means many different things to many different people.
It is a genre-bending multi-media production featuring 8 track audio, dual screen video and masterful, adventurous music.
It is the stories of 700 homeless New Yorkers living on the streets in the late ‘90’s
It is ongoing arts education for hundreds of homeless and highly disadvantaged New York children
The Portraits Project
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See below for a description
of each movement and a
sampling of stills from
MOTHER TERESA - no audio sample
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I began the Portraits Project with the objective of creating a large
scale work that would literally give a voice to the homeless. I have
always felt that art cannot help but be a barometer of the time and
the place from which it arises and I wanted to use this opportunity
to create a "painterly" work to illuminate this specific community at
this specific time. I also wanted to give a variety of ensembles the
opportunity to perform quality music with some social significance
and to create works that might find a lasting place in the repertoire.
As I went forward with the interview process, though, I was struck
by the healing that was possible simply by talking to people who
often went days or weeks without conversing with another human
being, people whose living condition was an unspeakable secret
and an unbearable embarrassment. I saw that having the opportunity
simply to express their condition provided a degree of empowerment
in and of itself. The majority of people I spoke to thanked me for
taking the time to sit and listen. I was able to see their sense of self
and esteem rejuvenate in the course of just a few minutes of
storytelling. It is my ambition through this piece to allow the breadth
and diversity of the homeless community to express itself, to provide
an artistic platform by which these people can be understood for their
humanity, and to offer a glimpse at the power that this experience has
held for me personally.
Portraits is a large scale musical work, approximately 95
minutes in duration, scored for 8 track audio, soloists and chamber
ensembles. Performers have included The Meridian Arts Ensemble,
The Sirius String Quartet, Glen Velez, Steve Gorn, the Quintet of the
Americas, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Lisa Bielawa, Dave Cossin and
Kristin Norderval. The complete production has had runs at The
Kitchen in New York in March of 2000 and January 2001 and the
Public Theater in 2002. Plans are currently being made for the
release of a CD/DVD as well as upcoming tours.
The taped material, sometimes foreground and sometimes
background, is a continuous collage consisting of sampled sounds
from the experience of homeless people in New York. These
samplings include: interviews, songs and poetry of street people,
interaction within the homeless community, meals on the street,
meals at dinner programs, the ramblings of the mentally disturbed
and the musings of the working homeless, interaction between the
homeless and city agencies, the homed, police,advocacy groups and
Portraits tours with an ensemble of 10 New York, new music all-stars
Alternate versions also exist in 4, 5 & 6 track DVD configurations
Watch our home page for performances, tours & announcements!
The Portraits Project began with the simple ambition of creating
a musical work with taped accompaniment on the theme
of homelessness. As Kevin entered in to the planning stages of the
piece, though, he quickly came to the conclusion that this piece and
its concept were far bigger than first imagined. Over the following
months Kevin entered into a relationship with the Coalition for the
Homeless in New York, planned out a three year schedule for the
project (which expanded dramatically) and began to educate
himself on the issues he would be exploring. Kevin secured
product support and seed money for the necessary recording
equipment and hit the streets. He conducted and recorded over
700 interviews with homeless people on the streets of New York
over a 14 month period and collected over 100 hours of useable
taped material for the project. He then honed his skills in digital
editing and mastering and threw himself into the process of writing
the 95 minutes of music that now makes up the final piece.
The staged version includes two movements for actor and tape which are not included here.