November 24, 2016 - The Glass House - Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto reunite at the Glass House
e-flux Architecture
November 24, 2016
November 24, 2016

The Glass House

Images courtesy The Glass House.

Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto reunite at the Glass House

The Glass House
199 Elm Street
New Canaan, Connecticut 06840

Renowned composer, musician, and artist Ryuichi Sakamoto reunited with creative partner Carsten Nicolai, who performs as Alva Noto, for a private performance for a small group of their friends at the Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. This intimate evening brought the artists together, who had not collaborated live since Sakamoto’s cancer diagnosis and treatment in 2014, to experiment and to create a new work. The haunting soundscape created by Sakamoto and Nicolai at the Glass House is captured in film by Derrick Belcham.

To view the film, visit our website.

The emotional drama of the 45-minute performance was echoed in the natural environment. A sudden rain storm that forced the evening’s guests into the Glass House at the start of the performance, cleared into an intense red and pink sunset, concluding in nightfall.

Rehearsing only one day before, Sakamoto and Nicolai experimented with a keyboard, mixers, singing glass bowls, crotales, and the architecture of the Glass House. Contact microphones were attached to the surface of the Glass House, and using his fingertips and palms, as well as various weighted gong mallets with rubber heads that were gently but firmly dragged along the surface of the glass, Sakamoto transformed the Glass House into an instrument, creating wistful sounds of contemplation, hope, and longing. Similarly, Nicolai played two sets of high and low octave crotales with a horse hair bow. The pair improvised in what could be described as an intuitive call and response manner. Both Sakamoto and Nicolai intentionally and masterfully played up the inherently resonant quality of glass, and the entire structure reverberated with sound. 

The performance was organized by Irene Shum, inaugural Curator and Collections Manager of the Glass House. “The evening was a celebration of art and friendship. The Glass House was pleased to reunite Sakamoto and Nicolai, to momentarily be the locus of their creativity. Their innovative use the house as an instrument expands how we perceive and experience architecture. This creative endeavor is the realization of the Glass House’s highest aspiration to be a site where artists are free to experiment and create, thus continuing the rich legacy of art patronage of the original occupants, Philip Johnson and David Whitney.” 

Artist Carsten Nicolai explores the intersection between art, science, and sound. Born in 1965 in Karl-Marx Stadt (now Chemnitz) in former East Germany and currently based in Berlin, Nicolai studied architecture and landscape design at the University of Technology, Dresden. In 1996, he founded music label raster-noton. archiv für ton und nichtton. with Olaf Bender and Frank Bretschneider, and in 2000 adopted the pseudonym Alva Noto to distinguish his growing body of audio work from his visual artwork. 

Musician, composer, actor, artist and environmental activist Ryuichi Sakamoto was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1952 and has been based in New York City since 1990. Sakamoto studied music composition and ethnomusicology at the Tokyo University of the Arts. He pioneered electronic music as a founding member of Yellow Magic Orchestra with Haruomi Hosono and Yukihiro Takahashi, then expanded into other musical genres in his solo career. He is the recipient of numerous awards including Academy, Golden Globe, Grammy, and BAFTA for Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983), The Last Emperor (1987) and Sheltering Sky (1990). Sakamoto is currently working on his first solo studio album since out of noise (2009). 

Nicolai and Sakamoto have collaborated together since 2002, releasing six albums together. Their first album, Vrioon (2002) was voted electronica album of the year by Wire magazine in 2004. Most recently, with Bryce Dessner, they scored the music for Alejandro González Iñárritu’s film, The Revenant (2015). 

The Glass House, built between 1949 and 1995 by architect Philip Johnson, is a National Trust Historic Site. For more information, please visit

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a private nonprofit organization that works to save America’s historic places to enrich our future, reimagining historic sites for the 21st century.

For additional information: Christa Carr, Director of Communications
T 203 275 7565 / ccarr [​at​]

The Glass House
Share - Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto reunite at the Glass House
  • Share