric basses).
After nearly five decades of rigorous performance and composition activities, Chatham makes his Maine debut at SPACE Gallery. He’ll perform one set of solo pieces and another with his trio, featuring bassist Tim Dahl (Child Abuse, Lydia Lunch) and drummer Kevin Shea (Talibam!, Storm & Stress, Mostly Other People Do the Killing).