“A daring and unique musical spectacle…Dessner’s well-crafted music deftly unites text and image. Triptych is Dessner’s most arresting and provocative work to date; the musical lines reveal the symbolic subtleties that the show explores.”  – San Francisco Chronicle
“A remarkable achievement – sleek, engrossing…Director Kaneza Schaal stages the piece with a keenly alert sense of how to fit all the jigsaw pieces together…a calm, almost effortless virtuosity…Dessner has crafted a score of striking versatility and expressive power…sends the audience out of the hall in a jumble of emotion and faith.”  – Boston Classical Voice
“Dessner has proven himself capable of intensity and innovation…Isaiah Robinson, a simmering force of a tenor with a falsetto to die for, lined out a keening hymn while vocal band Roomful of Teeth backed him up with haunting, laser-precise harmonies. Singing a velvety spiritual, Alicia Hall Moran wielded her mezzo voice like a knife made of rose petals.”  – The Boston Globe
“Taps into liminality by combining multiple mediums to create a sensory experience of sound, sight and pure emotion…Complex stories demand complex performances, and the construction of “Triptych” pushed the boundaries of sight and sound to explore Mapplethorpe and his subjects.” – Daily Californian
“A radical new work…there was no singular emotional direction a work of this scope could portray, and composer Bryce Dessner fluidly swept us from the awe-inspiring cathedral, to the cold and calculating courtroom, to the intimate bedroom with a score that surged with electricity, sparkling clarity, and biting poignancy.” – artseen
“Witty and wicked…forbidding and seductive…The language is stylized and extravagantly poetic, matching the photographs’ explicit sexual content while meeting their cool elegance with punk Romanticism. – The New York Times
“A re-examination and an exaltation of the photographer’s enduring imagery, with its classical beauty and raw eroticism. – ArtNews
“Dessner’s music was melodically involving and wonderfully performed…like ghostly mournful cries, which underscored the serious intent…two thrilling soloists…not just about Mapplethorpe’s legacy but also a statement about how we suspiciously live in America.” – CityBeat
“Beautifully crafted and performed – San Francisco Classical Voice
“What came through most clearly – often thrillingly – was the score…Gorgeous vocal sound for its own sake…Moran delivered the goods with authority…My overall impression was one of the sheer joy of singing.” –  Classical Voice North America
“Dessner personifies what appears to be a generational shift in musicians. – The Washington Post
“A man who slips in and out of musical guises with disarming ease…this is gorgeous and full-hearted music.” – NPR


Bryce Dessner is one of the most sought-after composers of his generation, with a rapidly expanding catalogue of works commissioned by leading ensembles across the world.  A curator and vital force in the flourishing realm of new creative music, Bryce is known to many as a guitarist with The National. Dessner’s orchestral, chamber, and vocal compositions have been commissioned by the likes of Los Angeles Philharmonic, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Metropolitan Museum of Art (for the New York Philharmonic), Kronos Quartet, BAM Next Wave Festival, Barbican Centre, Edinburgh International Festival, Carnegie Hall, Sydney Festival, eighth blackbird, Sō Percussion, New York City Ballet, and many others. He collaborates across art forms with some of the world’s most creative and respected artists, including Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Alejandro Iñarritú, Paul Simon, Sufjan Stevens, Caroline Shaw, Johnny Greenwood,Bon Iver, Justin Peck, Ragnar Kjartansson, Jennifer Koh, Kelley O’Connor and Nico Muhly.Dessner’s work Murder Ballads, featured on eighth blackbird’s album Filament won the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance. He also co-wrote the score, along with Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto – and was Grammy and Golden Globe nominated – for Alejandro Iñárritu’s Oscar Award-winning film,The Revenant. Aheym, commissioned in 2009 by Kronos Quartet, served as the centerpiece of a 2013 Kronos disc devoted to Dessner’s music on the Anti- label. St. Carolyn by the Sea followed in 2014 on Deutsche Grammophon, featuring the lyrical title work and two other Dessner compositions performed by the Copenhagen Philharmonic under Andre de Ridder. May 2015 marked the release on Brassland of Music for Wood and Strings, an album-length work performed by Sō Percussion on custom-built “Chord Sticks” that lend a shimmering, hammer dulcimer-like quality. In 2015, MusicNOW, the Cincinnati-based contemporary music festival he founded celebrated its tenth anniversary. He is also co-curator of HAVEN, Copenhagen’s annual festival ‘for the senses, merging experiments in art, music, beer and food’ which launched in 2017 and PEOPLE, which launched officially in Berlin in 2018. Other recent notable projects include Quilting, a 17-minute score co-commissioned with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and The Most Incredible Thing, a ballet created by Dessner, Justin Peck and Marcel Dzama, and Dessner’sConcerto for Two Pianos, written for Katia and Marielle Labèque, recerntly released by Deustche. Further commissions include: Voy a Dormir (2018) written for mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor and St. Luke’s Orchestra; Skrik Trio, commissioned by Steve Reich and Carnegie Hall for the Three Generations Series; No Tomorrow(a ballet by Ragnar Kjartansson, Margrét Bjarnadóttir and Bryce Dessner) winner of Iceland’s Griman Award;and the soundtrack for Death of Marsha P. Johnson,the Netflix documentary about the LGBT rights activist. Dessner earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Yale University and resides in Paris.

