A Memorial for Milford Graves | Ars Nova Workshop
Menu Close Donate
Milford Graves: Fundamental Frequency

A Memorial for Milford Graves

December 5, 2021

Please join Ars Nova Workshop, with Artists Space (NYC) and the family of Milford Graves for a very special memorial celebrating Milford Graves’ life and work.

The memorial will be attended by the family and close friends of Milford Graves in person, and will be available to stream online for the general public, with performances and remarks from Hugh Glover, Tatiana Graves-Kochuthara, Shahzad Ismaily, Jake Meginsky, William Parker, Toshi Tsuchitori, Yara practitioners, John Zorn, and more.

Milford Graves

Born in Jamaica, Queens in 1941, Milford Graves was a force of interdisciplinary artistic and intellectual output during his nearly 60 year career; incorporating insights from his knowledge and experience in martial arts, herbalism, pedagogy, sculpture, and data sonification. Early recordings with The New York Art Quartet, Giuseppi Logan, and Paul Bley in the mid 1960s cemented his status as one of New York’s most talented percussionists and improvisers. Solo output included milestone free improvisation sessions with Don Pullen, Hugh Glover, and Andrew Cyrille. He performed on the landmark Black Woman by Sonny Sharrock, and alongside Albert Ayler during his mythical Coltrane funeral performance in 1967.

In 1973 Graves became a professor at Vermont’s Bennington College, where he taught for 39 years and became Professor Emeritus of the Black Music Division. Later work focused on the exploration of the music of the human heart, and the connections between music and medicine. When diagnosed with amyloid cardiomyopathy or “stiff heart syndrome” in 2018, his art and research provided pioneering insights.

Milford Graves’ talent and curiosity were seemingly inexhaustible, and his influence cannot be understated. He was the subject of critically acclaimed film Milford Graves: Full Mantis, and exhibits Milford Graves: A Mind Body Deal (ICA, Philadelphia) and Milford Graves: Fundamental Frequency (Artists Space, NYC).

Cover: Milford Graves at the Festival d'Automne à Paris, 1974, Black and white photograph. © Philippe Gras
Sunday, December 5


  • Mindfulness
  • Performance
  • Talks

Program Info

Free Admission
All Ages

Memorial Program

Download a copy of the printed memorial program. (PDF)




Lead Support for Milford Graves: Fundamental Frequency is provided by the Robert D. Bielecki Foundation.

Original support for Milford Graves: A Mind Body Deal at ICA Philadelphia was provided to Ars Nova Workshop by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Encore Presentation

December 5, 2021 — “Milford Graves Memorial,” livestream from Artists Space, New York City. (Vimeo)

October 8, 2021–January 15, 2022

Milford Graves: Fundamental Frequency

  • Exhibition

Milford Graves: Fundamental Frequency

Ars Nova Workshop, in collaboration Artists Space (NYC), presents a multiform retrospective exhibition and event series dedicated to the life and work of interdisciplinary artist and percussionist Milford Graves.