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Music Freedom Day at Spectrum

The National Coalition Against Censorship, Freemuse and Spectrumpresent a listening party and live performance showcasing the work of at-risk, banned, and imprisoned musicians and composers from around the world. The event will take place on March 3, a day that will be celebrated as Music Freedom Day at related events in Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Morocco, Italy, Spain, Norway, and elsewhere.

The event will include a pre-premiere screening of an excerpt of "They Will Have To Kill Us First," a documentary about the brutal suppression of music in Mali.

Visitors are invited to sample a collection of recordings of suppressed music and personally connect to artists through virtual portal. Live performances will include Casualty Process, an electronic music project that originated in the Iranian underground, Ravenact (an NYC/Berlin duo) and a the NYC/Florida trio Burton/Beeferman/Cochrane. The evening will also feature remarks by hosts Svetlana Mintcheva, director of programs for the National Coalition Against Censorship, and Austin Dacey, creator of the Impossible Music Sessions.

March 3 has been designated Music Freedom Day by Freemuse, an international human rights organization based in Copenhagen. According to Freemuse, the purpose of the day is to recognize and support persecuted, imprisoned and at-risk musicians composers." Since 2007, more than 100 partners and volunteer organizers in 36 countries have joined in marking Music Freedom Day. More 

Spectrum is at 121 Ludlow Street, Floor 2, Manhattan NY 10002. Subway access is easy from the F (Delancey stop), J, M and Z (Essex stop) lines.

Will include brief presentations on particular, censored composers/performers and their music, as well as some live music, which will include

The Casualty Process: An Iranian electronic rock band in exile. The band includes Natch Nadjafi on guitar, keyboard, MIDI controller, and vocals, and Shayan Amini on guitar, bass, and vocals. 

Redacted: For Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Mohamedou Ould Slahi. Trio performance by Florida vocalist Jill Burton, NYC pianist/composer Gordon Beeferman and NYC guitarist Chris Cochrane.

Ravenact: New project by violinist Sara Walraf (Berlin) and pianist Liz Kosack (NYC/Berlin). They move between voices, instruments, light and shadows and respond to a call into subtext and interspace. Based on Saara’s poetry, they compose and explore the dimensions of dialogue.

Note: While performances of The Casualty Process have been officially suppressed, those associated with Redacted and Ravenact have not. All three groups have generously greed to participate in this event.

About the Artists

The Casualty Process, an Iranian band in exile, is influenced by artists such as Depeche Mode, Björk, Nine Inch Nails, The Prodigy, Justice, and Aphex Twin, and features, in their own words “aggressive noises, meaty bass and guitars, and industrial beats with electro and rock influences.” The Casualty Process creates a collage of danceable beats and catchy hooks offset by clamorous sound effects and longing vocals.

The roots of the band go back to 2007, when Natch and Shayan’s previous band, Dative, performed at N!, an underground rock concert that attracted over 700 people. There, Natch met his future band’s lead singer, Maral Afsharian, who was performing with another band. Police raided the event and arrested over 200 people. Maral was released the next day, but Natch and Shayan were imprisoned for 15 days and fined the equivalent of $50,000. Natch’s instruments were confiscated, so he began to explore electronic music on his computer with Maral as vocalist. Shayan later joined the band as guitarist for the album they were composing. In Autumn 2008, they officially named themselves The Plastic Wave and released their debut album [RE]action. Still, the trio could not perform publically since, as a woman, Maral was forbidden by authorities to perform lead vocals in a Western-style band.

Despite these obstacles, The Plastic Wave gained enough notoriety through their recordings and legal troubles to be invited to the 2009 SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas. However, the American Embassy in Dubai denied them travel visas because, due to their inability to play live, they were unable to demonstrate to officials that they were experienced musicians.

The band finally received something of a break in 2010, when their music was featured in the first Impossible Music Session in Brooklyn, New York. Brooklyn natives Cruel Black Dove performed a set of The Plastic Wave’s music, which was broadcasted to the band members via Skype.

