Press Room

Interplay at the Stephen Friedman Gallery to feature works by artist Sarah Ball and music by tenor Nicholas Phan

Nicholas Phan (photo: Clubsoda Productions) ; Declan (In Simone Rocha with Eddie), 2023 (photo: Todd-White Art Photography)

(March 2024) —Following the successful launch last month of their new Interplay Series pairing
music and the visual arts, Stephen Friedman Gallery, New York and 21C Media Group present
Grammy-nominated tenor Nicholas Phan, with lutenist Joshua Stauffer, performing a program
inspired by Tilted, the first solo exhibition in New York by British artist Sarah Ball. The event will
take place on Saturday, March 9 from 6-8pm and is free with tickets to the exhibition. Following
Phan’s performance from 6:15 to 7:00pm, there will be a reception. For tickets, RSVP at
[email protected].

“Tilted” comprises a new body of paintings exploring notions of dandyism in the 21st century.
Portraying individuals who embrace self-expression and challenge conventions of gender, Ball
spotlights facial features, hairstyles, clothing, jewelry, and makeup that unveil their unique
qualities, drawing inspiration from diverse sources such as street casting, archival photographs,
and social media. Responding to Ball’s work, Phan immediately envisioned a program, which he is
calling “Iconoclasts,” comprised entirely of music by women composers of the Baroque era –
including the remarkable Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677) – who, by virtue of their gender, were
challenging convention by working in a field entirely dominated by men.

About his contribution to the exhibition, Phan explains:

“Sarah’s focus on the ‘Dandy’ archetype in her work immediately spoke to me as a gay man
who works in an art form that historically has been so dominated by toxic norms of
masculinity. When it comes to tenors, the world of opera can be very focused on volume and
virility, whereas I find myself often seeking opportunities for emotional intimacy in the music
I sing. Thinking about Sarah’s visual meditations on dandyism, and the theatricality and
creativity that are associated with its challenges to gender norms, the first composer who
came to mind was the Italian composer Barbara Strozzi. At a time in which the realm of
composition was thought to be an exclusively masculine space, Strozzi managed to become
the most published composer of the time – an astonishing feat that has resulted in a treasure
trove of beautiful music. While we often think of ‘Dandies’ as male figures challenging notions
of masculinity and embracing the feminine, Strozzi challenged notions of femininity and
successfully managed to navigate exclusively masculine spaces through her creativity.”

The inaugural InterPlay event at the Stephen Friedman Gallery featured a performance by
Grammy Award nominee, violinist Tessa Lark, inspired by an exhibition of works by Swedish
artist Andreas Eriksson. A video recapping some highlights of that event can be found here.

About the artists and presenters

Tenor Nicholas Phan has been described by the Boston Globe as “one of the world’s most
remarkable singers. Praised for his keen intelligence, captivating stage presence and natural
musicianship, he performs regularly with the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies.
Also an avid recitalist, in 2010 he co-founded the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago (CAIC)
to promote art song and vocal chamber music; he also serves as artistic director. Highlights of
Phan’s current season include the role of Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with Boston
Baroque; returns to the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Baltimore Symphony,
Berkeley Symphony and Orchestra of St. Luke’s; and a season-long residency at New York’s
Kaufman Music Center. A prolific recording artist, Phan will be joined by Palaver Strings and
vocalist Farayi Malek for A Change is Gonna Come, a new album, available May 24, exploring
America’s rich legacy of protest songs and music inspired by social events.

Phan’s most recent album, Stranger: Works for Tenor by Nico Muhly, was nominated for the 2022
Grammy Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album. His previous albums, Clairières and Gods
and Monsters, were nominated for the same award in 2020 and 2017, respectively. He is the
first singer of Asian descent to be nominated in the history of the category, which has been
awarded by the Recording Academy since 1959. His other solo albums – Illuminations, A Painted
Tale, Still Fall the Rain and Winter Words – made many “best of” lists, including those of the New
York Times, New Yorker, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, and WQXR. Phan’s growing discography
also includes a Grammy-nominated recording of Stravinsky’s Pulcinella with Pierre Boulez and
the Chicago Symphony, Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San
Francisco Symphony, Scarlatti’s La gloria di primavera and Handel’s Joseph and his Brethren
with Philharmonia Baroque, an album of Bach’s secular cantatas with Masaaki Suzuki and Bach
Collegium Japan, Bach’s St. John Passion (in which he sings both the Evangelist and the tenor
arias) with Apollo’s Fire, and the world premiere recordings of two orchestral song cycles: The
Old Burying Ground by Evan Chambers and Elliott Carter’s A Sunbeam’s Architecture.

