N Y Live Comp Festival 2022




NEW YORK, New York– Irondale, Brooklyn’s leading theatrical and artistically ambitious think-tank theater ensemble, together with the Walter Thompson Orchestra, presents The New York Live Composing Festival, June 16-18. A three-day event that puts the Soundpainting and Conduction live composing sign languages into the spotlight to create music, theater and movement, the festival brings together multi-disciplinary New York artists hailing from all over the world to explore the language of real-time composition.

A globally recognized live composing sign language comprised of more than 1,500 gestures, Soundpainting was created by composer and pioneer Walter Thompson in 1974 as a way to create a composition in real time with a group of artists. When executing this technique, the Soundpainter

stands in front of a group of performers to communicate a series of signs using hand and body gestures indicating specific or aleatoric material to be performed by the group, yielding a real-time composition. Like Thompson, composer Butch Morris created Conduction, a sign language to explore similar concepts within the music landscape. Conduction utilizes a conductor’s baton and works with a vocabulary of ideographic signs and gestures activated to modify or construct a real-time musical composition. Though different creative languages, both Soundpainting and Conduction share the concepts of transmitting generative information for interpretation by the individual and the collective, to provide instantaneous possibilities for altering or initiating harmony, melody, rhythm, articulation, phrasing, or form. Celebrating both methods and the creation of spontaneous works, the Festival features the Walter Thompson Orchestra and other ensembles working in and exploring these mediums. From the subversive Jazz quartet Sexmob to the Brooklyn based Letter of Marque Theater Company, the politically charged and provocative Strike Anywhere Ensemble Project to Medeski Martin & Wood drummer and composer Billy Martin and more, audiences will experience three days of original, unrepeatable live composed work for audiences of all ages.

“In the last several years there have been few opportunities for people using different forms of live composing such as Soundpainting and Conduction to get together and share creative exchanges,” notes Walter Thompson, the Festival’s co-producer. “This festival is a special occasion to experience the diversity of ways that compositional sign languages are being used in wide ranging directions. Though Butch Morris, creator of Conduction, and I never collaborated artistically, we became dear friends in the last years of his life, and this festival represents an important dialogue between our compositional languages and the ways that other musicians, performing artists, and composers are continuing to explore new paths for real-time composition.”

“Walter Thompson is one of the true musical innovators of our time,” says Irondale’s Executive Director, Terry Greiss. “He has been a friend and collaborator for over thirty years, and Walter’s work has been a strong influence on our own,” he continues.  “I believe that his work with the Irondale company has informed the development of Soundpainting. It is with great pride that we welcome him “home” to the Space at Irondale.”


Thursday, June 16, 2022

7:30 p.m., Sexmob

8:30 p.m., Walter Thompson Orchestra

9:30 p.m., Letter of Marque Theater Company

Friday, June 17, 2022

7:30 p.m., Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble

8:30 p.m., Walter Thompson Orchestra, featuring Sarah Weaver

9:30 p.m., Pedestrian, conducted by Will Shore

Saturday, June 18, 2022

7:30 p.m., Subconscious Sampler Collective

8:30 p.m., Billy Martin and Friends

9:30 p.m., Walter Thompson Orchestra


General admission is $20, students, senior and working artists, $10

All tickets are available at https://irondale.org/on-stage/new-york-live-composing-sound-painting-festival/