Jonathan Bepler

© Theo Wargo/Getty Images North America


Jonathan Bepler was self-taught on many instruments by the time he attended Bennington College in Vermont. His major areas of study were composition with Louis Calabro, improvisation with Bill Dixon, percussion with Milford Graves, and performance with artists and choreographers including Lisa Nelson and Min Tanaka. His interest in collaboration and interdisciplinary work continued in New York City, where his work often involved co-mingling many seemingly disparate elements, a love of chaos, and a thirst for reconciliation.

Bepler has worked with diverse choreographers including John Jasperse, Sasha Waltz, Jennifer Lacey, and Wally Cardona, and has also led ensembles of both improvised and pre-composed music, appearing often in New York and Europe. His concert music includes commissions for the Ensemble Modern, the Glenn Branca Ensemble, and the Basel Sinfonietta. His collaboration with artist Ann-Sofi Siden, featuring actors, technicians, and architecture of the Royal Dramatic Theatre of Sweden, was shown in Stockholm and Berlin. His work with Matthew Barney has spanned nearly 20 years and has included seven films and nine performances. Jonathan Bepler lives and works in Berlin.

Selected Works

River of Fundament
Operatic film in collaboration with Matthew Barney. BSO Munich, BAM NYC

Within Between
Collaboration with choreographer John Jasperse
Live music: voices, ukuleles, bouzoukis, gopichands, violin, percussion

Live Performance in Navy Yard Drydocks, NYC in collaboration with Matthew Barney
300 voices, Banjo ensemble, String ensemble

Gezeiten Floor
Installation, ZKM Karlsruhe
Composition for wooden floor played by over 100 motors controlled by computer, and 8 channel conrete sound via speakers

Curtain Callers / Theater Machine
Piece for 600 voices recorded in Royal Dramatic Theater, Stockholm, presented as installation in collaboration with Ann-Sofi Siden

Tool is Loot
Score for Dance with Jennifer Lacey and Wally Cardona
Trombones, strings, woodwinds, percussion. Jonathan Bepler, Baritone

KHU. Detroit.
Opera in Collaboration with Matthew Barney

Guardian of the Veil
Music for chamber orchestra, marching snares, baglamas, suonas. Performed in Il Tempo Del Postino. Basel Sinfonietta, Theater Basel

Concert piece for Guitar, Trombone, Viola, Accordeon

Same Unknown
Soundscore for 9 channel video installation by Ann-Sofi Siden

Score for Dance by Luc Dunberry. Grand Theatre Luxembourg, Radial System V, Berlin

Les Assistantes
Collaboration with Jennifer Lacey, premiered at Montpellier Danse

REN. Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler. Act one of Opera based on Ancient Evenings by Norman Mailer

8-Channel sound Installation at Contemporary Arts Center Cincinnati. Residency at FWM

Concert piece for Orchestral ensemble, children's choir, opera soloists and foley artists. Performed by Ensemble Modern at Schauspielhaus Frankfurt

Sound score for the dance/ theater piece by Sasha Waltz and Company, Schaubühne Berlin

Collaboration with choregrapher Jennifer Lacey and Designer Nadia Lauro Premiered at Montpellier Dance Festival

Live performance with David Zicarelli at Basel Festival of Electronic Music

The Rape of the Sabine Women
600 voices in the Herodeon theater at the Acropolis. Cliffside Bouzouki ensemble. Piece for butchers knives, meat, and singers

Double quartet for: together again for the first time. Multi-channel video and sound installation

Performances of California at BAM Next Wave Festival. Live score for 4 Pianos and 4 foley artists

Sound and Score for Hoist. Erotic short by Matthew Barney

Essen, Berlin, Montpellier. Improvisational Performance with Sasha Waltz and David Zambrano

Solo Improvisation at Issue Project Room, NYC. Vocals with multichannel computer accompaniment

