An immersive music and visual work for vocalist, electric guitar orchestra, and live ambisonic sound.

Carla Kihlstedt — composer/vocalist
Rafael Osés — librettist/artist
JohnPaul Beattie — ambisonic sound designer
Andromache Chalfant — visual director
Lucrecia Briceno — lighting designer
Gooby Herms — animator
Adrian D. Cameron — projectionist
Jascha Narveson — technical engineer
Sruly Lazaros — executive producer

Dither's Big Band: Greg Chudzik, Stephen Griesgraber, Taylor Levine, James Moore, Brendon Randall-Myers, Brandon Ross, Geremy Schulick, Kenji Shinagawa

Commissioned by Dither and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts with support from The Augustine Foundation.

Work in Progress Showing! Jan 13, 2023 at Coffey St. Studio
Performances at 4pm and 10pm [length: one hour]
153 Coffey St, Redhook, Brooklyn
Free Admission MORE INFO HERE


I. white noise
II. constellations
III. radio dial
IV. shepard tone
V. glow
VI. binaries
VII. monolith
VIII. feeding frenzy
IX. anthem
X. murmuration

10 Amendments is an experiment in individual and collective freedom and an exploration of rights, agency, responsibilities, and restrictions. It is an immersive improvised musical structure for an orchestra of electric guitarists, a vocalist, and an ambisonic audio engineer, using the first ten amendments of the United States Constitution — The Bill of Rights — as its text. We tear, re-order and reassemble the original text to explore what lies behind, beneath and within its letters and characters. By chipping the cornerstone of our constitution down to linguistic bits and slivers, 10 Amendments reveals fault lines in its promise, its gains and losses, and the troublesome complexities and stunning simplicities embedded within its words.

THE SPACE is a large open room. The instrumentalists are around the perimeter with the vocalist and audience in the center. The piece is manifested in a surround sound format called Ambisonics. There are speakers placed around the space, and an engineer controls the movement of the sound sources, creating a dynamic sonic geography for each section, alternately amplifying and obfuscating questions of agency and individuality.

THE LIBRETTO is the result of a series of editing experiments placed dispassionately upon the text of The Bill of Rights, including various methods of redaction, alphabetization and anagrammatization. These amendments to the text are illustrated as black-and-white typographic animations and projected throughout the space for both the musicians and the audience to follow.

THE SCORE consists of ten sections, symbolized by visual “road signs,” each of which denote a set of musical and improvisational guidelines. These are also projected throughout the space.

THE INSTRUMENTALISTS are a community, a society. Speaking through the ultimate iconic American instrument — the electric guitar — they create a unified sound containing an diversity of individual voices. In each performance, they inhabit and interpret the guidelines of the “road signs” according to their individual whims and collective responsibilities.

THE VOCALIST is any and every American. She follows the projected amended texts, which alternately reveal and conceal meaning and association. She speaks and sings through a mercurial masquerade of voices, testing the mettle of this shared public document and trying to understand her relationship with its intentions and implications. She sifts through fragments of language to grasp the meaning of what we have, and what we’ve lost.

WHY NOW? It is as prescient now as ever to investigate the nuts and bolts of this seminal American document. Our political and social discourse is at an irrational boiling point. Many of our hard-won rights and ideals are in the crosshairs of our governmental process. Once again, extremist ideologies are on the rise.

OUR GOAL: This showing is the artistic team’s first opportunity to bring together the fundamental musical, visual, and theatrical elements of 10 Amendments. We continue to develop all aspects of the show, aiming to create a work that can be adapted to a performance space of any size and with a flexible ensemble ranging from 4-16 guitarists.

For more information please contact Sruly Lazaros:
sruly (at) ditherquartet (dot) com

Carla Kihlstedt
 is an American composer/improviser/songwriter, a violinist/vocalist and an educator. She enjoys creating long-form collaborative pieces that pull from her divergent musical influences and explore a single complicated idea from many angles: the ocean, dreams, quarantine, and the mechanization of the world to name a few. Recently, as a lyricist, she has been exploring different forms of erasure and verbal upcycling. She is a founding member of the bands Tin Hat, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, The Book of Knots, Fred Frith's Cosa Brava, 2 Foot Yard, Minamo and Causing a Tiger. She has written for vocal groups (San Francisco Girls’ Chorus, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Variant 6), chamber groups (International Contemporary Ensemble, Present Music, Brooklyn Rider, Del Sol String Quartet), and dance/theater companies (Jo Kreiter/Flyaway Productions, inkBoat, Joe Goode Dance Company).

Carla is on the faculty of the Contemporary Musical Arts Department of the New England Conservatory and the MFA in Composition program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps. She lives on Cape Cod, MA with her partner and their two kids. Her band, Rabbit Rabbit Radio, releases a song on the first day of every month to subscribers. Ten Amendments is her first collaboration with Dither and her second with poet, artist and educator Rafael Osés. The first was Necessary Monsters -- a song cycle inspired by J. L. Borges' Book of Imaginary Beings.

Rafael Osés was educated at Hartford Art School and Columbia University. His poems have appeared in Black Warrior Review, Fugue, The Cincinnati Review, The Portland Review and elsewhere; his book-length narrative poem “The Night Pharaoh” was published in 2010. Violet Enlightens: A Radio Drama in 3 Acts, written with composer Mark Orton, has been broadcast across the country and around the world, and is archived in the Electronic Poetry Center, SUNY-Buffalo. He has taught at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts since 1997.