Roulette Intermedium was founded in 1978 at the height of the Downtown Experimental Arts revolution by four graduates from the University of Illinois (Urbana), trombonist/composer Jim Staley, composer/producer David Weinstein, intermedia artist Dan Senn, and graphic artist Laurie Szujewska. The informal concerts they presented in a small loft space in TriBeCa in Manhattan soon attracted an audience and critical attention. The first donation – an unsolicited and unexpected check for $1,000 – arrived in the mail from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, suggested by noted composer, John Cage. By the mid-1980s, Roulette had emerged as “a landmark for New York’s downtown new music composers.”
Over the next three decades, Roulette attracted a steadily growing audience and worldwide reputation as a center for musical innovation. Seminal pioneering figures who have presented their work at Roulette, oftentimes early in their careers, include Maryanne Amacher, Robert Ashley, Anthony Braxton, Simone Forti, Bill Frisell, Philip Glass, Yusef Lateef, Christian Marclay, Meredith Monk, Ikue Mori, Pauline Oliveros, Zeena Parkins, Arthur Russell, Kaija Saariaho, Wadada Leo Smith, Henry Threadgill, and John Zorn. Roulette continues to make a mark as a venue where scores of promising avant-garde artists make their first professional statements. Representatives of the latest generation of composing artists who have recently developed and presented works at Roulette include Aaron Burnette, Maria Chavez, Phyllis Chen, Jennifer Choi, Mario Diaz de Leon, Mary Halvorson, Darius Jones, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Alfredo Marin, Tristan Perich, Matana Roberts, Tyshawn Sorey, Ben Stapp, C. Spencer Yeh and many more.
As audiences grew and rents in lower Manhattan began to rise, the staff and Board members began the search for a larger, more flexible and affordable home. On September 15th, 2011, Roulette opened a new chapter in its history when it moved into the 1928 Memorial Hall in the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District. The new 400-seat theater allows us to expand our presentations along with our services to artists and our community; each season, we now present more than 100 music, dance, and intermedia performances. Our annual attendance now tops 60,000.
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