You are here: American University Arts Workers Union: The Music of Louis Andriessen

Workers Union:
The Music of Louis AndriessenAU Workshop | Online | April 9, 7:30

Get Tickets

Director's Note
Noah Getz

This evening’s concert celebrates the music of Louis Andriessen, a highly innovative contemporary composer known for his individualism, political activism, and creativity. He is considered the most important living composer from the Netherlands.

Workers Union

Workers Union was written in 1975 at a time when Andriessen was engaged in 1970s counterculture and Marxist politics. While this piece belonged to the aesthetic ideals of minimalism, it was different in several important and innovative ways. First of all, it required every player to play the same rhythm throughout but only provided a general contour for note choice. Secondly, the piece was written for any combination of loud sounding instruments which was in keeping with the composer’s desire to avoid standard instrumental combinations. Finally, this work had a specific political subtext that was rarely expressed by other early minimalist composers. Andriessen states that “This piece is a combination of individual freedom and severe discipline: its rhythm is exactly fixed; the pitch, on the other hand, is indicated only approximately, on a single-lined stave. It is difficult to play in an ensemble and to remain in step, sort of like organizing and carrying on political action.”The video we created to accompany Workers Union speaks to the complex issues facing workers during the pandemic by showing our own multi-use work spaces.


A lot of Andriessen’s music makes reference to jazz. He expresses this in a number of ways including direct quotation from famous jazz solos to more subtle forms like instrumentation. Songlines was written for three saxophones and optional percussion. This three movement work uses jazz rhythm, articulation, and instrumentation within a minimalist music framework. This evening, the Workshop will perform the second movement which begins with a minimalist rhythmic groove that is rooted in a jazz style. The movement quickly moves into more complex meters and a slow sustained section before returning to an uptempo bebop like section.


Ornithology, written by Charlie Parker, is based on the chord changes to How High The Moon. This process of composing a new piece over existing chord changes was common during the early years of bebop when the fledgling musical style needed more music and the players were inclined to use chord changes that they already knew which enabled them to play virtuosic solos with musical progressions that were familiar. Since chord changes are not subject to copyright, these new works became the backbone to an entire repertoire of pieces that could be played and recorded without restriction. Andriessen used quotes from the melody and recorded improvisation of Parker’s Ornithology as the musical basis for a work that he wrote for amplified string quartet entitled Facing Death.

Rotation IV

Eric Sammut’s Four Rotations have become some of the most frequently performed works for solo marimba. This arrangement of Rotation IV from this series of pieces was arranged for marimba solo and string quintet. In this arrangement, the consistent sixteenth notes in the marimba solo part are contrasted by a slower harmonic line in the strings. This piece was included on our program to showcase Austin Bartola, an outstanding senior percussionist that has participated in the Workshop since his freshman year.

Workers Union: The Music of Louis Andriessen AU Workshop. April 9, 7:30 p.m. ET

Workshop Members

  • Director: Dr. Noah Getz
  • Violin: Caroline Cascio
  • Violin: Potter Clark
  • Viola: Tiana Taylor
  • Cello: Bobo Liang
  • Clarinet: Martin Hindel
  • Alto and Tenor Saxophones: Jacob Niederman
  • Alto Saxophone: Grant Wayne
  • Baritone Saxophone: Sophia Solano
  • Guitar: Matthew Templeton
  • Piano: Bradley Cohen
  • Bass: Sean Doyle
  • Percussion: Austin Bartola

Production Staff

  • Operations Manager: Lisa Barr
  • Technical Coordinator: Wyatt BalaEddy
  • Production & Events Coordinator: Mike Burgtorf
  • Technical Coordinator & Streaming Engineer: Daniel Erickson
  • Director of Video Production: Dan Frick
  • Asst. Sound Editor: Matthew Jefferis
  • Marketing & Communications: Ashon Mask
  • Patron Services & Events Coordinator: Samuel Megill

Director Biography

Hailed as a “highly skillful and an even more highly adventurous player” (Washington City Paper) with “virtuosity, sensitivity, and beauty of tone” (Fanfare), Noah Getz has performed and lectured worldwide, including appearances at the Melbourne Recital Centre, Carnegie Hall, The Royal Conservatory of Brussels, The Polish Woodwind Festival, the Degollado Theater in Guadalajara, Mexico, and Zero Point Festival in Prague, Czech Republic. His premiere of in every way I remember you at the National Gallery of Art was acclaimed as “spectacular and wonderfully provocative” (Washington Post). In 2020, he performed as part of the UNAB Cultural Extension online series which was live-streamed from Santiago, Chile.

An avid chamber musician, Getz has performed with the National Gallery New Music Ensemble, the Zohn Collective, The 21st Century Consort, PostClassical Ensemble, the Empyrean Ensemble, and members of the International Contemporary Ensemble. He received a first-round Grammy nomination with the New Hudson Saxophone Quartet. He has performed frequently with orchestras throughout the country including The New World Symphony, Juilliard Orchestra, Manhattan School of Music Orchestra, Oberlin Orchestra, and the Harrisburg Symphony. His concerto performance of Ode to Lord Buckley is featured in the movie David Amram: The First 80 Years.

Getz’s albums Crosscurrents, exploring the intersection of jazz and classical music, and Still Life were released to rave reviews and are available through Albany Records. He has also been featured on Ricardo Zohn Muldoon’s Songtree, Amy William’s Cineshape and Duos and Fernando Benadon’s delight/delirium. In 2020, he released The Salon Sessions with clarinetist Robert DiLutis, and From Bach’s Menagerie on Innova Recording’s Henry Brant Centenary Archives. He is a Musician-In-Residence at American University in Washington, DC.