korde arrington tuttle (Librettist)is a multi-disciplinary artist from Charlotte, NC. He is writer for the forthcoming series Mixtape (Netflix) and THEM: Covenant (Amazon). He is a recipient of New York Stage and Film’s 2018 Founders’ Award, 2018 Falco/Steinman Commission Award at Playwrights Horizons, 2018 Playwrights Initiative Fellowship at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program + was selected as a finalist for both the 2017 Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Contest + City Theatre National Award for Short Playwriting Contest. Korde is a playwright-in-residence at Lincoln Center Theater, Resident Artist at Ars Nova, and Middle Voice Theatre Company member at Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre. His debut collection of haiku + photography, falling is the one thing i, was published by Candor Arts, in May 2018. Korde completed his undergraduate studies at UNC Chapel Hill and received his MFA in Playwriting at The New School. Follow his work on Instagram via @heykorde.

Robert Mapplethorpe was born in 1946 in Floral Park, Queens. In 1963, Mapplethorpe enrolled at Pratt Institute in nearby Brooklyn, where he studied drawing, painting, and sculpture. He also experimented with mixed-media collages, using images cut from books and magazines. He was gifted a Polaroid camera in 1970 and began producing his own photographs to incorporate into the collages. In 1975, he acquired a Hasselblad camera and began photographing his circle of friends and acquaintances—artists, musicians, celebrities, and the S & M underground.

Throughout the 1980s, Mapplethorpe produced images that simultaneously challenged and adhered to classical aesthetic standards: stylized compositions of male and female nudes, delicate flower still-life’s, and studio portraits of artists and celebrities. He introduced and refined different techniques and formats, including, photogravures, platinum prints on paper and linen, Cibachrome and dye transfer color prints.

In 1986, he was diagnosed with AIDS. Despite his illness, he accelerated his creative efforts, broadened the scope of his photographic inquiry, and accepted increasingly challenging commissions. The Whitney Museum of American Art mounted his first major American museum retrospective in 1988, one year before his death in 1989.

His vast, provocative, and powerful body of work has established him as one of the most important artists of the twentieth century. Today Mapplethorpe is represented by galleries in the Americas and Europe and his work can be found in the collections of major museums around the world. Beyond the art historical and social significance of his work, his legacy lives on through the work of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. He established the Foundation in 1988 to promote photography, support museums that exhibit photographic art, and to fund medical research in the fight against AIDS and HIV.