Joshua Stauffer is a restless creative who performs music from over four centuries on a variety
of plucked instruments. He began his career as an electric guitarist performing jazz and
improvised music, before transitioning to the classical guitar via contemporary works and
chamber music. His diverse musical interests converged when he encountered the theorbo, a
large lute which performs primarily basso continuo, or improvised accompaniment, in chamber
and orchestral works from the 17th and early 18th centuries.

A keen interest in musical collaboration has taken Stauffer across the United States and around
the globe, including concerts in Thailand, New Zealand, England, France, Switzerland, and Canada.
He is a founding member and the executive director of Time Canvas, an ensemble dedicated to
performing early music and new compositions on period instruments. Recent orchestral
appearances include Early Music New York, The Sebastians, and the Academy of Sacred Drama,
and he has performed as a guest artist at the University of Michigan, University of Notre Dame,
and Utah State University.

Stauffer received his Master of Music in historical plucked instruments at the Juilliard School in
New York City. Previous studies include a Master of Music in classical guitar in the studio of Jason
Vieaux at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and a Bachelor of Music in jazz guitar at the University
of the Arts in Philadelphia.

Stephen Friedman Gallery is a contemporary art gallery that was founded in 1995 with a focus
on representing exceptional artists and artist estates from around the world. Since its
inauguration, the gallery has been based in Mayfair, London. In November 2023, the gallery
opened at 54 Franklin Street in Tribeca, New York.

The gallery represents almost forty artists with areas of interest that include conceptual and
South American art, and abstraction, minimalism and figuration in painting, sculpture, video and
installation. Its international program has overseen the rise of multiple high-profile artists,
including Mamma Andersson, Leilah Babirye, Andreas Eriksson, Tom Friedman, Kendell Geers,
Hulda Guzmán, Jim Hodges, Rivane Neuenschwander, David Shrigley, Yinka Shonibare CBE RA,
Kehinde Wiley and Luiz Zerbini, amongst others. The gallery recently announced representation
of Sky Glabush, Pam Glick, Woody De Othello, Yooyun Yang, and Clare Woods. Also working
directly with estates, including those of Manuel Espinosa and Jiro Takamatsu, the gallery
enhances its focus on contemporary art with historical presentations of twentieth-century

Based in New York City, 21C Media Group – hailed as a “cutting edge agency” by the New York
Times – specializes in publicity, advocacy, imaging, and consulting in music, culture, and the
performing arts. Drawn from diverse backgrounds that include recording, publishing, promotion,
and artist management, the 21C team offers a broad range of expertise in digital media, creative
storytelling, and strategic career building. Its mission is to help artists and organizations embrace
and harness the technological and cultural opportunities afforded by the 21st
century. By developing and shaping their owned and earned media – across platforms ranging from the
traditional to the new – 21C ensures that clients thrive in today’s ever-changing media landscape.

21C boasts a top-flight global client roster that encompasses leading performing artists and
organizations, prominent Fortune 500 companies, and world-renowned nonprofits. Guiding
clients on their respective journeys – helping them to tell their stories, hone their projects,
heighten their profiles, and engage their fans and audiences across multiple media platforms –
21C relies not only on its own dedicated team but also on its place and standing in the cultural
community. Underpinning the company’s success is a network of strong relationships, built over
many years; as well as knowing and having access to the world’s leading musicians and
ensembles, 21C maintains a close rapport with an array of industry leaders in music, media, and
the performing arts. The company enjoys the confidence of programmers, presenters, artist
managers, senior journalists and broadcasters, and other tastemakers, trendsetters, and
influencers in its cultural sphere. Also drawing from beyond the expert resources of its own team,
21C has assembled an enviable group of close and trusted collaborators to supplement its
creative efforts on behalf of its clients: they include designers and developers, photographers and
videographers, and other creative minds in the digital content and marketing fields.

Ideally equipped to reach, engage, and appeal to today’s sophisticated audiences and influencers,
21C Media Group helps artists and organizations decide what’s next and most important on their
chosen paths – and then takes them there, harnessing their strengths, narratives, and passions
along the way.

High-resolution photos of Nicholas Phan can be downloaded here

Stephen Friedman Gallery Hours/Dates
Tuesday – Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 11am-5pm

Facebook: Stephen-Friedman-Gallery
Instagram: @stephenfriedmangallery
Twitter/X: @SFGalleryLondon
Threads: @stephenfriedmangallery

# # #

© 21C Media Group, March 2024

Return to Press Room