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The Tough Questions

Posted January 25, 2022

 Julius Eastman, by Marbeth

Despite Julius Eastman’s early success as a composer and performer, a confluence of tragic circumstances led to his becoming isolated and unhoused, not ever having had the chance to hear his only symphony performed by the time he died at age 49. Jaap van Zweden will conduct the Philharmonic’s first performances of the work (Symphony No. II — The Faithful Friend: The Lover Friend’s Love for the Beloved) on February 3 and 5, in the second week of orchestral performances in Authentic Selves: The Beauty Within.

Before that, on Friday, January 28, at 1:45 p.m. ET, Unjust Malaise: Julius Eastman and a Broken Mental Health System delves into the avant-garde composer’s life and the ways in which society ostracizes, even criminalizes, behavior deemed to be deviant. The conversation will be streamed live on the Philharmonic’s Facebook page.

The event — the third installment of The Unanswered Questions, the new series presented by the NY Phil and John Jay College of Criminal Justice exploring complex societal topics raised by the Orchestra’s programming — features composer, music historian, and conductor Luciano Chessa; Leah Goodridge, Esq., managing attorney for housing policy at Mobilization for Justice; poet R. Nemo Hill; and composer-performer Mary Jane Leach. Gayle Murchison, associate professor of music at the College of William and Mary, moderates the discussion. 

The first two events in The Unanswered Questions are already available on demand on YouTubeUnjust Malaise will be added at a later date.