Lea Bertucci | Ars Nova Workshop
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Lea Bertucci

Of Shadow and Substance

May 8, 2022

Ars Nova Workshop is thrilled to present composer and sound artist Lea Bertucci, and the Philadelphia premiere performance of “Of Shadow and Substance,” a new piece commissioned by Ars Nova Workshop and written for an ensemble of double bass (Henry Fraser), cello (Lester St. Louis), harp (Lucia Stavros), percussion (Matt Evans) and tapes/electronics (Bertucci).

UPDATE (4/22/2022) — Composer, musician, and organizer Luke Stewart opens with “Freedom From Information,” a new piece from his “Works for Upright Bass and Amplifier” series.

“Molecules that shatter and break the waves. A cloud hangs low, hissing through the room. Textures of bow on bone and resonant percussion.”
— Lea Bertucci, on “Of Shadow and Substance”

“Of Shadow and Substance” is inspired by a massive explosion that occurred June 2019 in Philadelphia, at the largest oil-processing plant on the East Coast. The facility, until recently owned by Philadelphia Energy Solutions, is located in a densely populated section of the city, and occupies an area of more than two square miles. The impact of the plant’s long history in the area — environmentally, economically, and catastrophically — reaches back to 1905. This most recent fire resulted in a tremendous explosion ejecting shattered metal fragments in all directions. One such fragment weighing 38,000 lbs., approximately the size of a fully loaded Greyhound bus, was thrown into the air and across the nearby Schuylkill River before landing on the opposite side. “Of Shadow and Substance” meditates on the looming physical presence of these large structures juxtaposed with the insidious, unseen effects of microscopic toxins that collide with us and each other.

Lea Bertucci

Lea Bertucci is an artist, composer and performer whose work describes relationships between acoustic phenomena and biological resonance. In addition to her longstanding practice with woodwind instruments, her work incorporates multi-channel speaker arrays, radical methods of free improvisation and creative misuses of audio technology applied to field recording and sampling/collage techniques.

“One gets the sense that Bertucci arrives at her work not with an idea to impose, but a question to develop. The groundlessness of the music… can propel the listener somewhere new.”

In recent years, Bertucci’s projects have expanded toward site-specific and site-responsive sonic investigations of architecture and acoustics, most notably in 2018’s Acoustic Shadows, a suite of compositions and sound installation that took place as part of the Bruckenmusik Festival, inside the hollow body of the Deutzer bridge in Koln Germany. Her autodidactic and idiosyncratic approach to music is marked by dense masses of sustained dissonance and a fascination with the sonic substance of common experience through eccentric methods of field recording and collage. Tape manipulation and other creative recording techniques push the limits of the recorded medium to elicit a visceral sonic and emotional experience from the listener.

Luke Stewart

Luke Stewart is a force on the Washington DC scene not only as a performer (in Irreversible Entanglements, James Brandon Lewis Trio, Trio OOO, Ancestral Duo and more) but also as a booker, promoter, radio DJ and more.

“Works for Upright Bass and Amplifier” is a series of improvised structures in which Stewart plays with casting out nets of dynamic spaces through his physical movement language in interaction with the amplifier, creating a new way of playing the bass. Through investigation of the properties of space, he is able to interact with each unique environment to create an original experience. The act of movement is needed for the generation of feedback with the upright bass and amplifier. The result is something like a dance between the instruments and the musician.

Cover: Lea Bertucci performs during Ars Nova Workshop's 2019 October Revolution festival. Photo by Ryan Collerd.
Sunday, May 8


  • Performance

Program Info

$20 General Admission
All Ages


Of Shadow and Substance Ensemble

  • Lea Bertucci – tapes, electronics
  • Matt Evans – percussion
  • Henry Fraser – double bass
  • Lester St. Louis – cello
  • Lucia Stavros – harp

Luke Stewart

  • Luke Stewart – upright bass and amplifier


Benjamin Franklin Hall
Philadelphia, PA

Supported by

This program is made possible with the support of mediaThe foundation inc, The Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia, and New Music USA.

  • New Music USA

New Music USA

New Music USA is made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Helen F. Whitaker Fund, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc., Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Howard Gilman Foundation, Anonymous.