Category: Blogcast

Dispatch: Mary Prescott

In our latest Dispatch, Roulette TV talks with 2020 Roulette Resident composer Mary Prescott about creating during a time of uncertainty.

Mary Prescott is a Thai-American interdisciplinary artist, composer, and pianist who explores the foundations and facets of identity and social conditions through experiential performance. She aims to foster understanding and create pathways for change by voicing emotional and human truths through artistic investigation and dissemination.

Prescott’s output includes several large-scale music-theater works, improvised music, an immersive multimedia chamber opera, a 365-day sound journal, and a film score for Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance, as well as solo and chamber concert works. Prescott is a 2019-21 American Opera Projects Composers and the Voice Fellow, a 2019/20 Resident Artist at Roulette Intermedium (NYC), and a 2020 Lanesboro Arts Artist-in-Residence (MN). She has previously held residencies at Hudson Hall, Areté Venue and Gallery, Avaloch Farm Music Institute and Arts Letters and Numbers. In 2019, she was awarded a National Performance Network Creation and Development Grant, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts; an Artist Initiative Grant and an Arts Tour Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. She has been commissioned by Roulette Intermedium (NYC, Jerome Foundation), Living Arts (Tulsa), Public Functionary (Minneapolis), Shepherdess Duo (Brooklyn Arts Council), Piano Teachers Congress of NY, and Duo Harmonia (MN State Arts Board). As Co-Founder and inaugural Artistic Director of the Lyra Music Festival at Smith College, Prescott was named a New York Foundation for the Arts Emerging Leader. She has served on faculty at the Goppisberger Music Festival in Switzerland, the Louisiana Chamber Music Institute, and is a Teaching Artist with American Composers Orchestra. Prescott holds degrees from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, and Manhattan School of Music.

As part of our Roulette at Home digital initiative, Dispatches is a set of brief communications or small collections of new work from artists, sent directly to our community—a way to remain connected and engaged in a time marked by distance, isolation, upheaval, and change.

Anti-Racism Resources

Updated July 16, 2020

Roulette stands in solidarity with the protesters and our staff, artists, audiences, and community to denounce racism, white supremacy and complacency, and police brutality. We commit to serve, elevate, and amplify Black voices, work, and stories not only as a fundamental aspect of our ongoing mission but in this critical moment and beyond. We recognize the importance of Black voices in how they have shaped our history, and how they will shape our future.

To take immediate action to fight for Breonna Taylor, please visit

For centralized infomation and updates on protests in NYC follow @justiceforgeorgenyc on Instagram or visit

Anti-Racism Resources
Anti-racism Guide

We encourage you to donate to these and other organizations doing important work during this time:

The Okra Project
Marsha P. Johnson Institute
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
Campaign Zero
Donate to Bail Funds
Reclaim the Block
Black Visions Collective

Dispatch: David First

Roulette TV catches up with composer David First. First discusses his work Choir Practice, his ensemble The Western Enisphere, and distance learning and teaching in the time of COVID-19.

