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Elysium Furnace Works Kicks Off 2023 Season With Elliott Sharp & Donald Sturge Anthony McKenzie—Saturday, March 25 In Poughkeepsie, NY


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Elysium Furnace Works announces the initial slate of performances for our 2023 season in the Hudson Valley, kicking off with a performance by the incendiary duo of multi-instrumentalist Elliott Sharp and drummer/percussionist Donald Sturge Anthony McKenzie II on Saturday, March 25 at 8 PM.
"One of the godfathers of the Downtown New York music scene, guitarist-composer Elliott Sharp has been conceiving experimental works for a variety of small and large ensembles over the past 40 years... he remains as restlessly creative as ever, continuing to churn out provocative new projects with remarkable regularity." —Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes

“Don McKenzie is a powerhouse and a master of deep-pocket hip hop, funk, jazz and rock” —Vernon Reid, Guitarist

Elysium Furnace Works is excited to announce the initial slate of performances for our 2023 season in the Hudson Valley. Kicking off our calendar this year will be a performance by the incendiary duo of multi-instrumentalist Elliott Sharp and drummer/percussionist Donald Sturge Anthony McKenzie II.

Sharp, one of the pioneers of the NYC-based Downtown music scene, is a virtuoso guitarist, bassist, reed player, composer, improvisor, instrument builder and musical theorist of the highest order. Joined by the phenomenally talented and accomplished McKenzie, whose ferociously powerful contributions to multiple musical genres has virtually no parallel, this performance is certain to blaze intense, uncanny new musical directions.

Sharp and McKenzie will perform in the VBI Theatre of Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center, located at 12 Vassar St. in Poughkeepsie, NY, on Saturday, March 25 at 8 PM. Tickets are $20 in advance and $30 at the door the evening of the performance—advance tickets are on sale here. (PLEASE NOTE: advance ticket sales end at midnight the night before the concert).

Biographies of Sharp and McKenzie follow below. Since 2017, Elysium Furnace Works has embraced a fiercely independent, eclectic, multicultural diversity, bringing exceptional, acclaimed, uncompromising artists from a wide array of non-commercial idioms to the Hudson Valley, producing events that rage from psychedelic guitars to modern classical composers, experimental electronic music to hardcore punk grooves, noise bands to renowned improvisers from around the world performing within and well beyond genre, even book release celebrations and documentary screenings. EFW looks forward to continuing this unique tradition with our new season of boundary-pushing artists this year.

Our 2023 calendar of events includes:

April 15: Angelica Sanchez (@ St. Andrew's & St. Luke's Church in Beacon, NY)—the celebrated pianist and Bard professor makes her Beacon debut in this solo piano concert;

May 20: Hot Wrk Ensemble (@ St. Andrew's & St. Luke's Church in Beacon, NY)—Beaconites J Brooks Marcus, Lois Hicks-Wozniak and Brad Hubbard perform vigorously engaging modern chamber music in their first performance in their hometown (and, yes: the trio's name is “Hot Wrk (sic) Ensemble");

June 17: Sarah Bernstein / Kid Millions (@ CHAC)—Violinist Bernstein and drummer Millions (Oneida, Man Forever) unleash ecstatic textures and unnervingly existential poetry at once fearless and fearsome in celebration of their new live recording;

September 23: exclusiveOr (@ CHAC)—this duo featuring the director of the CHIME (Chicago Integrated Media Experimental Studio) Studio at the University of Chicago, laptop artist Sam Pluta, and director of both Electronic Music and the Princeton Laptop Orchestra at Princeton University, analog synthethist Jeff Snyder, creates real-time electronic sound architectures which fluidly warp space-time, leaving far behind any conventional definition of “music.”

December 16: Joe Fiedler (@ CHAC)—this solo performance by the consummate trombonist/composer/arranger is sure to be startling and deliriously engaging, closing our 2023 season on a multiphonically high note.

Stay tuned for more EFW performances to be announced for the fall and winter of 2023.

About Elliott Sharp

Elliott Sharp is an American contemporary classical composer, multi-instrumentalist, and performer.

A central figure in the avant-garde and experimental music scene in New York City since the late 1970s, Sharp has released over eighty-five recordings ranging from contemporary classical, avant-garde, free improvisation, jazz, experimental, and orchestral music to noise, no wave, and electronic music. He pioneered the use of personal computers in live performance with his Virtual Stance project of the 1980s. He has used algorithms and fibonacci numbers in experimental composition since the 1970s. He has cited literature as an inspiration for his music and often favors improvisation.He is an inveterate performer, playing mainly guitar, saxophone and bass clarinet. Sharp has led many ensembles over the years, including the blues-oriented Terraplane and Orchestra Carbon.

Sharp was classically trained in piano from an early age, taking up clarinet and guitar as a teen. He attended Cornell University from 1969 to 1971, studying anthropology, music, and electronics. He completed his B.A. degree at Bard College in 1973, where he studied composition with Benjamin Boretz and Elie Yarden; jazz composition, improvisation, and ethnomusicology with trombonist Roswell Rudd; and physics and electronics with Burton Brody. In 1977 he received an M.A. from the University at Buffalo, where he studied composition with Morton Feldman and Lejaren Hiller, and ethnomusicology with Charles Keil.

