Red Desert review in the WIRE, Issue 443, Jan 2021

Modern Composition By Julian Cowley, The Wire, Issue 443, January 2021

Red Desert Ensemble, Chorochronos, Infrequent Seams, CD/DL/LP

Splitting their time between New York Brooklyn and a mountain cabin in Utah, percussionist Devin Maxwell and clarinettist Katie Porter have been honing their finely poised musical partnership for the best part of two decades. They came together as a duo when Michael Pisaro wrote Turning for them in 2002. It is revived here, sparse and tense, a prolonged, palpably gradual and finely balanced rotation around the threshold of audibility. Three other pieces fill out the picture. In Andre Cormier’s Sommeil, trills and chimes are interspersed with muted tones and rumblings. Lucie Vitkova’s Choral No. 13 is luminous and graceful. Maxwell’s own Bonneville Park 3 is a spectral tour de force pitching acoustic instruments against textured electronics. Performances that testify to the deep affinity and meshed horizons that unite and energise Red Desert Ensemble.

Premiering Teodora Stepancic’s “Clarinet sounds all over the place” livestreamed at Mise-En_Place Brooklyn

Yesterday we performed Teodora’s duet for clarinet and casios. I was livestreamed in to Mise-En_Place in Brooklyn, my sounds broadcast over the speakers inside the space, along with other clarinet recordings, some from my speakers too, and Teodora performed her part in the space. It took several rehearsals for Teodora and I to coordinate how to work over zoom at the same time as performing with a delayed livestream. But we did it. A cacophony of clarinets and casios, but the actual sound was just a gorgeous bathtub of us. Also I get to sing and play. I love that. All three works on the concert were so beautiful, a duo with Erin Rogers on sax and Rachel Mangold on bass. So happy to be a part of this project, the recording comes out on Love Records in the spring and it’s all supported by a NYFA grant for women. HERE IS THE SHOW- It starts at about 15 minutes in, my piece is first. xo

Acoustic+ | Teodora Stepančić | mise-en place

Date: October 29, 2020Time: 2:30 pm

Duets with Erin Rogers, Rachel Mangold and Katie Porter.

THURSDAY, October 29, 2020 // 2:30 PM EST

YouTube Live (
Facebook Live (

More information HERE.


I recorded bass clarinet sounds to this surreal video score by Andy Graydon, and ended up in a quartet with France Jobin (Montreal), Pierre Gerard (Liege) and Klaus Janek (Berlin). It’s a beauty. And there are SEVEN versions, with artists from all over the world, enjoying many of the same things that I do about time, space and music, and reminding me that community is bigger than this weirdness we’re living through.


Various Artists, seven interpretations of a moving image score by Andy Graydon Bandcamp Pre-Order at Begins Friday, October 2nd (a Bandcamp fee-waive day)

A*rray Listening Party Hosted by Non-EventThursday, October 1st, 8:00 PM EST

About A*rray

A*rray is a new series of music compositions based on a moving image score by Andy Graydon. In response to the isolation and distancing imposed by the pandemic, Graydon began in April, 2020 to invite musicians and artists from around the world to play their own solo interpretations of the score, a four-channel video that forms the basis of his installation A* (2019). Graydon gathered these contributions into four-player ensembles, creating seven new 30-minute works. A central theme of the video score is the productive complexity of voices in conflict, and the necessity of dissonance in making meaningful connections. Each piece explores this terrain in unexpected and exciting ways, resulting in the lively variety across the series.

A*rray is being released on Bandcamp through Graydon’s own Internegative imprint, with a special pre-order starting October 2nd. The release includes all seven compositions, high resolution cover images, and a special download of the A* video score with the original installation soundtrack.

contributing artists: Cecilia Lopez, Ryan Choi, sawako, Jan St Werner, Barbara Held, Luke Martin, France Jobin, Delia Gonzalez, Stephen Vitiello, Pierre Gerard, Katie Porter, Gil Sansón, Kris Limbach, Richard Garet, José Rivera, Klaus Janek, Jonathan Zorn, Eden Girma, Amnon Wolman, Ensemble Musica Nova (Shira Legmann, Maayan Tsadka, Tom Soloveitzik, Yoni Niv), Edwin Lo, Takeshi Nishimoto, David Sani, Jenn Grossman, Wendy Eisenberg

Garden concert

On Thursday Sept 10, 2020 Red Desert Ensemble played a concert at the Summit Community Garden in Park City, Utah, a benefit for the garden’s COVID19 effort to provide fresh food to those in need in our community. We performed solo works by Teodora Stepancic, Daniel Goode, Tim Parkinson, Devin Maxwell and Iannis Xenakis. We also played Having Never Written A Note for Percussion by Jim Tenney with our audience. It was a little cold but very special to share music with people in real life.

