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was established in 2001 to present the best of international
contemporary music and to support the exploration of new methods in
concerts by premier artists in the world of creative music. In
addition, Nameless Sound artists work directly with students from
Houston’s public schools, community centers, and homeless shelters.
Nameless Sound’s educational work helps to nurture a new generation of
artists and inspire tomorrow’s creative thinkers.
to Jim Magee’s hill is one of the only art experiences, in any sort of
art, that always leaves me speechless. I think it has the same effect
on pretty much everyone. I played the very first concert there, and it
was without doubt one of the high musical experiences of my life."
Sound and The
Cornudas Mountain Foundation
present a rare site-specific event in the vast West Texas desert:
Minton and Audrey
The Hill of James Magee
Duo & El Paso Feral Choir
photo courtesy of the Cornudas Mountain Foundation
Saturday, May 4, 2019
(US/Berlin) - voice
The Feral Choir - TBA
The Cornudas Mountain Foundation and
present the fourth in their series of rare site-specific events at The Hill of James Magee, a
monumental work of art located in a vast expanse of West Texas’
Still in progress, Magee’s lifework is nearly 40 years in the making.
Located 70 miles East of El Paso on private land, The Hill is
confounding in its very existence. How did one man with no training as
an architect or engineer construct these forms, “off the grid”, out in
the middle of nowhere, and with only a single assistant? How did he get
these massive and fragile artworks of steel and glass to this location,
and installed in these buildings? A testament to a life of absolute
dedication, the Hill has a profoundly moving effect on the handful who
have encountered the unlikely aberration in this expansive
The Hill consists of four flat-roofed buildings, positioned at exact
cardinal points, standing 17-feet high on four 10-foot high platforms.
The buildings, platforms and connecting cruciform walkway are
constructed of the same shale rock. Each building has two sets of
towering iron doors extending the height of the structure. Identical on
the outside, each building contains distinct sculptural works within,
constructions of industrial intensity holding organic fragility.
Imposing steel frames unfold on massive hinges in several layers to
uncover glass enclosures. Within these mighty enclosures, strata of
shattered glass, rust, spice, textiles, flower petals, and other
textured and organic materials collage into ecstatic
This event presents a rare opportunity to visit the monumental yet very
personal site. But it’s also an opportunity to hear two very
extraordinary vocalists (and a locally sourced choir) perform in dialog
with the architecture, its enclosed sculptures, and the seemingly
endless landscape where they all reside.
It is thought by some that the immediacy of improvisation allows for a
more direct communication between performer and audience, an expression
unmediated and unhindered by predetermined compositional concerns. But
the instrument also mediates musical communication. And vocal
improvisation, without the shield or veil of an instrument, can seem
like the most direct and immediate of improvisational expressions.
Though abstract, wordless vocal improvisation can feel strangely
intimate. When sound and texture are emphasized over pitch and melody,
the sounds may be uncomfortably familiar. And though there may be no
words (and few melodies) to narrate meaning, we might find something
unexpectedly funny (in spite of the lack of humor) or poignantly sad
(in spite of the lack of pathos). Something may strike us as grotesque,
though no decorum has been offended. This is an art form that
emphasizes the immediacy of the body. For many vocal improvisers, it is
not only the voice that is employed. It’s the lips, tongue, cheeks and
throat as well. This is abstract sound made from the organs responsible
for our most direct and emotional communication.
Performing at The Hill will be two of the foremost practitioners of
this art form. Minton is one of the key pioneers of vocal
improvisation. Beginning his career as a jazz trumpet player, his
reputation as a vocalist emerged during London’s groundbreaking and
influential free improvisation scene of the 1960’s. Classically
trained on cello and voice, Audrey Chen began her improvisational
practice among Baltimore’s vibrant Red Room/High Zero scene of the
early aughts. Her global appearances and collaborations have
established her as one of the important experimental voices of the
In addition to the duo of Minton and Chen, there will be a performance
by a locally sourced Feral Choir under Minton’s direction. Phil
Minton’s Feral Choirs are improvisational ensembles that often consist
of people who have never before performed as vocalists. It works on a
principle that “anyone who can breathe, is capable of producing sounds
that give a positive aesthetic contribution to the human condition and
many of these contributions are without any cultural influences or
For information about James Magee, The Hill, and The Cornudas Mountain Foundation:
For information about Phil Minton:
For information about Audrey Chen:
INSTRUCTIONS FOR YOUR VISIT:
The Hill is on private land, near Cornudas Texas, 70 miles East of El Paso.
We will check-in all
guests at Ranch Road 2317 from 2p.m. to 2:30 p.m. You can park on the
side of the road. Check-in is mandatory. After you check in,
shuttles will be available to take you to the Hill from 2pm to 2:30pm.
You are also welcome to walk to the Hill from this point, which is
approximately two miles away. If walking, please allow time to get to
the site by 3pm. Please be on time, as we won't be able to admit anyone
once we close the check-in.
Please note that The
Hill is on Mountain Standard Time (one hour behind Houston, San
Antonio, Dallas, Austin, etc.). Phone service cannot be relied
on, but sometimes a signal is possible. If you get lost, feel free to
call 713-248-3927. We will have this cell on, but cannot guarantee
and footwear, as well as a hat and sunscreen are
There will be restroom facilities near the parking area, and up on the site.
May’s Cafe in Cornudas will be serving food and beverages before and after the event.
This concert will happen, rain or shine.
Cameras and recording equipment are not permitted.
Here is Google Maps link for Cornudas, Texas.
To get to the Hill from El Paso:
Travel East on Highway 180. The turn-off for The Hill is Ranch Rd. 2317 off of Highway 180.
This turn-off is 26 miles past the U.S. border checkpoint. The exit is on the right. We will have a small sign posted.
If you pass May's Cafe on the left on 180, you've gone too far.
Parking will be below the site, along the left side of Ranch Rd. 2317.
For questions please
contact Nameless Sound by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or
by phone at 713-928-5653. If calling on the day of (or the day before)
the event, please call 713-248-3927.