From the late 1970s, Sharp established himself in New York's music scene. His compositions have been performed by the hr-Sinfonieorchester, the Ensemble Modern, Continuum, the Orchestra of the SEM Ensemble, Kronos Quartet, the FLUX Quartet, Zeitkratzer, the Soldier String Quartet, the JACK Quartet, and Grammy-winning violinist Hilary Hahn. His work has been featured at festivals worldwide, including the 2008 New Music Stockholm festival, the 2007 Hessischer Rundfunk Klangbiennale, and the Venice Biennale 2003 and 2006. He releases music under his own label (zOaR music) as well as punk label SST and downtown music labels such as Knitting Factory records and John Zorn's Tzadik label. Guitar Player magazine's 30th anniversary issue included Sharp among their list of “The Dirty Thirty – Pioneers and Trailblazers".

He has collaborated regularly with many people, including Christian Marclay, Nels Cline, Bobby Previte, Z'EV, Joey Baron, David Torn, Eric Mingus, Zeena Parkins, Vernon Reid, and Frances-Marie Uitti, as well as qawaali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, blues legend Hubert Sumlin, actor/writer Eric Bogosian, jazz greats Jack DeJohnette and Sonny Sharrock, pop singer Debbie Harry, and Bachir Attar, leader of the Master Musicians of Jajouka. He was curator of the monumental sound-art exhibition Volume: Bed of Sound for MoMA PS1, which featured the works of 54 artists including Vito Acconci, Tod Dockstader, John Duncan, Walter Murch, Muhal Richard Abrams, Laurie Anderson, Chris & Cosey, Survival Research Laboratories, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sonic Youth, and Butch Morris. He also curates the State of the Union CD compilations of one-minute tracks by experimental musicians, and produces records for a wide variety of artists. Sharp describes himself as a lifelong “science geek" having modified and created musical instruments since his teen years, and frequently borrowing terms from science and technology for his compositions.

He has composed scores for feature films and documentaries; created music and sound-design for The Sundance Channel, MTV and Bravo networks; and has presented numerous sound installations in art galleries and museums.

Sharp received the 2015 Berlin Prize in Musical Composition, spending six months as a Fellow-in-Residence at the American Academy in Berlin. He was a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, a 2014 Fellow at Parson's Center for Transformative Media, and is the subject of Bert Shapiro's documentary Elliott Sharp: Doing the Don't, for Pheasant Eye Film. He was a 2009 Master Artist-in-Residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and a 2010 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in music. Sharp received a 2003 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award.

In March 2011, Sharp's 60th birthday was celebrated with a weekend of all-star concert events entitled “E#@60", hosted by Brooklyn's ISSUE Project Room. In March 2021, Sharp's 70th birthday was celebrated with a series of concert events entitled “E#@70", presented by Brooklyn's Roulette.

He is the subject of a new documentary “Doing The Don't" by filmmaker Bert Shapiro.

About Donald Sturge Anthony McKenzie II

Donald Sturge Anthony McKenzie II is an American musician and composer from New York City. This world—class drummer and highly skilled beat-smith has been called a “powerhouse” and a “master of deep-pocket hip hop, funk, jazz and rock.” According to Vernon Reid (Living Colour), McKenzie is among the best in the industry.

McKenzie began his musical training at the age of ten and was quickly recognized for his virtuosic talent and finesse. Under the tutelage of Everett Collins (Isley Brothers) and world-renowned drumming teacher, Dom Famularo, McKenzie has steadily evolved into a truly great musician with a firm basis in theory.

McKenzie has travelled extensively throughout Europe, North America, Australia, South America and Africa, playing sold out shows at the finest venues in Paris, London, Amsterdam, Carthage, São Paulo and New York among many others.

His illustrious career has led him to tour and record with an impressive list of avant—garde artists such as multi-instrumentalist Elliott Sharp, celebrated American guitarist Marc Ribot, and Grammy nominated jazz composer, Roswell Rudd, on BBC recordings in the MALIcool project. McKenzie’s work in hip hop and R&B includes backing prolific artists such as Pharoahe Monch, P.Diddy, Gravediggaz, New Kingdom, DJ Spinna, Mr. Complex, Martin Luther, Cody ChesnuTT, Polyrhythm Addicts and R&B legends Sweetback and The Persuaders. McKenzie also serves as musical director for Kat DeLuna, and teaches master classes at the Brooklyn Music School when he’s not touring the globe.

Don McKenzie is best known however, for his longstanding tenure with Vernon Reid as a member of the band Masque. An accomplished composer who is constantly seeking to push boundaries, his composition, Kizzy, which has been called “dreamy”, “atmospheric” and “powerfully evocative”, is featured on Masque’s third album “Other True Self.”

As a bandleader McKenzie is skillful and generous, never overplaying but instead leading with agility and polished sophistication while creating a solid foundation for other musicians to express themselves creatively. Elliott Sharp explains that his firm sense of pocket, “hard hitting asymmetrical jazz flavors and light-fingered sonic abstractions” are what make McKenzie truly great. However, in spite of his accolades, McKenzie’s humility is clearly reflected in his philosophy,

“A good drummer needs to be the foundation for the melodic and harmonic instruments while leading the way. It’s a dichotomy but it’s a necessary one... the older I get the less I want to lead and the more I want to support.” It is exactly this remarkable prowess and matching subtlety that have won him the respect and admiration of famed artists such as friend and mentor, iconic jazz composer Cecil Taylor. And it is these qualities which have led McKenzie to become one of the most highly sought after musicians in the industry.

About Elysium Furnace Works

Elysium Furnace Works is a cooperative project co-led by Mike Faloon and James Keepnews. EFW seeks to present the work of vanguard artists in settings as dedicated and uncompromising as the art itself, focusing primarily although not exclusively on live music performances in and around New York's vibrant Hudson Valley. Follow us on Facebook — http://www.facebook.com/elysiumfurnaceworks — and on Instagram @elysiumfurnaceworks.

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