Saul Williams, Patricia McGregor, and Ted Hearne

Saul Williams, Patricia McGregor, and Ted Hearne

Created with poet/librettist Saul Williams and director Patricia McGregorPlace is an 80-minute staged oratorio scored for 18 instrumentalists and 6 singers considering the topic of gentrification. Co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Barbican Centre and Beth Morrison Projects, Place was premiered at Brooklyn Academy of Music in October 2018

Set designer Sanford Biggers spray paints a quilt for the premiere at the BAM Harvey Theater

Set designer Sanford Biggers spray paints a quilt for the premiere at the BAM Harvey Theater

Director Patricia McGregor asks you (yes, you): Has gentrification been a protagonist or antagonist in your life? Why and how?

Place began with Ted Hearne addressing the intersections of privilege and appropriation in his own life and work, weighing a personal sense of place and space in the most immediate family relationships against the inherited and generational

How is whiteness a learned performance?

Saul Williams calls Place a fiery meditation on gentrification. Ted’s opening libretto was a volley to Saul, who responded to Ted’s words - complicating, expanding, implicating, addressing and redressing Ted’s narrow view, to consider the experiences of others across the street, across the globe and across time.

“You realize your inability to face these things may drive me crazy? Do you realize that it may have already driven you crazy?”

Ted wrote Place to be sung by specific people he grew up singing with in Chicago - Josephine, Isaiah - and by individuals he encountered in different musical contexts later in life - Ayanna, Steven, Sol, Sophia. Music was, at times, its own may that cut through the boundaries of streets he otherwise would not have crossed. The 18 instrumentalists come from different places too - RC and Braylon play with R&B and hiphop artists, Philip plays solo noise sets, Matt and Diana play with orchestras - and the adjacency and overlay of their individual relationships to music is another kind of map.

While the piece was drawn from a matrix of specific collaborators, there are no static characters here. The singers are at once themselves and shifting, situational archetypes in an ongoing conversation that dissolves, complicates and refreshes characters through poems set to music.

Through this process, our focus has shifted to DISplaceMENT. While workshopping the piece at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA, we were aware that we were only a couple of blocks from tent cities, and that we were standing on ground that had been home to Tongva people long before. Where had/have those displaced people and their descendants found to make a new home?

How fitting that we premiere the piece at BAM. Fort Greene has played a major role in all three of our lives. When we walk out of the Harvey doors after the performance, we will encounter a landscape that has changed drastically in the last couple of decades. If that change is for better or worse, why and for whom, is for you to decide.

Patricia McGregor
Ted Hearne
Saul Williams


ensemble 18 instruments and 6 singers
duration 80 minutes
libretto by Saul Williams and Ted Hearne
directed and co-conceived by Patricia McGregor
scenic design by Sanford Biggers
video design by Tim Brown
lighting design by Pablo Santiago
commissioned by the LA Philharmonic, The Barbican Centre, and Beth Morrison Projects
premiere October 2018 at Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival

Stephen Bradshaw
Josephine Lee
Isaiah Robinson
Sol Ruiz
Sophia Byrd
Ayanna Woods

Braylon Lacy , electric bass
Taylor Levine, electric guitar
Philip White, live electronics
RC Williams, keyboard
Ron Wiltrout, drums

Diana Wade, Nate Schramm, Erin Wight, violas
Ashley Bathgate, Melody Giron, John Popham, cellos
Christa van Alstine, bass clarinet/contrabass clarinet
Eileen Mack, bass clarinet/clarinet
Jacob Garchik and Matt Wright, trombones
Gareth Flowers, trumpet
Rachel Drehmann, french horn
Clara Warnaar, percussion

Ayanna Woods and Ted Hearne

Ayanna Woods and Ted Hearne



Place (2018, 80 min.)
18 instruments, 6 voices
Sound from the Bench (2014/2017, 40 min.)
mixed choir with 2 electric guitars and percussion
Coloring Book (for Roomful of Teeth) (2015, 30 min.)
vocal octet
The Source (2014, 65 min.)
7 instruments, 4 voices
Partition (2010, 20 min.)
mixed choir with full orchestra
Katrina Ballads (2007, 60 min.)
11 instruments, 5 voices


Brass Tacks (2018, 6 min.)
large orchestra
Miami in Movements (2017, 35 min.)
large orchestra with video
Dispatches (2015, 18 min.)
large orchestra
Respirator (2015, 13 min.)
chamber orchestra
Stem (2013, 25 min.)
large orchestra
Law of Mosaics (2012, 30 min.)
string orchestra
Erasure Scherzo (2012, 6 min.)
large orchestra
Word for Word (2011, 10 min.)
large orchestra
Shizz (2010/2017, 4 min.)
versions for large orchestra and chamber orchestra
Build a Room (2010, 20 min.)
concerto for trumpet and orchestra
Patriot (2007, 9 min.)
large orchestra