So Low
Solo Improvisation at Das TAT. Frankfurt, Germany

89 Seconds at Alcazar
Collaboration with video artist Eve Sussman. Whitney Biennial

Collaboration with choreographer John Jasperse, Festival International de Danse a Cannes

Improvisational Performance with Sasha Waltz. Bordeaux

Transient Symphony
Oratorio for Hillside and Valley. A mobile soundtrack for the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial

Improvisational performance with Arto Lindsay, John Zorn, I-Sound, Ben Rubin

Works and Process: Jonathan Bepler and Matthew Barney
Guggenheim Museum Theater, NYC. Live performance featured characters and musicians from the Cremaster films

7-channel sound score for the dance/ performance This is an Epic, with choreographer Jennifer Lacey and Designer Nadia Lauro

6-Channel sound score for the video At Rest, in collaboration with artist Malerie Marder

Cremaster 3
Score for film by Matthew Barney

Multichannel sound performance with dance by Claudia de Serpa Soares. PS1, NYC

Score for the dance/ theater piece S by Sasha Waltz and company, Schaubühne Berlin

Improvisations with dancer KJ Holmes. P.S. 122

On Balance
Audio installation at PS1 Institute for Contemporary Art. 40 min composition for 4 loudspeakers, SFX and Electronics

The Man in Black/ Drone Harness
12" vinyl picture-disk edition with Matthew Barney

New Music ensemble featuring Zeena Parkins, DJ Isound, Blake Lindberg, Jonathan Bepler

Cremaster 2

Don’t Go Without Your Echo
with choreographer Susan Rethorst, The Kitchen, NYC

Primary Orifice for the Glenn Branca Ensemble, Premiered at the Barbican Centre, London

Fremd Zieh Ich Wieder Aus
for piano and baritone, based on Schubert’s Die Winterreise

Cremaster 5
Operatic score featuring The Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra

Keep Your Hands Off
Chamber piece for piano, saxophone, cello, bass, guitar, percussion

Cremaster 1
Directed by: Matthew Barney

Queen of Mud
Directed by: Anne Sofie Siden and Tony Gerber

Automation of Accidental Gestures
Designed, constructed and composed for computer-controlled sound and sculpture installation

© Hugo Glendinning



A Film by Matthew Barney & Jonathan Bepler

Written and directed by Matthew Barney
Music composed and directed by Jonathan Bepler

In collaboration with composer Jonathan Bepler, visionary artist Matthew Barney developed a radical reinvention of Norman Mailer’s novel Ancient Evenings. River of Fundament combines traditional modes of narrative cinema with filmed elements of performance, sculpture, and opera, reconstructing Mailer’s hypersexual story of Egyptian gods and the seven stages of reincarnation, alongside the rise and fall of the American car industry.

The film’s central scene is an abstraction of Mailer’s wake, set in a replica of the late author’s apartment in Brooklyn Heights and featuring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Paul Giamatti, Elaine Stritch, Ellen Burstyn, Joan La Barbara, and jazz percussionist Milford Graves. Alluring and intense, this epic, multidimensional experience is a sprawling allegory of death and rebirth within the contemporary American landscape.


© Yi-Chun Wu



Choreography: John Jasperse

Music: Jonathan Bepler

Everything looks like something. But apparently you can’t judge a book by its cover. Despite the interplay and disjunction between essence and appearance, all artistic work uses its perceptual surface (what it looks like, sounds like, feels like, …) as a means of transmission. The aesthetics of a work of art speak to the value systems of its author(s), which are in turn formed through the construction of such eternally slippery terms as beauty.

Within between is a new evening-length work by Jasperse with an original score by composer Jonathan Bepler, whose music is referred to as being "a marvel - full of mysteries, quietly chaotic" ( Jasperse seeks both to embrace and to resist the habits of his own history, to create a cross pollination or catalytic mating of sensibilities, where the work emerges out of the space between what seems to be distinct terrains.

In Process