Born in 1940, composer Julius Eastman broke with convention time and time again. A gay African-American, he was not afraid to speak of his roots and his sexuality. At the same time, integrity and a clear, honest acknowledgement of his identity were at the heart of Eastman’s idealistic message. His music may best be filed under minimalism, even if he is strikingly different to composers such as Philip Glass or Steve Reich.
To this day, Eastman’s music has lost none of its unorthodoxy, its power, or its message, and to celebrate it, four pianists – Patricia Martin, Mirela Zhulali, Benedikt ter Braak, and Kai Schumacher – got together to perform “Evil Nigger” and “Gay Guerilla” on four pianos at the Moers Festival on 31 May 2020. The recording of this concert was released as an album on the Neue Meister label. It is a modern play of sound and an homage to a composer whose works were minimal in form but maximal in effect, who had a life of minimal possessions combined with outrageous behaviour.