Essex Hemphill (1957–1995) was a poet, activist, journalist, and performer whose first collections of poems were the self-published chapbooks Earth Life (1985) and Conditions(1986). His first full-length collection, Ceremonies: Prose and Poetry (1992), won the National Library Association’s Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual New Author Award. His work is included in the anthologies Gay and Lesbian Poetry in Our Time (1986) and Life Sentences: Writers, Artists, and AIDS (1993). Hemphill studied English at the University of Maryland; in 1978, with a fellow student, he helped found and run the Nethula Journal of Contemporary Literature. His later editing credits include the anthology Brother to Brother: New Writing by Black Gay Men (1991), which won the Lambda Literary Award. In 1983, Hemphill participated in the performance poetry group Cinque with Wayson Jones and Larry Duckette; their work was later featured in the documentaries Tongues Untied (1989) and Black Is…Black Ain’t (1994). Hemphill’s poetry was also included in the film Looking for Langston (1989). Known for his political edge, Hemphill openly addressed race, identity, sexuality, HIV/AIDS, and the family in his work, voicing issues central to the African American gay community. His aversion to the work of Robert Mapplethorpe and criticism of the art world’s embracing of his work were well-known and articulated in his seminal essay “Does Your Mama Know About Me?” “What is insulting and endangering to Black men,” he wrote, “is Mapplethorpe’s conscious determination that the faces, the heads, and by extension, the minds and experiences of some of his Black subjects are not as important as close-up shots of their cocks.” Hemphill received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and grants from the Pew Charitable Trust Fellowship in the Arts and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He was a visiting scholar at the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities in 1993 in Santa Monica, California. Hemphill died of complications from AIDS in 1995.

Patti Smith, in full Patti Lee Smith, (born December 30, 1946, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.), American poet, rock songwriter, and singer. Growing up in New Jersey, Smith won an art scholarship to Glassboro State Teachers College. In 1967, she moved to New York City, where she became active in the downtown Manhattan arts scene, writing poetry and living with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Her performance-driven poetry readings soon took on a musical component, and from 1971 she worked regularly with the guitarist and critic Lenny Kaye. By 1973, they had formed a band and began performing widely in the downtown club scene. Smith’s mesmeric charisma, chantlike but hoarsely compelling musical declamation, visionary texts, and simple but ingenious rock music won her an intense cult following.

Signed to a contract with Arista Records, she released her first album, Horses, in 1975; it was produced by John Cale, the Welsh avant-gardist and cofounder (with Lou Reed) of the Velvet Underground. After Radio Ethiopia(1976) she released her most commercially successful album, Easter, in 1978. It included a hit single, “Because the Night,” written with Bruce Springsteen. Following the album Wavein 1979, Smith disbanded her group and retired to Detroit, Michigan, where she raised a family with Fred (“Sonic”) Smith, founder of the band MC5.

In 2010, Smith published the memoir Just Kids, which focused on her relationship with Mapplethorpe. The critically acclaimed work won the National Book Award for nonfiction. Another memoir—M Train, which chronicles her travels and other experiences—was published in 2015. Two years later, she released Devotion, an installment in Yale University Press’s Why I Write series. In 2016, Smith accepted Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize for Literature on his behalf. A pioneer in the fusion of the bohemian sensibility with rock, she was able to translate the incantatory power of Beat writers such as Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs into the rock mainstream. In 2007, Smith was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. France’s Ministry of Culture named her Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2005, and she was awarded the Polar Music Prize for her contributions to music and art by the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 2011.

The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation was established by the artist in 1988, a year before his death. In determining the Foundation’s philanthropic mandate, Mapplethorpe targeted the two areas of his greatest concern: support of medical research in the area of HIV/AIDS, and the promotion of photography as a fine art form deserving the same prominence as painting and sculpture.

In keeping with its founder’s wishes, the Mapplethorpe Foundation has given millions of dollars to fund medical research in the fight against AIDS and HIV by establishing research and care centers at major medical facilities such as Harvard University and Beth Israel in New York. It has also supported the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) and the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA) among others.

In the field of photography, the Foundation has funded publications, supported exhibitions and acquisitions and provided grants, in the form of funding or gifts of original Mapplethorpe works, to art institutions ranging from the world’s major art museums to small university galleries. In 1993, the Foundation provided a major gift to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to create the Robert Mapplethorpe Gallery and inaugurate the Guggenheim’s photography department and program.

