Interviews with employees at Flame Cut Steel, Brooklyn, NY (E)
Steelworks was commissioned by TACTUS, the contemporary music ensemble at Manhattan School of Music and premiered at Greenfield Hall in New York City. The tape part incorporates recordings of interviews with employees and machinery at Flame Cut Steelworks, the last steelworks factory in Brooklyn, which later relocated from its Williamsburg location. These recordings became the kernel for the music.
New York based visual artist Luke DuBois created a film for this work based on a 1936 industrial film steel: a symphony of industry that was sponsored by the American iron and steel institute, and is now in the public domain. Luke writes:
“The black-and-white film is laid out in a 2x2 grid on the screen, and played at more-or-less normal speed, though I did a bit of editing to remove the titles and a few other sequences in the film that didn't focus directly on steel production. The trick is that the film is 'scrubbed' in reaction to the tape part of Anna's music, with the four panes being controlled by the high and low frequencies in the left and right channels of Anna's tape part. Loud sounds cause the film to jump forward in time slightly; quiet moments cause the film to slow down. As a result, the four panes of the movie stay more-or-less in synch, but shimmer according to the sound behind them. I then colorized and blurred the film based on the timbre of the sounds I was listening to at that moment in the piece.”
Steelworks was later choreographed by Matthew Neenan and premiered with his company, BalletX, at Wilma Theater, Philadelphia.
In 2012, Tzadik Records released a full album of my music, titled Blue Moth, that showcases a diverse range of electroacoustic chamber music, including Steelworks which features musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
— Anna Clyne
This program note may be reproduced free of charge in concert programs with a credit to the composer.
"Clyne layers her machine-like noises with an expert sense of craft to create an overwhelming sonic tour de force…"
— John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune
"The most compelling music heard was Clyne’s Steelworks ... Steelworks is that rarest of compositions, a multimedia piece that actually works … This is edgy, individual and compelling music…"
— Lawrence A Johnson, Chicago Classical Review