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Pride Month Digital Presentation

Wild Up & Music by Julius Eastman

Streaming June 1-30, 2023

Julius Eastman (1940-1990) was a trailblazing composer and a young, gay, and Black artist who challenged the norms and conventions of his time. Eastman was known for his avant-garde and experimental musical style, often incorporating elements of minimalism, improvisation, and repetitive structures.

Eastman played a significant role in the downtown New York City music scene in the 1970s and 1980s. He worked with renowned composers and performers, including Meredith Monk and Peter Maxwell Davies. Eastman’s compositions often featured repetitive patterns and rhythmic intensity, reflecting his interest in African-American music and his exploration of minimalism. The provocative titles of many of his works were meant to challenge racial and social norms, addressing themes of identity, discrimination, and political activism.

Sadly, Julius Eastman also faced significant personal and professional challenges, which led to his works being largely overlooked. After a period of homelessness, he passed away in obscurity, and many of his scores and recordings were lost or destroyed. However, in recent years, there has been a renewed interest in Eastman’s music, with efforts to recover and revive his compositions, ultimately recognizing his unique contributions to the contemporary classical music landscape.

The Los Angeles-based musical collective Wild Up, founded by University of Michigan alumnus Christopher Rountree, is dedicated to celebrating Eastman’s legacy by actively performing and recording his catalog of known works. Days after Wild Up’s UMS performance of Femenine in April, the ensemble filmed this 20-minute digital presentation featuring two additional pieces by Julius Eastman, Buddha and Joy Boy.

Filmed and recorded April 18, 2023 in Rackham Auditorium, Ann Arbor, MI.


Julius Eastman

Julius Eastman

Behind the Music

Featured Works (tap each for more info):

Buddha (1984)
Buddha is one of the final works by Julius Eastman, who died in 1990. The piece is based on a poem by Eastman — a meditation on the life and teachings of Buddha, as well as a reflection on Eastman's own struggles with racism, homophobia, and mental illness. The music is hypnotic and trance-like, and the open musical score has a single line of music with infinite possibilities for interpretation.
Joy Boy (1974)
Joy Boy explores the themes of Black joy, innocence, and rebellion, as well as the challenges and risks of being a self-actualized Black man in a hostile world. With its addition of vocals, the piece's rich and complex sonic texture is characterized by a haunting atmosphere of laughter, dread, and ecstasy, reflecting Eastman's own turbulent life and artistic vision.


Thank you to the Wild Up artists who performed in Ann Arbor:

View full roster
Chris Rountree / artistic director, conductor
Richard Valitutto / piano
Darian Donovan Thomas / violin, electronics
Andrew Tholl / violin
Adrianne Pope / violin
Mona Tian / violin
Derek Stein / cello
Marlon Martinez / bass
Izzy Gleicher / flutes
Erin Rogers / saxophones
Patrick Shiroishi / saxophones
Marta Tiesenga / saxophones
Shelley Washington / saxophones
Sidney Hopson / percussion
Jodie Landau / percussion, voice
Tariq Al Sabi / keyboards, voice
Odeya Nini / voice


Wild Up and Julius Eastman on our blog:


UMS Connect: Christopher Rountree, Wild Up

Hear from Christopher Rountree, founder and artistic director of musical collective Wild Up, about the ensemble’s origins, its performance philosophy, and why they champion works by the late composer Julius Eastman.



Rediscovering Julius Eastman and his Minimalist Masterpiece

Learn more about composer Julius Eastman and his 1974 minimalist masterpiece Femenine, performed by Wild Up in the 2022/23 season.


Additional Recordings

Wild Up is in the process of recording the complete known works of Julius Eastman. Two of seven total recordings have been released, and Volume Three arrives soon on June 16. Find Wild Up on Apple Music or Spotify.

LGBTQ+ Resources

Learn more about LGBTQ+ resources and support offered by organizations on campus and throughout Southeast Michigan:

Affirmations Community Center of SE Michigan

Jim Toy Community Center of Washtenaw County

LGBTQ+ Health at Michigan Medicine

Pride Source  |  Between the Lines

U-M Spectrum Center

U-M Student Organizations