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Pianist Sarah Cahill Presents In-Person Marathon Performance of The Future is Female at BAMPFA

Saturday, December 18, 2021 from 2pm – 9pm

The Future is Female at UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA)

Tickets included with Museum Admission. More Information:

On Saturday, December 18, 2021 from 2pm – 9pm, pianist Sarah Cahill, described as “a sterling pianist and an intrepid illuminator of the classical avant-garde” by The New York Times, will present a seven-hour marathon performance of her curation and performance project, The Future is Female, at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), in the Crane Forum just inside the museum’s entrance. Cahill will perform over 70 pieces by female composers from the Baroque era to now – including works Cahill commissioned from composers Regina Harris Baiocchi, Mary Watkins, and Theresa Wong – which will coincide with the museum's current exhibition, New Time: Art and Feminisms in the 21st Century.

This expansive exhibition – one of the largest in the museum’s recent history – presents over 140 works, in a wide range of media and genres, by a diverse, international lineup of 77 established and emerging artists and artist collectives, of all genders, who have advanced the evolution of contemporary feminist art. New Time and The Future is Female are both part of the Feminist Art Coalition, a nationwide consortium of more than one hundred arts organizations convened by BAMPFA, which is presenting a yearlong series of programming in 2021 informed by feminist thought and practice. Cahill’s performance also marks the latest installment in BAMPFA’s Full program, a series of immersive musical performances timed to coincide with each full moon.

The seven-hour marathon performance allows audience members to listen for any length of time, come and go, and walk around the performance space and adjacent exhibition galleries. Featured composers will include Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre, Maria de Alvear, Theresa Wong, Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Meredith Monk, Mary Watkins, Vítězslava Kaprálová, Tania León, Fannie Charles Dillon, Zenobia Powell Perry, Clara Schumann, Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, and Hélène de Montgeroult.

The compositions range greatly in style, aesthetic, and mood. According to Chatham Lifestyle, of her performance presented by Carolina Performing Arts in 2019, “Music for Piano, composed by Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, involved laying glass beaded necklaces across the piano strings to create an effect reminiscent of the tar, a traditional Iranian stringed instrument. At times the glass caused a resonating, crystalline echo; other times, vibrations from the piano’s lowest notes created a harsh buzzing sound.” Indy Week noted, “But she also brought passion and sincerity to more traditional fare like Hélène de Montgeroult’s Sonata No. 9, Op. 5 No. 3, a gorgeous and spirited bit of virtuosity,” and furthermore that “the program kept our ears fresh by modulating between the severe—Elizabeth A. Baker’s mathematically recombined Four Planes was as cryptic as Webern’s bagatelles—and the sumptuous, in the lushly tiered first movement of Žibuoklė Martinaitytė’s 2009 piece Heights and Depths of Love.”

This marathon presentation comes in advance of a new three-album project, centered around The Future is Female, which Cahill is currently developing with First Hand Records. The trio of releases are meant to encompass works by composers highlighted through The Future is Female and will include newly commissioned works, as well as a number of world premiere recordings. The first album, titled The Future is Female, Vol. 1, “In Nature,” is scheduled for release in March 2022.

About Sarah Cahill: Sarah Cahill, recently called “a brilliant and charismatic advocate for modern and contemporary composers” by Time Out New York, has commissioned and premiered over sixty compositions for solo piano. Composers who have dedicated works to Cahill include John Adams, Terry Riley, Pauline Oliveros, Julia Wolfe, Yoko Ono, Annea Lockwood, and Ingram Marshall. She was named a 2018 Champion of New Music, awarded by the American Composers Forum (ACF).

Recent appearances include the Interlochen Arts Festival, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Boston Institute for Contemporary Art, a performance at Alice Tully Hall with the Silk Road Ensemble, Stanford Live, Le Poisson Rouge, and concerts at San Francisco Performances, Sacramento State’s Festival of New American Music, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in the United Kingdom, and Toyusu Civic Center Hall in Tokyo. Cahill’s latest project is The Future is Female, featuring more than seventy compositions by women around the globe, ranging from the 18th century to the present day. Recent and upcoming performances of The Future is Female include concerts presented by The Barbican, Carolina Performing Arts, Carlsbad Music Festival, Detroit Institute of Arts, University of Iowa, Bowling Green New Music Festival, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, North Dakota Museum of Art, and Mayville State University.