Maral later left the band to pursue a solo career, and Natch changed the project’s name to The Casualty Process. In April 2011, Natch and Shayan relocated to New York City, having finally acquired visas. The following July they released the follow-up EP [UN]even. Since then, they have had the opportunity to tour the U.S. and play special performances at TEDx Conference, Festival of Ideas, The Impossible Music Sessions, and the Nashville Film Festival.

Chris Cochrane is a songwriter and guitarist who has been playing in New York since the 1980s. Chris has played with Thurston Moore, Zeena Parkins, John Zorn, Marc Ribot, Eszter Balint, Mike Patton, Henry Kaiser, Andrea Centazzo, Annie Gosfield, Tim Hodgkinson, Miguel Frasconi, Richard Buckner, Davey Williams, Ladonna Smith and Jim Pugliese. He has composed music for Dennis Cooper, John Jasperse, Neil Greenberg, Nayland Blake, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Jennifer Monson and Circus Amok. He was in the bands No Safety and Curlew, and is currently in Chris Cochrane's Collapsible Shoulder with Brian Chase, Mike Duclos and Kevin Bud Jones.

Chris recently completed a three year tour of a full cast version of THEM*accompanying nine dancers along with Ishmael Houston-Jones and Dennis Cooper. in New York (American Realness); the Netherlands (Springdanse); Paris (Teenage Hallucination Festival); Berlin (Tanz Festival); and Pointers, France.

*In 1985, as many of our friends and colleagues were dying of HIV/AIDS--still a new phenomenon at the time--we created a performance piece investigating how men interact with men. THEM combines Ishmael's dancing, Dennis's words, and my own original music into a work of bracing, collaborative art. The lives of our friends and community--the loss of their lives--grew to become part of the piece.

Gordon Beeferman, composer and pianist, has created a diverse body of adventurous work spanning opera, orchestral, chamber, and vocal music, improvisation, and collaborations with dance and other arts. His music has been commissioned and/or performed by the New York City Opera orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Albany Symphony, Quartet New Generation recorder collective, Momenta Quartet, American Brass Quintet, eighth blackbird, California EAR Unit, and others. The New York Times hailed “The Rat Land,” his chamber opera written with librettist Charlotte Jackson, as “complex and daringly modern…gritty, fidgety and intriguing.” Beeferman leads two groups which perform his compositions: Other Life Forms, a quartet, and Music for an Imaginary Band, a septet, described by Time Out New York as a “commanding avant-jazz ensemble.” He has received commissions from the Fromm Foundation, the BMI Foundation, and Concert Artists Guild, three BMI Student Composer Awards, a Tanglewood fellowship, and residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo and the Copland House. A “fully liberated pianist” (Cadence Magazine), Beeferman has performed extensively in New York as well as across the US and Canada; highlights include appearances at Roulette, ISSUE Project Room, the Vision Festival, MATA Festival, Hallwalls (Buffalo, NY), and the Music Gallery (Toronto), and with the Philip Glass Ensemble in Einstein on the Beach. Beeferman’s collaborations with choreographers have been produced in New York at the Joyce SoHo, Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church, The Chocolate Factory, and Abrons Arts Center. His recordings are available on Generate, Genuin, and Summit Records. Current projects include The Enchanted Organ: A Porn Opera, a new collaboration with Charlotte Jackson.