DAVID FIRST has always been fascinated by opposites and extremes. At 20 he played guitar with renowned avant-jazz pianist Cecil Taylor in a legendary Carnegie Hall concert. Two years after that he was creating electronic music at Princeton University (recently released on Dais records) and leading a Mummerʼs String Band in Philadelphia parades. He has played in raucous drunken bar bands, semi-legal DIY basements and in pin-drop quiet concert halls with classical ensembles. As a composer First has created everything from finely crafted pop songs to long, severely minimalist droneworks. His opera, The Manhattan Book of the Dead, was staged at LaMama’s Annex Theater (NYC) in 1995 and in Potsdam, Germany in 1996. His 2011 song and video, We Are (with vocals by TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone), was released to much acclaim in the Occupy Movement and was officially released on the compilation Occupy This Album which also featured tracks by Patti Smith, Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Yo La Tengo, Yoko Ono a.o. First’s performances often find him sitting trance-like without seeming to move a muscle, unless he is playing with his psychedelic punk band, Notekillers, at which time he is a whirling blur of hyperactive energy. He has been called “a fascinating artist with a singular technique” in the NYTimes, and “a bizarre cross between Hendrix and La Monte Young” in the Village Voice. A 45 single released in 1980, The Zipper, by Notekillers, was cited by Sonic Youthʼs Thurston Moore as one of the songs he played for the rest of the band when they were starting out. Moore called it a “mind-blowing instrumental single” in the British rock magazine Mojo and “a big influence” in the Philadelphia Inquirer. He has had music released on Ecstatic Peace, Prophase, Phill Niblock’s XI, Dais, Razor and Tie, Ants, Jajaguar, CRI, Homestead, and OODiscs. Recent projects include SWATi (Spherical Waveform Audio Trance Induction) – a collaboration with acupuncturist Isobeau Trybula at Worksong Chinese Medicine in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. SWATi is an outgrowth of his Operation:Kracpot which was an internet collaboration with geophysicist Dr. Davis Sentman of the University of Alaska (Fairbanks). Both involve the sonification of the atmospheric phenomena known as the Schumann Resonances and human brainwaves. Other projects include The Western Enisphere an audio/visual exploration of just intonation psycho-phenomena, and the AM Radio Band, which incorporates the repurposing of vintage signal generators, audio oscillators and transistor radios (a recording of which will have a spring release on Robert & Leopold). He is also the proprietor of Dave’s Waves – A Sonic Restaurant installation that has been presented in Lier, Belgium (2002), Berlin (as part of Sonambiente in 2006), Leeuwarden, the Netherlands (2013), Moscow (2018), and Brooklyn (2018-19). First was the recent recipient of the Herb Alpert/Ragdale Award for Music Composition for 2019 and a 2019 NYFA/NYSCA Fellowship. He has also received a Grant to Artists from the Foundation of Contemporary Arts, as well as grants and commissions from the NEA, the Copland Foundation, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust and the Meet the Composer Commissioning USA program. He has written articles for New Music Box and Leonardo Music Journal, receiving the Leonardo Award for Excellence Honorable Mention for his article, The Music of the Sphere: An Investigation into Asymptotic Harmonics, Brainwave Entrainment, and the Earth as a Giant Bell.

As part of our Roulette at Home digital initiative, Dispatches is a set of brief communications or small collections of new work from artists, sent directly to our community—a way to remain connected and engaged in a time marked by distance and isolation caused by COVID-19.

Dispatch: Jaap Blonk

Dutch avant-garde composer and performance artist Jaap Blonk performs an iteration of a recent piece at home in the Netherlands. His absurd multimedia work YappiScope with live visual accompaniment was originally included in Roulette’s 2020 spring season and has been postponed. Blonk’s latest recordings can be heard here and here.

As a vocalist, the self-taught Dutch composer, performer, and sound poet Jaap Blonk is unique for his powerful stage presence and keen grasp of structure, even in free improvisation. He has performed around the world, on all continents. With the use of live electronics, and sometimes projection of visuals, the scope and range of his concerts has acquired a considerable extension. Blonk has been performing since the early 70s and has worked with The Ex, Mats Gustafsson, Joan La Barbara, Michael Zerang, John Tchicai, Tristan Honsinger and many others. At the start, Blonk’s unfinished studies in mathematics and musicology mainly created a penchant for activities in a Dada vein, as did several unsuccessful jobs in offices and other well-organized systems. In the last decade, his renewed interest in mathematics made him start a research of the possibilities of algorithmic composition for the creation of music, visual animation, and poetry.

As part of our Roulette at Home digital initiative, Dispatches is a set of brief communications or small collections of new work from artists, sent directly to our community—a way to remain connected and engaged in a time marked by distance and isolation caused by COVID-19.

Highlight: Pulitzer-winning Roulette Artist Anthony Davis

Seth Colter Walls of The New York Times speaks to Pulitzer-winning artist Anthony Davis and reflects on his experience attending a Roulette performance of improvisations of Davis’s Pulitzer award-winning opera, The Central Park Five. The article contains a recording of the performance, which he describes: “it is a joy to hear in this performance at Roulette how blissfully unencumbered Davis sounds when readapting his own music.”