DaVZ23BzMH0 (2016, 7 min.)
solo cello, with electronics
Parlor Diplomacy (2011, 20 min.)
solo piano
Nobody's (2010, 4 min.)
solo violin


(2-5 instruments)

Exposure (2017, 18 min.)
string quartet
To Be the Thing (2017, 10 min.)
voice, electric guitar and percussion, with live electronics
The Answer to the Question That Wings Ask (2016, 11 min.)
string quartet and narrator
Furtive Movements (2013, 14 min.)
cello and percussion
Interlude for Fingers (2013, 4 min.)
two vibraphones
Candy (2011, 8 min.)
electric guitar quartet
Thaw (2009, 12 min.)
percussion quartet
Ghostspace (2009, 8 min.)
mixed quartet (accordion, electric guitar, piano, drums)
Vessels (2008, 10 min.)
trio (violin, viola, piano)
Crib Dweller (2007, 8 min.)
mixed quintet (bass clarinet, elec. guitar, trumpet, trombone, horn)
23 (2005, 8 min.)
mixed quintet (flute, horn, elec. guitar, piano, drums)
Warning Song (2006, 7 min.)
voice and cello, with electronics
One of Us, One of Them (2005, 8 min.)
piano and percussion
Forcefield (2004, 5 min.)
viola and vibraphone

(6-13 instruments)

One Like (2016, 7 min.)
14 musicians
For the Love of Charles Mingus (2016, 9 min.)
6 violins
Baby [an argument] (2016, 11 min.)
10 musicians
By-By Huey (2014, 10 min.)
sextet (fl, bcl, vln, vc, pno, perc)
"The Cage" Variations (2014, 20 min.)
6 instruments (fl, cl/bcl, vln, vc, pno, perc) with baritone solo
Crispy Gentlemen (2012, 15 min.)
7 instruments (fl/picc, cl/bcl, vln, vla, vc, pno, perc)
But I Voted for Shirley Chisholm (2012, 8 min.)
11 instruments+tape
Randos (2012, 8 min.)
7 instruments (L'Histoire septet)
Cutest Little Arbitrage (2011, 12 min.)
6 instruments (2 sax, trombone + rhythm section)
Is it Dirty (2010, 8 min.)
16 instruments with 2 singers
versions for 10 instruments and 6 instruments
Eyelid Margin (2009, 12 min.)
10 instruments (brass quintet + 5 double-reeds)
Snowball (2008, 6 min.)
8 instruments (bcl, tpt, tbn, vln, acc, egtr, pno, dr)
version for 7 instruments (bcl, bn, tpt, tbn, vln, db, perc)
Illuminating the Maze (2008/2016, 15 min.)
6 instruments (tpt, hn, tbn, egtr, pno, dr)
version for 11 instruments
Music from "Body Soldiers" (2008, 10 min.)
5 instruments + singer
Cordavi and Fig (2007, 8 min.)
13 instruments
Antiphon (2003, 8 min.)
9 instruments (3 cl, bcl, 3 tpt, tbn, pno)


Animals (2018, 9 min.)
Fervor (2018, 3 min.)
What it might say (2016, 5 min.)
Coloring Book (2015, 30 min.)
Consent (2014, 7 min.)
Ripple (2012, 10 min.)
Privilege (2009, 14 min.)
Mass for St. Mary’s (2008, 10 min.)

Music for youth choir:
Room for Something (2011, 8 min.)
Away (2010, 6 min.)
Because (2006, 6 min.)
Murder on the Road in Alabama (2003, 6 min.)


Like Glass (Dorothea Lasky songs) (2017-19)
voice and ensemble; versions for voice and piano
To Be the Thing (2017, 10 min.)
voice, electric guitar and percussion, with live electronics
Intimacy and Resistance (2010, 5 min.)
voice and piano
Charleston Songbook (2008, 20 min.)
voice and piano w/ lead sheets
I Remember (2007, 8 min.)
for three sopranos, or one soprano with electronics
I Carry Your Heart (2007, 5 min.)
voice and piano
Warning Song (2006, 7 min.)
voice and cello, with electronics


We Are Radios (2018)
Miami in Movements (2017)
The Answer to the Question That Wings Ask (2016,)
Hand Eye (2015)
New Dances for the League of David (2014) 
You're Causing Quite a Disturbance (2013)
R WE WHO R WE (2013)
Histories (2012)