Manifestos 4: The Dred and Harriet Scott Decision

Charles Gaines
Past event


Charles Gaines’ Manifestos 4: The Dred and Harriet Scott Decision is a performance-based installation in which Gaines transforms the original text of the landmark 1857 U.S. Supreme Court case of Dred Scott vs. Sanford, which denied U.S. citizenship to people of African ancestry. Many see the ruling as one of the most controversial decisions of the Supreme Court, authorizing racism and irrevocably altering the course of the country’s social, cultural, and political evolution.

The 5-part performance builds upon the artist’s Manifestos series, in which he disarms and draws upon historical texts, uniting the rational, mathematical, and lyrical structures of music with the irrationality of violence, racial tensions, and social injustice. To create the musical composition, Gaines uses a rule-based methodology, transcribing letters ‘A – H’ from the texts into their equivalent musical notes (with the use of the letter ‘H’ representing the code used in early Baroque tradition for B-flat). While the resulting composition sounds intentional and fluid, it is ultimately controlled by the predetermined notation system and the structure of language. ‘Manifestos 4: The Dred and Harriet Scott Decision’ debuted in 2020 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, as a part of the exhibition ‘New Work: Charles Gaines’ and was first performed live in 2022 in New York Times Square, presented by Creative Time and Times Square Arts. Other Manifestos have been performed at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2011); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2014); the REDCAT Theater, Los Angeles (2015, 2024); and Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles (2019); among other venues.

This performance celebrates the release of the Manifestos 4 vinyl LP and will be followed by an album signing with Charles Gaines.

Read the text featured in the performance here

Read the full speech by Frederick Douglass in response to the decision

Engaging with these texts, Gaines excavates the contradictions of a flawed American narrative—a “land of the free” that is powered by insidious, complex systems of subjugation to uphold white supremacy. Through a contemporary lens, the artist draws parallels between history and the present, illuminating the fault lines in the country’s foundation and how they continue to pervade today.

Jillian Billard, The Art Newspaper

about the artists

Charles Gaines

A pivotal figure in the field of conceptual art, Charles Gaines’ body of work engages formulas and systems that interrogate relationships between the objective and the subjective realms. Using a generative approach to create a series of works in a variety of mediums, he has built a bridge between the early conceptual artists of the 1960s and 1970s and subsequent generations of artists pushing the limits of conceptualism today. Gaines has been the subject of numerous exhibitions in the U.S. and around the world, most notably at Dia Beacon, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. He lives and works in Los Angeles.



John Eagle

John Eagle is a composer, instrument builder, and performer. Drawing on various physical and digital technologies in extended instrumental systems, his work explores harmonic relationality as environmental processes. Eagle has performed and presented work internationally including the Sound/Image Festival in London, Int-Act Festival in Bangkok, EMPAC’s Reembodied Sound, Heidi Duckler Dance’s Ebb & Flow festival, UC Irvine’s The Art of Performance, Hear Now Music Festival, Thailand New Music and Arts Symposium, Göteborg Art Sounds, Co-Incidence Festival, Live Arts Exchange, and the Dog Star Orchestra festival. Recent collaborations include Sound House, a performance installation developed with Janie Gesier and Cassia Streb (which features a sixteen-channel wireless sound instrument he designed with Eric Heep) and his work with Charles Gaines as musical director and co-arranger for Manifestos 4, conducting the studio recording and premiere in Times Square in July 2022. He has created several collaborative instrument systems in workshops and performances with artists including Emily Call, Ford Fourqurean, and Piyawat Louilarprassert. His music has been performed by Tacet(i) Ensemble, Brightwork New Music, Wet Ink Ensemble, Yarn/Wire, Isaura String Quartet, Southland Ensemble, Red Desert Ensemble, Bowling Green New Music Ensemble, Unheard-of//Ensemble, Inverted Space, and others. Recordings of his music have been released by Sawyer Editions and Music For Your Inbox. 


