Guggenheim Museum & Metropolitan Opera Co-Present Virtual Commissions from Missy Mazzoli and Nico Muhly

By Logan Martell

The Guggenheim will be presenting two new virtual commissions in their “Works & Process” series, in partnership with the Metropolitan Opera.

“Let Me Freeze Again to Death,” by Missy Mazzoli, is an electronically- composed work which includes samples from Henry Purcell’s “What Power Art Thou,” also known as “The Cold Song,” from “King Arthur.”  Vocals for this work are done by countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, with his original a cappella recording being rearranged and re-explored.

On her work, Mazzoli wrote, “Throughout this process the thought of pandemics past and present was never far away. In 1695 Purcell, then at the height of his career, succumbed to tuberculosis at age 36. In 1983 German countertenor and performance artist Klaus Nomi, whose version of ‘The Cold Song’ is one of the most haunting and memorable out there, died of complications of AIDS at age 39, also at the height of his career. Isolated in my home during the Covid-19 pandemic, I found this aria, its history… all the more powerful.”

Premiere Date: July 12, 2020. 7:30 pm. EDT

“Off the Grid” by Nico Muhly is a collaboration between the composer and pianist Adam Tendler. Muhly describes it as “a cycle of 40 chords, with the last chord being a kind of “resolution” of the first chord. The piano plays almost constant sixteenth notes, with agitated little patterns or sometimes little proto-melodies, whereas the keyboard provides clear articulations of the chord cycle. Each chord is meant to be both a resolution of the previous bar and a strange kind of upbeat to the following.”

Premiere Date: July 13. 7:30 pm. EDT

“Works & Process Artists Virtual Commissions” was launched in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and meant to financially support artists and composers through the funding of new works less than five minutes long. These videos will premiere on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube, after which time they may be viewed on-demand.