Cahill’s recent and upcoming streaming speaking engagements have included a two-day discussion presented by the Boulanger Initiative, The Future is Female: In Conversation and Performance (watch online); a Piano Talk presented by the Ross McKee Foundation titled Challenging the Canon (watch online); a panel presented by American Composers Forum on Advocating for Gender Equity; three webinars presented by the San Francisco Symphony, including Five Composers You Should Know (Who Happen to be Women) (November 10); and At Home with Sarah Cahill a workshop presented by Amateur Music Network, where Cahill spoke about her life in new music and performed a short concert (watch online).

Her previous streamed performances during the pandemic have included the Bang on a Can Marathon in June 2020, a concert presented by Harrison House in Joshua Tree as part of Cahill’s residency there (watch online); a Piano Break recital presented by the Ross McKee Foundation, featuring the world premiere of Regina Harris Baiocchi’s Piano Poems, inspired by poetry by Gwendolyn Brooks and Richard Wright (watch online); a faculty performance at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, featuring the world premiere of Up for two pianos by Riley Nicholson, performed with Regina Myers (watch online); as well as appearances streamed by Musaics of the Bay, Old First Concerts, SFSymphony+, and Community School of Music and Arts.

The first episode of At Home With Sarah Cahill captures an afternoon of musical storytelling filmed at her home in Berkeley. Cahill performs Vítězslava Kaprálová’s Preludes 1 and 3 (1937) and Amy Beach’s Dreaming (1892), and shares the compelling background of the works and the composers. She performs the two works on Terry Riley’s historic Mason & Hamlin piano, which had just arrived a few days before as a gift from Riley. Additional footage of Cahill speaking in her garden about her home and life in Berkeley is available here.

Sarah Cahill’s discography includes more than twenty albums on the New Albion, CRI, New World, Other Minds, Tzadik, Albany, Cold Blue, Other Minds, and Pinna labels. In September 2017, she released Eighty Trips Around the Sun: Music by and for Terry Riley, a box set tribute to Terry Riley, on Irritable Hedgehog Records. The four-CD set includes solo works by Riley, four-hand works with pianist Regina Myers, and world premiere recordings of commissioned works composed in honor of Riley’s 80th birthday. Her latest release is Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Piano with Javanese Gamelan recorded with Gamelan Galak Tika, released by the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2021.

Cahill’s radio show, Revolutions Per Minute, can be heard every Sunday evening from 6 to 8 pm on KALW, 91.7 FM in San Francisco. She is on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory. For more information, visit

About BAMPFA: An internationally recognized arts institution with deep roots in the Bay Area, the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) is a forum for cultural experiences that transform individuals and advance the local, national, and global discourse on art and film. BAMPFA is UC Berkeley’s premier visual arts venue, presenting more than 450 film screenings, scores of public programs, and more than fifteen exhibitions annually. With its vibrant and eclectic programming, BAMPFA inspires the imagination and ignites critical dialogue through art, film, and other forms of creative expression.

The institution’s collection of more than 28,000 works of art encompasses pieces dating from 3000 BCE to the present day and includes important holdings of Ming and Qing Dynasty Chinese painting, Japanese paintings and woodblock prints of the Edo period, Indian miniatures, Old Master works on paper, Italian Baroque painting, early American painting, Abstract Expressionist painting, contemporary photography, and conceptual art. BAMPFA’s collection also includes more than 18,000 films and videos, including the largest collection of Japanese cinema outside of Japan, impressive holdings of Soviet cinema, West Coast avant-garde film, and seminal video art, as well as hundreds of thousands of articles, reviews, posters, and other ephemera related to the history of film.

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