Wild Up began in 2010 as the self-funded project of Artistic Director Christopher Rountree. After graduate school, Rountree returned to Los Angeles to create an ensemble made up of young musicians that would reject classical music’s most outdated traditions and embrace unusual venues and programs that throw the classical repertoire into the context of pop culture, new music and performance art. The group’s first few concerts at art studios and rock clubs around L.A. created a fanbase of true believers. When UCLA’s Hammer Museum tapped Wild Up as the museum’s first-ever orchestra in residence, the group played dozens of concerts in the Hammer’s halls, courtyards, galleries and bathrooms, and The Los Angeles Times proclaimed Wild Up the best classical music of the year. From there it was off to the races, as Wild Up began collaborating with musical and cultural institutions around the world.
Called “…a raucous, grungy, irresistibly exuberant…fun-loving, exceptionally virtuosic family” by Zachary Woolfe of the New York Times, Wild Up has been lauded as one of classical music’s most exciting groups by virtually every significant institution and critic within earshot. This year, Wild Up premieres new pieces by Julianna Barwick and Andrew Greenwald; unveils an evening-length program with Ted Hearne about religion, space and the internet called “of Ascension”; makes their debut on the Ecstatic Music Festival with new work by William Brittelle and Zola Jesus; plays a live radio show at the ACE Hotel with Nadia Sirota, Andrew Norman, and Caroline Shaw; goes on a second U.S. tour with residencies in Salt Lake City, Chapel Hill, and Sonoma; joins Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and Four Larks for a show where the audience doesn’t wear shoes in downtown L.A.; plays a new program called “Eve” with Martha Graham Dance Company; brings the West Coast premieres of Ragnar Kjartansson’s “Bliss” to Walt Disney Concert Hall and Bill Morrison and Alex Somers’ “Dawson City: Frozen Time” to Royce Hall; gives a portrait of Julius Eastman at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.; and teaches classes around the intersection of mindfulness, social practice and empathy in Virginia.
Past notable performances are many. The group accompanied Björk at Goldenvoice’s FYF Fest; premiered David Lang and Mark Dion’s “anatomy theater” at LA Opera; played the scores to “Under the Skin” by Mica Levi and “Punch Drunk Love” by Jon Brion at the Regent Theater and Ace Hotel; premiered a new opera of Julia Holter’s at National Sawdust; premiered a new work of avant-pop icon Scott Walker at Walt Disney Concert Hall; played a noise concert as a fanfare for the groundbreaking of Frank Gehry’s new building on Grand Avenue and First Street in downtown L.A.; and has been lavished with praise by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, public radio’s Performance Today and many, many more publications and critics.
The first record in their Eastman anthology Julius Eastman Vol. 1: Femenine has been lauded as “A masterpiece.” (New York Times) “instantly recognizable” (Vogue) and “singularly jubilant..a bit in your face, sometimes capricious, and always surprising.” (NPR). NPR named the record among the top ten records of 2021 in all genres.