In 2011, the Foundation made a gift to and facilitated an acquisition by the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) of over 2,000 works of art by the artist, and the most extensive archive of his career will reside at the Getty Research Institute.

In addition to its charitable work, the Foundation maintains Mapplethorpe’s artistic legacy by organizing and/or lending to exhibitions around the world, preserving its collection of Mapplethorpe artworks, strictly maintaining the editions he established and placing his work in important collections.


Composed by Bryce Dessner
Libretto by korde arrington tuttle, Featuring the Words of Patti Smith & Essex Hemphill
Directed by Kaneza Schaal
Featuring Roomful of Teeth
Music Direction & Conducting by Brad Wells
Set & Costume Design by Carlos Soto
Lighting Design by Yuki Nakase
Video by Simon Harding
Associate Director Jennifer Newman & Lilleth Glimcher
Associate Music Director  William Brittelle
Dramaturgy by Talvin Wilks & Christopher Myers

Produced by ArKtype / Thomas O. Kriegsmann
In Cooperation with The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

World Premieres:
March 5, 2019 – LA Phil (Concert Premiere)
March 15-16, 2019 – University Musical Society, Ann Arbor, MI (World Premiere)

Robert Mapplethorpe shook the world with his striking images of S/M, still lifes and Black and interracial subjects –  thrusting the artist into the national eye within the unfolding drama of culture wars and obscenity trials. Thirty years after his death we still cannot turn away. Inspired by Mapplethorpe’s challenge of the ideals of artistic expression, human sexuality, and public decency, Bryce Dessner, one of the most sought-after contemporary composers of his generation, has set an original and soaring oratorio. This genre-melding theatrical event also features the poetry of Essex Hemphill, a poet, and activist working at the forefront of Black, Gay liberation throughout the 1980s and 90s and poet and muse Patti Smith. Filtered through the lens of a uniquely intergenerational and cross-cultural team of visionary artists including Librettist Korde Arrington Tuttle, Director Kaneza Schaal and Designer Carlos Soto in collaboration with the renowned vocal ensemble, Roomful of Teeth, Triptych (Eyes of One on Another) is an unblinking, present-day meditation on images that reject being relegated to the past. This multi-disciplinary mash-up of photography, music, and poetry asks us to reconsider what it is to see and be seen, putting the audience inside the artist’s viewfinder, to witness Mapplethorpe’s beautiful, bold, voracious interpretation of how nature and humans look, touch, feel, hurt and love one another.

Produced in Residency with and Commissioned by University Musical Society, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Co-produced by Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel Music and Artistic Director. TRIPTYCH was co-commissioned by BAM; Luminato Festival, Toronto, Canada; Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, Athens, Greece; Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati, OH; Cal Performances, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA; Stanford Live, Stanford University, Stanford, CA; Adelaide Festival, Australia; John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for performance as part of DirectCurrent 2019; ArtsEmerson: World on Stage, Emerson College, Boston, MA; Texas Performing Arts, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX; Holland Festival, Amsterdam; Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH; the Momentary, Bentonville, AR, Celebrity Series, Boston, MA, and residency development through MassMOCA, North Adams, MA.


Artist Press Kit
Artist website


Triptych (Eyes of One On Another)

March 5, 2019 LA Phil, Disney Hall, Los Angeles, CA (CONCERT PREMIERE)
March 15-16, 2019 University Musical Society, Power Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (WORLD PREMIERE)
March 22, 2019 – Big Ears Festival, Knoxville, TN
April 6, 2019 – Direct Current, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington DC
June 6-8, 2019 Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, NY
June 18-19, 2019 Holland Festival, Amsterdam, NL
June 26, 2019 Summer Nostros Festival, Athens, GR
September 20, 2019 Texas Performing Arts, UT Austin, TX
September 28, 2019 CalPerformances, UC Berkley, CA
October 3, 2019 Stanford Live, Stanford, CA
October 9, 2019 The Moore Theatre, Seattle Theatre Group, Seattle WA
October 30 – November 3, 2019 ArtsEmerson, Boston, MA
April 14, 2020 Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH

Plus more to be announced soon!

Worldwide Touring 2019-2021 OPEN