Extended vocalist/holistic/sound/movement/energy worker/performance artist Jill Burton was a professional ballerina, modern dancer, dance teacher and accompanist, and free improvisor in Gainesville FL during the 1970s. In 1978, she traveled to San Francisco where she met for the first time her life-long collaborators Davey Williams and LaDonna Smith, and connected for the first time to a larger, world-wide community of free improvisors. She lived in Manhattan's East Village from 1981-1991 where she was very active as part of the downtown experimental music/dance/performance art scene; including co-founding, w/Rain Worthington, the band HIZOHI (which also included Jane Scarpantoni, Yuval Gabay, and Kumiko Kimoto). She has been privileged to work with and learn from artists from the Peking Opera, the Noh Theater, and Alaska Native Tlingit dancers and storytellers. She has also spent more than 20 years studying and practicing bodywork, hands-on healing, energy-work, and sound-healing modalities, and is innovative in incorporating these practices and philosophies into live performance as an extended vocalist/movement artist in the field of free improvisation. She currently tours the U.S. several times a year performing as a soloist and with various collaborators and giving workshops and presentations.

"Jill Burton brings her voice and physical form as the two main tools of her trade. Her bio includes training in ballet and classical music at an early age, while having quickly developed an affinity for improvising in performance. Ms. Burton was a witness and participant in the profound cultural and interdisciplinary possibilities of the 1980′s arts renaissance that blossomed out of the then near-apocalyptic urban collapse and wholly non-commercial NYC/Lower East Side scene. While many musicians...come from that same NYC/LES arts scene, few could add something as inverted a seminal experience as Burton’s six years as musical accompanist for Pacific Northwestern Tlingit tribe storytellers in Sitka, Alaska. She has spent more than fifteen years studying and practicing non-invasive medical modalities including Reiki, Ortho-Bionomy and Sound Healing. Burton’s improvised works manifest most often in wordless vocals, seemingly constructing invisible sonic architecture, both bordering the interior of a venue and transforming those same borders into transducers carrying vibrations." ~Matt Gorney, Avant Music News

Sara Walraf is a berlin based violinist/composer and poet involved in contemporary and improvised music. She works in different projects all over Europe and worked and played with many artists (Tomomi Adachi, Brad Henkel, You Nakai, Lucas Leidinger..) as well as in international Ensembles in contemporary festivals like Faithful Festival/Berlin. Release of her latest compositions in march '15.
She is director of art performances in public space and curator of a series for interdisciplinary projects in Berlin. After world premiere in "Ausland"/Berlin, Walraf currently tours with her brand new project Ravenact, an extraordinary connection between music, text and

Liz Kosack is a synthesizer player and mask maker from Maine. After living in Red Hook, Brooklyn for 5 years, she moved to Berlin to study composition, where she remains based. She is currently involved in several projects that span both locales, and bridge many disciplines - delighting in bringing visual and performative elements to concerts while candidly pursuing the digital synthesizer as a serious expressive instrument. see some of her masks on flickr: 

About the Cohosting Organizations

Freemuse is an independent international membership organisation advocating and defending freedom of expression for musicians and composers worldwide. Freemuse was born of the 1st World Conference on Music and Censorship held in Copenhagen in November 1998. The conference joined together professionals from diverse fields and countries – musicians, journalists, researchers, record industry professionals and human rights activists – to examine, discuss and document a wide variety of abuses from the apparently benign to the overtly extreme. Freemuse has Special Consultative Status with the United Nation‘s Economic and Social Council, ECOSOC, since 2012. 

The National Coalition against Censorship’s mission is to promote freedom of thought, inquiry and expression and oppose censorship in all its forms. The Coalition formed in response to the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Miller v. California, which narrowed First Amendment protections for sexual expression and opened the door to obscenity prosecutions. Over 40 years, as an alliance of more than 50 national non-profits, including literary, artistic, religious, educational, professional, labor, and civil liberties groups, we have engaged in direct advocacy and education to support First Amendment principles. NCAC is unique in that we are national in scope, but often local in our approach. We work with community members to resolve censorship controversies without the need for litigation. 

Spectrum is a Lower East Side performance venue and art gallery dedicated to innovation and virtuosity in the arts.

Music Freedom Day 
National Coalition Against Censorship 
The Casualty Process 
Jill Burton
Gordon Beeferman 
Chris Cochrane 
Saara Walraf
Liz Kosack