Several installations and soundwalks were also placed around the garden, including text scores by Pauline Oliveros, Yoko Ono, Christian Wolff, David Dunn, a soundwalk a la Hildegard Westerkamp and several listening stations facing various vistas, a la Max Neuhaus. I wanted to curate a way to experience experimental music and sound in a safe and open way, an invitation to listen. You can read more about the project here:

Listen/Space Commissions at DOGSTAR! JUNE 9, 2019

The Listen/Space Commissions



June 9, 2019, 8PM on the DOGSTAR Orchestra Festival at the WildBeast at CalArts

Selections from the mountains: five years after Listen/Space moved to a remote cabin in Wanship, UT and started commissioning new works for experimental chamber ensemble, we release 3 volumes of scores and recordings on Frog Peak.

Performers: Katie Porter, clarinet/bass clarinet; Quentin Tolimieri, piano; Stephen Pfeifer, bass; Phil Rodriguez, trumpet; Nathan Herrera, saxophone; Christine Tavolacci, flute; Eric KM Clark, violin; Devin Maxwell, conductor/percussion; Kristin Olson, oboe; Andrew Munsey, percussion; Erin Barnes, vibraphone

Quentin Tolimieri – Bass Clarinet, Piano, Bass (2019) PREMIERE for piano, bass clarinet and bass
Travis Just – Keep Your Eyes Open (2015)
G Douglas Barrett – Everything Has Been Purged from this Composition but Melody (2015)
Eric KM Clark – Kernal (2018)
Laura Steenberge – Ritual for 3 (2016)
Nathan Herrera –…

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Old photos from Brooklyn shows circa 2007?

Found these on the good ol’ internet today.  FAVORITE PEOPLES

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At Galapagos, Brooklyn with Analog Arts, playing maybe Music for Spaceships by Devin Maxwell:  James Moore (guitar), Johnny Chang (violin), Eric KM Clark (violin), Katie Porter (clarinet) and Joe Drew (trumpet).  Next photo: Hira Lesea (drumset), Devin Maxwell (guitar), Katie Porter (clarinet), Kevin Farrell (bass) playing a quartet of Dev’s I don’t remember at Rattelstick Playwright’s Theater, NYC.

Music into mountains, deserts, oceans

In 2019 I plan to send more music I love off mountains and into the desert and into the ocean. I spent some time in Madeira learning a Lois V Vierk piece, here’s a snip from my practice room!!! Happy New year all you inspiring people xo kp

Red Desert = Top Ten performances of the Utah Enlightenment in 2018!!

Our show at the UMFA this last September is listed as a top ten moment in the arts here in Utah.  We are thrilled!

“One of the most imaginative concerts of the year, Red Desert presented more than 80 years of experimental music in a continuous stream that ultimately comprised a one-hour composition. The Utah performance followed two recent appearances in New York City. The concert was presented in the Great Hall gallery of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts – a fitting venue.

As The Utah Review explained, “the order and the selected works were curated carefully. Experimentalism is not haphazard nor is it trivial nor a novel curiosity. Indeed, the Red Desert performance offered an enlightening perspective of how experimentalism shapes and affirms new sounds and techniques in the long game approach of reaching musicians and listeners.”

4th annual Listen/Space Residency

The Listen/Space Commissions

We held our 4th annual Listen/Space residency at the end of June 2018 in Tollgate Canyon, Utah.  We recorded new pieces by Lucie Vitkova, Stephanie Richards, Devin Maxwell, Eric KM Clark, Kevin Farrell, Jonathan Marmor and Andre Cormier with musicians Katie Porter, Kristin Olson, Christine Tavolacci, Eric KM Clark, Nathan Herrera, Phil Rodriguez, Gavin Ryan, Jake Rosenzweig and Kevin Farrell.  And baby Ramona!  And we held a house concert featuring Andre Cormier’s Piling Sand, Piling Stone 4, a US premiere of the 96 minute cumulative delay loop for solo flute performed by Christine Tavolacci, we also played pieces by James Tenney, Johannes Kreidler and Devin Maxwell.

