Cineshape Workshop

CINESHAPE is an innovative collaborative project between composer Amy Williams and video artist Aaron Henderson. Each of Williams’ five original musical compositions in the Cineshape series, with a unique instrumental combination of one to seven players, is based on a close and selective reading of a different film (Chunhyang, Time Code, Lives of Others, Run Lola Run and Rope). Henderson is creating five new short films that will take their inspiration from the original films and also from the existing compositions and, subsequently, Williams will compose new music (for the same instrumentalists) to underscore the new films. This is a highly unique interdisciplinary creative process, in which existing films influence music which in turn influences new films which in turn influence music. Each step of the process is defined by liveness and communication. Collaboration exemplifies what it means to be human as an artist: an intensive synergetic interaction between artists to create new work, which then further involves technology and audience through live performance.

What particularly interests us in this project, and perhaps defines its innovation, is the process of identifying elements in the source films that are not exclusive or explicit to the films, such as motifs, atmospheric qualities and abstract structural models, and incorporating these in the creation of new work. We are attempting to develop something original out of an existing artwork, without appropriation, quotation, or much narrative reference. Furthermore, we are developing unique relationships between specific technical and formalistic elements that are shared by films and music. The complete 65-minute Cineshape series will be structured as follows:

Composition #1 (inspired by the film Chunhyang, for flute and percussion: 11’)
Film #1 (inspired by the film Chunhyang with original music by Williams: 3’)
Composition #2 (Time Code, for piano and string quartet: 10’)
Film #2 (Time Code, with original music: 5’)
Composition #3 (The Lives of Others, for flute, cello and piano: 7’)
Film #3 (The Lives of Others, with original music: 4’)
Composition #4 (Run Lola Run, for piano: 12’)
Film #4 (Run Lola Run, with original music: 3’)
Composition #5 (Rope, for flute, piano, percussion and string quartet: 8’)
Film #5 (Rope, 2’)

The world premiere performances of the complete series will take place in Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Rochester from May 1-4, 2016 by a stellar ensemble of contemporary musicians, including the JACK Quartet, flutist Lindsey Goodman and percussionist Scott Christian. A public presentation of the work-in-progress will take place in early February 2016 in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium. Williams and Henderson will discuss the specifics and complexities of this unique collaborative process; Robert Clift from Film Studies will moderate the discussion. In addition to the University community and the public, members of the press will be invited to preview the project. Live performances of two of the compositions will be performed at this event—the first and last composed: Cineshape 1 from 2001 and Cineshape 4 from 2015. We will also show two of Henderson’s new videos—those that reference the same two source films, which will be underscored by new soundtracks, also performed live. The music will be performed at this forum by the composer at the piano, Lindsey Goodman (flute) and Scott Christian (percussion). The focus is not so much the performative aspect (i.e. it is not a traditional concert), but rather producing an open workshop forum, in which the artists discuss each work and the creative process as a whole, and in which the audience is encouraged to interact with questions and comments.

This event is also sponsored by the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music, the Eastman School of Music, the Pittsburgh Festival of New Music, the Provost's Office Special Initiative for Research in the Humanities, and the Dietrich School Dean's Office. For more information, click here or contact Amy Williams at


Friday, February 19, 2016 - 4:00pm

Location and Address

Music Building, Room 123