Anthony Davis, who won a Pulitzer Prize this month for his opera “The Central Park Five,” at Roulette in December 2018. Photo: Joe Carrotta for The New York Times

On May 4, when the composer and pianist Anthony Davis won a Pulitzer Prize for his opera “The Central Park Five,” I rejoiced, as a fan of his work. (The award should augur well for new productions, after lockdowns are lifted.) I also recalled a 2018 concert presented by the Interpretations series at Roulette in Brooklyn. Toward the end of that show, a quartet led by Davis improvised on material from his opera; speaking from the piano, Davis described the enduring influence of Charles Mingus, an artist whose presence could be keenly felt during what followed.

Earlier this month, I spoke with Davis on the phone. “I develop a lot of musical material, doing things for my small ensembles, or piano music,” he said. “I might incorporate it into an opera,” he added, saying that the reverse is true, as well: “I think it’s a philosophical thing for me. Sometimes musical themes have their own identity that travels from piece to piece. In a way they’re signifiers for the connection of the music to the past.”

That approach doesn’t just connect Davis’s operas to his other writing. It also connects “The Central Park Five” to Duke Ellington (particularly when the word “Harlem” enters the libretto). Before the Central Park Five are arrested, there is also a boisterous passage that skates close to Parliament’s “Give Up the Funk.” One aspect of the opera’s genius resides in the way Davis gradually curtails this initial breadth of musical reference, as liberty is curtailed for his characters. Though, outside the context of that narrative, it is a joy to hear in this performance at Roulette how blissfully unencumbered Davis sounds when readapting his own music.

This article appeared in The New York Times on May 14, 2020: Music, Theater and More to Experience at Home This Weekend

Dispatch: Simon Hanes

Simon Hanes from Roulette Intermedium on Vimeo.

Roulette TV catches up with composer Simon Hanes, whose performance was originally scheduled for June, via video chat. Hanes talks about working virtually and finding new ways to make art that transfers the impression of proximity with collaborators that are apart.

Tredici Bacci — a 14-piece group of musicians all under the age of 30 — sounds, to the thoughtful listener, like a celebration. A celebration not of a genre of music, but rather of an era, and, more specifically, the aspects of an era which perhaps have been glossed over by conventional history. To that end, Tredici Bacci celebrates the strange, somewhat seedy, schmaltzy and smooth aspects of 1960s-70s popular culture. The songs are cries in honor to the many artifacts which seem now to be the strange leavings of a recently liberated nation — the sensuous oddities leftover from an entirely different world.

Over the last few years, young musician and composer Simon Hanes has worked tirelessly to channel his deep love and infatuation with 1960s / 1970s soundtrack music into his own personal vision and homage to the style through dedicated songwriting, and the integration of the totality of his musical influences. After graduating from New England Conservatory and spending time playing bass in the then-Boston-based No(ise) Wave unit Guerilla Toss, Hanes adopted the “Luxardo” persona as an arranger, composer, conductor, and guitarist, and went on to assemble a band of epic orchestral proportions. Consisting of close friends and fellow classically-trained musicians, the resulting band is the ambitiously sizable 14-piece Tredici Bacci. The band’s first full-length album, Amore Per Tutti, was released by NNA Tapes in November 2016.

As part of our Roulette at Home digital initiative, Dispatches is a set of brief communications or small collections of new work from artists, sent directly to our community—a way to remain connected and engaged in a time marked by distance and isolation caused by COVID-19.

Dispatch: Muyassar Kurdi

Muyassar Kurdi is a New York City-based interdisciplinary artist working across sound, performance, movement, visual arts, and film. Kurdi’s 2020 Roulette Commission Vast Geographiesa performance with bassist Luke Stewart based in ritual exploring ecology, movement in stillness, walking, embodiment, and sound as liquid architecture—originally set for April 22, 2020 has been postponed due to the pandemic.

Kurdi shares a series of paintings done in the midst of total isolation in NYC since mid-March. Kurdi notes, “I feel painting has been my main activity during quarantine because it’s meditative and deepens my exploration in color. Color has been really healing.”

All painting from April 2020. 35mm film photo by Maren Celeste.

As part of our Roulette at Home digital initiative, Dispatches is set of brief communications or small collections of new work from artists, sent directly to our community—a way to remain connected and engaged in a time marked by distance and isolation.






