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Breath Beneath

Hybridizing interactive technologies with new works by composers Dan Trueman and Julia Wolfe + filmmakers Mark DeChiazza and Bill Morrison

The Latest Update

Breath Beneath videos

Posted on May 17, 2019 by PRISM Quartet, Inc.

We’re thrilled to share two videos from our September 2017 performance in Philadelphia at Drexel University’s URBN Annex: Cha by Julia Wolfe and Bill Morrison, and Waveguide Model I by Dan Trueman and Mark DeChiazza. There’s also a clip of PRISM’s Matt Levy testing out Mark and Dan’s interactive system. Enjoy!

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Breath Beneath Press Release

Posted on August 17, 2017 by PRISM Quartet, Inc.

Read the Breath Beneath press release at http://tinyurl.com/breathbeneath

And check out “Hymn” by Kati Agocs with video by Eli Stine, which will be featured on the program.

Concert Details

Posted on August 13, 2017 by PRISM Quartet, Inc.

We’re happy to announce complete concert details for both the Philly and NYC presentations of Breath Beneath on Sept 14 at Drexel University and Sept 15 at 3-Legged Dog..Both venues are co-presenting the program, and the Philly program is being presented under the umbrella of the Fringe Festival.

Check out Breath Beneath audio and video, program info and notes, ticket info, and more at www.prismquartet.com/concerts/breath-beneath


PRISM will embark on a new commissioning project that introduces first-time partnerships with three groundbreaking artists. Breath Beneath is an interdisciplinary project that merges the PRISM Quartet’s performance practice with interactive video, exploring how saxophonists’ physical gestures and sound can be used to generate images—and how those images might, in turn, shape musical interpretation. PRISM will commission two works to be premiered in Philadelphia and New York City in September 2017:

1) Dan Trueman—composer, fiddler, electronic musician, and co-founder of the Princeton Laptop Orchestra—will compose and program an interactive musical work. Trueman will collaborate with filmmaker Mark DeChiazza to generate (in DeChiazza’s words) “a responsive system of projected imagery that will function in a manner analogous to breath.” DeChiazza explains: “I want to explore a territory outside commonly practiced modes of interactivity between sound and visual media that map music’s pitch or volume to determine the density, speed, and/or rhythm of visual events. To look for an apparent cause and effect logic that is not: louder or higher equals more or bigger.”

Trueman notes that “performance technologies are most compelling when there is an element of feedback between performers and technology, each influencing the other, making the technologies crucial to how the music is performed and experienced by the players, giving them real and meaningful agency.” Trueman envisions creating a musical piece in which “sound and video work at cross-purposes, moving ideas about breath and time beyond body and machine.” PRISM will perform Trueman’s commission within “a real-time interactive system that could expressively shape and animate a breathing visual world,” created jointly by Trueman and DeChiazza.

2) Video artist Bill Morrison will use infrared cameras and air sensors to visualize breath passing through saxophones by having PRISM “blow” MIDI-triggered video images onto a scrim hung in front of the quartet. Images will be generated by the Quartet performing Julia Wolfe’s “Cha.” The piece was inspired by Wolfe’s memories of dancing with her late father. Wolfe describes it as “a play on Latin dance tune fragments, bass lines and vocal trills made messy with cross rhythms and bursts of song.” Wolfe originally envisioned “Cha” (commissioned and premiered by PRISM in 2015) as a collaboration with Morrison; Breath Beneath is our first opportunity to present “Cha” as she imagined it.

Breath Beneath represents a new direction in PRISM’s curatorial, collaborative, and artistic practices. It marks PRISM’s first time working with videographers and developing works which hybridize different artistic disciplines with interactive technology.

The program will also include early saxophone works by Kati Agócs and Jacob TV that use video projection in a traditional (non-interactive) manner, in order to show the evolution of technology. The Philadelphia performance will include a post-concert Q+A session moderated by Victoria Brooks, curator of time-based visual arts at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (Troy, NY).

Start and End Dates



Philadelphia and New York City, New York

3 updates
Last update on May 17, 2019

Associated Events

September 15, 2017 | New York City, NY
September 14, 2017 | Philadelphia, PA
Archived Events

Project Created By

NYC and Philly
Intriguing programs of great beauty and breadth have distinguished the PRISM Quartet as one of America’s foremost chamber ensembles. PRISM seeks to place the saxophone in unexpected contexts, chart fresh musical territory, and to challenge, inspire, and move audiences. “A bold ensemble that set the standard for contemporary-classical saxophone quartets” (The New York Times), PRISM was…

In Collaboration With

Director/video artist
Brooklyn, New York


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