Performance Archive


Performance recording


Questions of Practice

Composer Jace Clayton and Barnes Executive Director and President Thom Collins on the Making of "Room 21". Video courtesy of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Room 21 - Notes on Performance

Room 21 was performed live at The Barnes Foundation September 9, 2016. This is an archive of the performance.

Throughout the performance Eric Rath recites the contents of the collection’s Room 21. His silhouette can be seen in the second floor office above the stage. The Room 21 catalog list includes everything from each frame and metal hinge to the paintings and sculptures.

  1. 1. Ravel String Quartet, 1st movement

    For this introductory piece I asked the Prometheus Chamber Orchestra to select a song from Dr. Barnes’ vinyl collection that they’d like to arrange and perform.

  2. 2. Bourgeois Blues

    Arnold de Boer (Zea) did this new arrangement and lyrical adaptation of the Leadbelly blues classic Bourgeois Blues, a class-conscious stomper that would not have been out of place in the Barnes record crates. Arnold’s flowing guitar has boomeranged back to Africa; the blues does nothing if not move.

  3. 3. Luk de Triedden (Pull the Wires from the Wall)

    Days after the Brexit announcement I heard Arnold perform a version of this song by Scottish band The Delgados. He had translated the lyrics into Frisian. It was wonderfully apt. Emily Manzo and Benjamin Lee (Baby Copperhead) built Arnold’s stripped down version back up.

  4. 4. Unwritten

    For the fourth section I asked musicians Gezachew Habtemariam and Arnold de Boer – who had not previously met – to improvise together.

  5. 5. Sunken Cathedral

    Emily Manzo plays a Rhodes keyboard rendition of Debussy’s Sunken Cathedral. (Prelude 10 from Book 1), a song she selected from the Barnes record collection.

  6. 6. Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray

    This old Black spiritual has long been a favorite of mine, and finding a recording of it by the Utica Institute Jubilee Singers in the collection convinced me to stage a version for Room 21. Among other things the lyrics dramatize the tension – or blatant disregard – between sacred and secular culture that is present throughout Barnes’ art-pairings. The Modigliani nude opposite a crucifixion painting in Room 21 offers a particularly striking example of this.

  7. 7. ዘለሰኛ

    Gezachew brought this tune to the table, an Ethiopian spiritual pronounced Zelesegna.

  8. 8. Medallion

    Benjamin Lee (Baby Copperhead) wrote this banjo-led piece for an ensemble I started called Nettle; Brent Arnold, Lindsay Cuff, and I added some additional elements to his lead.

  9. 9. I Build My Own Town

    This is a song from Arnold’s solo project Zea.

  10. 10. አበባአየሆሽ

    A celebratory song. Ethiopia uses its own calendar system, and New Year’s Day falls on September 11th . The holiday is called Enkutatash, and አበባአየሆሽ (Eyoha Abebaye) forms part of the Enkutatash celebration. The chorus says: The seasons have changed / new flowers in bloom

— Jace Clayton



  • gzrc2016062_41

    Backstage Pre-performance

  • crowd-rc2016062_104

    Audience pre-concert

  • eric-rc2016062_562

    Voice actor Eric Rath

  • em-ben-rc2016062_470

    Ben 'Baby Copperhead' Lee & Emily Manzo

  • prometheus-rc2016062_87

    Prometheus Chamber Orchestra

  • Prometheus


  • rc2016062_280
  • Gezachew Habtemarium

    Gezachew Habtemarium

  • gex-arnold-rc2016062_565
  • Arnold de Boer

    Arnold de Boer

  • Room 21 - painting detail by Rocio Salceda

    painting detail by fashion designer Rocio Salceda.

  • Room 21 - full performance view

    Full performance view

  • An album of recorded music in Dr. Barnes’s collection, 1925-1928. Sound Recording Collection, Barnes Foundation Archives.