Artist in Residence: Alarm Will Sound

For year two of the Museum's Artist in Residence program, we partner with Alarm Will Sound, one of the most creative ensembles working today. Hailed by New York magazine as "the Seal Team Six of new music," Alarm Will Sound creates unique and thrilling performance experiences. Just beyond the cutting edge of music, dance, and theater, this hugely respected and highly accomplished group of performer-composers turns its collective imagination for one year to the Met's permanent collection and galleries.

Members of Alarm Will Sound have assembled the following itinerary based on musical inspirations and connections between the pieces they will perform and works in the Met's permanent collection.

Learn more about Alarm Will Sound's upcoming performances at the Met.

Tour stops (9)

  1. 1

    Rubens, His Wife Helena Fourment (1614–1673), and Their Son Frans (1633–1678)

    Selected by: Mike Clayville (Trombone)
    Program: The Permanent Collection (October 11, 2013)
    Music inspiration: Richard Wagner's Siegfried Idyll

    Richard Wagner wrote Siegfried Idyll as a birthday present for Cosima, his wife, after the birth of their son Siegfried. Just as Siegfried Idyll is a touching and personal work by a man accustomed to grand compositions, this painting is an intimate scene from an artist who prepared portraits of heads of state, religious pictures, and mythological scenes.

  2. 2

    Variations (Progressive Motif)

    Selected by: Gavin Chuck (Managing Director, Composer)
    Program: The Permanent Collection (October 11, 2013)
    Music inspiration: Gyorgy Ligeti's Chamber Concerto, third movement: movimento preciso e meccanico

    I love art and music made within tight constraints. Here, Paul Klee limits himself to straight lines and Ligeti to pulsed rhythms.  Can anything meaningful be made with such basic material? Klee and Ligeti push and pull their simple motifs into complex shapes and gestures, creating unpredictable, unstable, and complex interactions. The resulting tension is powerfully—perhaps unexpectedly—expressive because even small transformations of such basic ideas say something big about artistic creation. Klee's lines are only roughly straight, and musicians can be only so precise and mechanical. In the apparent effort to draw a straight line by hand (Klee) or to keep conflicting pulses steady (Ligeti), and in the choice to create something from nearly nothing, I can feel the human imagination at work.

  3. 3

    Terracotta hydria (water jar)

    Selected by: Courtney Orlando (Violin, Voice, Keyboards)
    Program: The Permanent Collection (October 11, 2013)
    Music inspiration: Gyorgy Ligeti's Chamber Concerto, second movement: Calmo, sostenuto

    I've always been fascinated by Cassandra of Greek mythology. Apollo, who gave her the gift of prophecy on account of her beauty, then cursed her when she refused his advances. The curse meant no one would believe her predictions, which proved disastrous for the Trojans. The vase depicts Ajax and Achilles passing the time while Troy is under siege. I am reminded of Cassandra when listening to the second movement of György Ligeti's Chamber Concerto. The murmurings at the beginning of the movement evoke for me her personal realizations of what's to come, and the outbursts her crying out for people to listen.  Over time, the outbursts become fewer, and then dissolve into an agitated quietness, which calls to mind Cassandra's descent into madness.

  4. 4

    Framing New York Harbor

    Selected by: Elisabeth Stimpert (Clarinets)
    Program: All Steve Reich Concert (November 16, 2013)
    Music inspiration: Steve Reich's City Life

    On seeing this photograph, I was immediately reminded of the striking fourth movement of Steve Reich's City Life, in which the sounds of boats, buoys, and a human heartbeat are woven with the sounds of strings and winds to create an eerie and unsettling sonic experience. John Baldessari puts the artist's viewpoint directly into the picture, selecting a smaller portion of the cityscape and focusing our attention on the boat itself. In City Life, Reich uses the gritty everyday sounds of life in New York City (car horns, air brakes, subway chimes, door slams, a pile driver, voices, alarms, and sirens) to create the fabric of the work.

  5. 5

    Second Theme

    Selected by: Matt Marks (Horn, Keyboards, Voice, Composer)
    Program: All Steve Reich Concert (November 16, 2013)
    Music inspiration: Steve Reich's Clapping Music

    I've always held a mysterious affinity for the strict, measured beauty of geometric abstraction, ever since viewing an exhibition in Berlin of the work of Kazimir Malevich. Burgoyne Diller's formal constructions remind me of the clean rhythmic equation that makes up Clapping Music, by (fellow New Yorker) Steve Reich. Each has a central conceit of cold, hard math, yet bursts beneath the surface with life—Second Theme, with color, and Clapping Music, with groove.

  6. 6


    Selected by: Bill Kalinkos (Clarinets)
    Program: All Steve Reich Concert (November 16, 2013)
    Music inspiration: Steve Reich's New York Counterpoint

    Both Steve Reich's New York Counterpoint and Untitled by Lee Krasner seem to capture the restless energy of New York City. Reich's statement is more geometrical. By utilizing a pre-recorded choir of clarinets, he creates a rhythmically intricate web of interlocking pulses and harmonies. Krasner's work is more abstract in form. It displays a different type of rhythmic movement and interplay of lines. I think that both of these pieces of art complement each other perfectly.

  7. 7

    Oval Form with Strings and Color

    Selected by: Miles Brown (Double Bass, Electric Bass)
    Program: Twinned (February 20, 2014)
    Music inspiration: Aphex Twin's Jynwethek Ylow

    I think of Jynweythek Ylow by Aphex Twin when I see this sculpture. The interplay of the strings creates an interesting pattern that changes as you view it from different angles. Movement arises out of the stationary object. The Aphex Twin tune has a serene, beautiful melody that nonetheless has an innate motion. Dance Heginbotham will explore this motion in the site-specific work Twinned at the Met on February 20, 2014.

  8. 8

    Aeroplane Synchromy in Yellow-Orange

    Selected by: Erin Lesser (Flute)
    Program: Twinned (February 20, 2014)
    Music inspiration: Tyondai Braxton's Fly By Wire

    When Tyondai Braxton talked about his piece Fly By Wire, he described elements of stability versus turbulence, his love of creating new orchestral textures and colors by juxtaposing electronic and analog sounds, and his desire for mechanical processes to be played in a humanistic, expressive manner. In my mind, this painting by Stanton Macdonald-Wright captures all of these elements. Disparate shapes and colors all fly together to create an incredibly engaging work that is filled with a sense of motion. I feel a sense of adventure looking at this work, much as I do when performing Ty's piece!

  9. 9

    Circus Horse

    Selected by: Alan Pierson (Artistic Director, Conductor)
    Program: Twinned (February 20, 2014)
    Music inspiration: Edgard Varèse's Poème électronique

    Varèse's groundbreaking multi-channel electronic composition, Poème électronique, epitomizes his thinking about music as "organized sound" or "sound sculpture." Varèse's ideas about abstracting music away from traditional forms and gestures was inspired by what he saw happening in the visual art world, to which he'd long been deeply connected, even having been mentored by Rodin early in his career. In the 1930s, he began collaborating with his friend Joan Miró on a massive festival to feature a new spatial symphony he envisioned. It was never finished, and the Poème remains his most fully worked out expression of his sculptural and visual approach to music. The piece resonates with the abstract, blocky forms of Miró paintings like this one.

Other Itineraries

This tour includes stops on more than one floor. Select each floor view on the map to see the complete tour.


View a Special Exhibition on the Map

View Facilities on the Map