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Varispeed Collective: Robert Ashley, Perfect Lives

Gelsey Bell singer, songwriter, and scholar; Brian McCorkle vocalist and composer/performer; and Dave Ruder vocalist, clarinetist, guitarist, composer/writer discuss their efforts as part of the Varispeed Collective to mount a live version of Perfect Lives, Robert Ashley’s legendary made-for-television musical mini-serial in seven locations around Jersey City, New Jersey on Saturday, September 19, 2015.

Plus four musical examples from their previous performances of the piece. Here are details:

Perfect Lives
An opera by Robert Ashley
Arranged and performed by Varispeed with Con Vivo Music

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A FREE Day-Long Music Event
The performance will take place in seven 30-minute episodes at seven Jersey City venues throughout one day.

Originally released in the 1980s as episodes of a music-based BBC television show, Perfect Lives is Robert Ashley’s quirky, energetic, and philosophical modern opera, adapted anew by Varispeed and narrated by the band and guest musicians. Its seven episodes weave the intersecting stories of people in the American Midwest, centered around a mysterious crime, an elopement, and the mischief of two itinerant musicians.

Varispeed is a collective of composer-performers that creates site-specific, sometimes-participatory, oftentimes-durational, forevermore-experimental events. Founded by Aliza Simons, Dave Ruder, Paul Pinto, Brian McCorkle, and Gelsey Bell.


Open Territory


Musical innovators share their work in a combination of an interview. Including Max Neuhaus, Miles Davis, Christian Marclay, and more.