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Here is the final program for Saturday’s 3-hour concert at Utah’s Sun Tunnels by Nancy Holt.

RED DESERT AT THE SUN TUNNELS – a concert of experimental music
Sun Tunnels Meet-Up organized by the UMFA (Utah Museum of Fine Arts)
Lucin, Utah
September 30, 2017
1PM- 4PM


Katie Porter, clarinets/curator
Devin Maxwell, percussion/composer
Red Desert ensemble (Katie Porter, clarinets, Devin Maxwell, percussion) perform a 3-hour concert of experimental works at the Sun Tunnels, a land artwork in Lucin, Utah by Nancy Holt. Inspired by both the Sun Tunnel’s permanence in the desert and the gradual change experienced under the sun, the music suggests a long-form relationship with time and both subtle and sudden changes. The concert is structured loosely after James Tenney’s score: Having Never Written A Note For Percussion. We will gradually crescendo and decrescendo over the course of 3 hours of music. Included are works by Wandelweiser composers, the “composers of quiet”: Michael Pisaro, Manfred Werder, Craig Shepard and Anastassis Philippakopoulos, American avant-garde & experimental composers: John Cage, Christian Wolff, Milton Babbitt, Pauline Oliveros and James Tenney, Italy’s avant-garde Giacinto Scelsi and Giancarlo Sciaffini and a newer generation of composers who share these modern experimental roots: André Cormier, Devin Maxwell and Tim Parkinson.

RED DESERT is the duo project of clarinetist Katie Porter and composer/percussionist Devin Maxwell. We have been performing, commissioning, creating and championing interesting music for 17 years. Founded in Brooklyn, NY but now calling mountains of Utah home, our repertoire prominently features experimental composers, especially ones that strive to challenge and enrich our understanding of what music is and can be. Recordings of Red Desert can be heard on Phill Niblock’s XI label (NY), Edition Wandelweiser Records, and Infrequent Seams (NY)


Michael Pisaro
Within (6) for solo clarinet (1998) pages 1-3, Valencia, CA, 30’

Michael Pisaro
A Little Dance for percussion (2000), Valencia, CA, 5’

Craig Shephard
Sheepshead Bay May 20, 2012 for clarinet and percussion (2012), Brooklyn, NY, 10’

Tim Parkinson
Drum Piece for solo percussion (2009), London, UK, 10’

Giacinto Scelsi
Preghiera per un’ombra for solo clarinet (1954), Italy, 12’

John Cage
One 4 for solo percussion (1990), USA, 6’

Devin Maxwell
Cloudseeding 4 (excerpt) for solo bass clarinet (2017) Park City, Utah, 7’

André Cormier
Sommeil for clarinet and percussion (2002) for Katie Porter & Devin Maxwell, Moncton, Canada, 12’

James Tenney
Having Never Written A Note for Percussion (1971) USA, 10’

Milton Babbitt
My Ends Are My Beginnings for clarinet (bass clarinet) solo (1978) USA 16’

Giancarlo Schiaffini
10 AM for free instrumentation (1979) Italy, 5’

Pauline Oliveros
All Fours for Drumset (1998) USA, 4’

Christian Wolff
Microexercises for one or more players, free instrumentation (2006) Dartmouth, NH, 6’

Manfred Werder
2 ausführende: pages 556 and 557 of 4000 page score (2017) Zurich, Switzerland, 16’

Michael Pisaro
Turning for Bass Clarinet and Percussion (2001), for Katie Porter &
Devin Maxwell, Valencia, CA, 20’

Anastassis Philippakopoulos
Song 9 for Bass Clarinet solo (2013) Athens, Greece, 6’