Roulette at Home

As we adapt to this challenging and unparalleled moment presented by COVID-19, our greatest priority is to keep everyone safe and healthy. As a result, Roulette has suspended its live programming for the time being. We hope to resume our Spring Season and welcome you back to our venue in mid-May (or as soon as officials and health experts advise that it is safe to gather). Read our official statement here.

In the meantime, we are excited to introduce Roulette at Home — a way for us to stay connected through special digital content in our newsletters and social media channels. We hope you will join us in the discovery and exploration of concert recordings, video, podcasts, Roulette TV, archival photographs, writing, and interviews from Roulette’s 40-year history delivered to you at a social distance.

We believe in the importance of art in difficult times and we remain committed to supporting and nourishing our artists and community. We will see you online, and hopefully in-person very soon.

Subscribe to our Mailing List to keep in touch!


Roulette has suspended its live programs

In an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and keep our artists, staff, and larger community safe and healthy, Roulette has suspended live programming for the time being. We hope to resume programming as soon as officials and health experts advise that it is safe to gather. 

We will continue to stay alert to information and guidelines offered by city, state, and federal officials, as well as the Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and we will update this space as any new developments affect our operational decisions. 

If you purchased tickets to a Roulette performance originally scheduled between March 13 and June 30, please contact us at for an exchange or refund. Alternatively, if you are in a position to convert your ticket purchase into a tax-deductible donation or make a tax-deductible gift to Roulette, please know that your support would mean so much to us and the community of artists that we serve. 

We believe in the importance of art in difficult times and we remain committed to supporting and nourishing our artists and community. While live programming is suspended, we invite you to subscribe to Roulette’s newsletter for special digital content drawing on our archive, community news and resources, and the most up to date information on our programming.

We wish you all good health!


Our 2020 Van Lier Fellows

Roulette is proud to present our 2020 Van Lier Fellows: composer and audio technologist Anastasia Clarke and composer, musician, and multidisciplinary artist Anjna Swaminathan.

A longtime partnership with the Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund of the New York Community Trust has enabled Roulette to offer year-long fellowships to a number of outstanding young artists to create, rehearse, experiment, and investigate new directions in their craft. Past Roulette Van Lier Fellows include Matthew Welch, Matana Roberts, Tyshawn Sorey, Ha Yang Kim, Paula Matthusen, Darius Jones, Maria Chavez, Mary Halvorson, Brandon Lopez, and Kelly Moran.

Anastasia Clarke is a New York-based composer, performer, and audio technologist working in live embodied electronic music performance. Her sprawling custom instrument-interfaces and deliberately confusing sound performing systems make theatre out of human-instrument interaction; therapy out of earnest sound exploration; and jokes out of the impossibility of ever understanding exactly what is going on. In addition to custom electronics, monologues, movement, and the destruction and repurposing of sound-generating materials figure heavily into Anastasia’s whimsical sonic textures, guiding performers and audiences into complex plays of attention without any hand-holding.

Clarke’s work is performed in galleries, concert halls, DIY venues and unsuspecting community spaces across the United States. Clarke has also engaged audiences through speaking and pedagogy, most recently at Cycling ’74’s Expo ’74, NIME 2018, The School for Poetic Computation, and various colleges and universities.  Clarke earned an MFA in Electronic Music and Recording Media from Mills College in 2018, and has received support for subsequent work and research from the Queens Arts Fund, EMS (Stockholm), CCRMA, and a 2020 Van Lier Fellowship at Roulette.

Anjna Swaminathan is a queer multidisciplinary artist, composer, violinist, vocalist, writer, theatre artist, educator, and dramaturg. As an artist with a passion for sociopolitical work, community building, and critical consciousness, Swaminathan’s artistic practice is an extension of her activist spirit. Informed by her rigorous training in the Carnatic and Hindustani music traditions of India, Anjna creates in New York’s vibrant creative music and improvisatory scene, in hybrid classical compositional work, and in her own multidisciplinary projects. Since 2018, Anjna has been under the compositional mentorship of Gabriela Lena Frank and continues her training in Hindustani music with Samarth Nagarkar. Swaminathan holds a BA in Theatre from the University of Maryland, College Park.