KATIE PORTER is a clarinetist and curator who specializes in experimental chamber and solo music. She currently works to commission, record and present new chamber music through her arts non-profit, LISTEN/SPACE. Her curatorial work includes 50+ performances at her music venue, Listen/Space, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (2008-2011), 25 new commissions and recordings for chamber ensemble for the Listen/Space Commissions (2015-17), 3 annual residencies for musicians and composers in Tollgate Canyon, Utah (2015-17), Co-founder of the VU Symposium for experimental, improvised, and electronic music at the Park City Library in Park City, Utah (2016-ongoing), curator of VU 2 (2017), a day-long concert of fixed media electronic music at the Park City Library, Utah, curator at ELMS (Experimental Listening and Music Sessions) in Boston (2017) and of ongoing commissions and concerts with her percussion/clarinet duo, Red Desert.
As a clarinetist, Katie’s recent performances include Morton Feldman’s Bass Clarinet & Percussion at Abrons Art Center (NYC), new commissions with Daniel Goode’s Flexible Orchestra at Roulette (NYC), Arthur Russell’s Instrumentals for the American Mavericks Festival at The Kitchen (NYC), Peter Gordon’s LOLO at Roulette (NYC), solo concerts at Dog Star Orchestra (LA), with Craig Shepard at Issue Project Room (Brooklyn), Michael Pisaro’s Asleep, Street, Pipes, Tones at Experimental Intermedia (NYC) and The Stone (NYC) and Tombstones with Julia Holter at Issue Project Room (Brooklyn), Christian Wolff, Tom Johnson, and other American experimentalists with the Dedalus Ensemble (France), music of Wandelweiser composers at the Twin Cities Wandelweiser Festival (St Paul), solo clarinet works of Giacinto Scelsi at Scelsiana (Italy), Morris Rosenzweig’s 2005 and Counting: Katrina on the NOVA Chamber Music Series (SLC), Brian Harnetty’s Shawnee,OH at the Contemporary Art Center (Cincinnati) and the Wexner Art Center (Columbus), and the premier of John Luther Adam’s SILA at Lincoln Center (NYC).
She can be heard on the record labels: Editions Wandelweiser, FOOM, Infrequent Seams, Mode Records, Gravity Wave, XI Records, Moniker, La Société Expéditionnaire and Dust to Digital, among others. Her songs are published by Good Child Music NYC and have been performed with her band, Lady Lucille, at the Ontological-Hysteric Theater (NYC), Triskelion Arts (Brooklyn), Pianos (NYC), Joe’s Pub (NYC), SXSW (Austin), the Cakeshop (NYC), LadyFest (Chicago) and on the BBC

Composer DEVIN MAXWELL’s chamber music has been described as “amiably strident…clusters hammered insistently” by the New York Times and orchestral works “a beautiful puzzle, … fitting between plucks and pedals that build pyramid melodies” by the American Record Guide. He has recently been commissioned by the NEXT Ensemble (Ogden, UT), MMM… (Tokyo), BENT FREQUENCY (Atlanta), ENSEMBLE DEDALUS (Paris), the Deer Valley Music Festival Emerging Quartets and Composers for the SKYROS QUARTET (Lincoln, NB) and featured at The Stone (NYC), Abron’s Art Center (NYC), the Ontological Theater (NYC), BLIM (Vancouver), ARTSaha (Omaha), the Wulf (Los Angeles), Monkeytown (NYC), Dartmouth College, Columbia University, NYU, Boston Conservatory, and Kenyon College. Two of his orchestral compositions, Six Short Places and Chester, NJ have been premiered at the Ostrava Days Festival in Czhechia. Awards include the Nief Norf Composition Prize, the Leroy Robertson Prize, “Best Experimental Film” New York Independent Film Festival, New Music USA/Commissioning Music USA, and an Honorable Mention at the American Composer’s Orchestra 2013 Underwood Readings.
His music is critically examined in the book Boring, Formless Nonsense; Experimental Music and the Aesthetics of Failure by Eldritch Priest, and the 2012 journal Postmodern Culture. Maxwell frequently collaborates with choreographer Jessica Gaynor Dance (NYC), filmmaker Rollin Hunt (Los Angeles), graphic designer Phillip Niemeyer (Austin), photographer Svavar Jonatansson (Iceland), clarinetist Katie Porter (RED DESERT) and violist/songwriter Anni Rossi (NYC). Maxwell is a graduate of The Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, California Institute of the Arts Composer/Performer and Ph.D. in Composition at the University of Utah. He is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Utah School of Music and Westminster College.
The first album dedicated solely to his compositions DEVIN MAXWELL WORKS 2011-14 was released on Infrequent Seams (NY) in June 2016 and features new works for orchestra, electronics, string quartet, solo and chamber ensembles and his compositions are published by Good Child Music New York and Éditions musique SISYPHE.