Gina Izzo

NY-based flutist Gina Izzo, “Rattles speakers and expectations with stop-time razzle, vocal (flute-talk) and electronic (phaser) effects” (NYC Jazz Record). Far from conventional, Izzo integrates improvisation and analog FX, with flute at the center. She has performed at venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, David Geffen Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, The Stone, Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater, the Jazz Standard, National Sawdust, and the Bang on a Can Festival, among others. Izzo’s most recent electronic debut album “Tomorrow’s Yesterday” as ladyybirdd, was described as “an absolute masterpiece in experimentation” (XuneMag) and “Light years beyond what you’d expect from a solo flutist” (John Schaefer, WNYC New Sounds). As an advocate for women and a leader of entrepreneurship, Izzo co-founded bespoken in 2018, a mentorship organization for women in music, and has served over 85+ artists from around the world through their fellowship program. Izzo can be heard on Innova Recordings, Polyvinyl Records, Jagjaguwar, Nation Sawdust Tracks, Panoramic Records, and New Focus Recordings.


Theodosia Roussos

Theodosia Roussos is an oboist, soprano, improviser, and composer. She has performed with orchestras including Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Philharmonic, and experimental groups including The Industry, Wild Up, Four Larks, Jacaranda, and Art of Elan. Theodosia’s passion for contemporary music has led to premiere performances at REDCAT, Ojai Music Festival, Banff Center, and Bang on a Can Festival. Theodosia scored the Emmy-nominated HBO Doc Being Mary Tyler Moore, Netflix docu-series Naomi Osaka praised for its “magnetic score” by The Guardian, as well as feature film Fresh Kills which premiered at Tribeca, and forthcoming feature Lilies Not For Me. Her opera-film Polymnia, commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects and National Sawdust, was hailed as “haunting and beautiful” by Opera News. Her 90-min chamber opera Polymnia premiered in 2023, commissioned by UCLA SNF Center for the Study of Hellenic Culture and supported by an NEA grant. Theodosia is currently workshopping a new piece, Avrio, exploring gender and women’s liberation, with support from Emory Arts.


Dr. Ian Tyson

Dr. Ian Tyson is a clarinetist based in New York City. He is a founding member of the reed trio Trio 212, was a clarinetist with the United States Air Force bands, and was an Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Fellow. A champion of new music, Dr. Tyson commissioned Crystal Cathedral from composer Leanna Primiani, and performed it at the International Clarinet Association’s 2018 ClarinetFest in Ostend, Belgium. He has performed with orchestras, chamber groups, and given solo recitals in such prestigious venues as The Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and Semperoper Dresden. Dr. Tyson is on faculty at Vassar College, Bard College Conservatory of Music Preparatory Division, Special Music School, and Lucy Moses School. Dr. Tyson is the Executive Director of Daraja Music Initiative, a non-profit that works in Tanzania teaching students to play the clarinet and violin, while also helping to conserve the African Blackwood tree. Dr. Tyson is a Rice Clarinet Works Performing Artist.



Joy Guidry

Radical self-love, compassion, laughter, and the drive to amplify Black artmakers and noisemakers comprise the core of bassoonist and composer Joy Guidry’s work. Their performances have been hailed by The San Diego Tribune as “lyrical and haunting…hair-raising and unsettling.” A versatile improviser and a composer of experimental, daring new works that embody a deep love of storytelling, Joy’s own music channels their inner child, in honor of their ancestors and predecessors. In addition, Joy Guidry is the winner of the 2021 Berlin Prize for Young Artists.


Jeff Scott

A local of Queens, NY, Jeff Scott started the French horn at age 14, receiving an anonymous gift scholarship to begin his private study and formal introduction to music theory with the Brooklyn College Preparatory Division. An even greater gift came from his first private teacher Carolyn Clark, who taught the young Mr. Scott for free during his high school years, giving him the opportunity to study music when resources were not available. Since receiving degrees from Manhattan School of Music, ’90 and SUNY at Stony Brook, ’92, Mr. Scott has enjoyed a performance career as a studio, chamber and orchestral musician, performing in Broadway shows, Ballet companies, touring with various commercial artists as well as recording for film, classical music, pop music and jazz music. Mr. Scott’s composing credits include original works for symphonic and chamber orchestra, chorus, chamber ensembles and solo works for winds, brass, strings and voice. In 2021 Mr. Scott, a founding member of the internationally acclaimed wind quintet Imani Winds, retired after 24 groundbreaking years of touring and recording and pedagogy. The quintet was honored with a permanent installation at the Smithsonian Museum of African American History in 2017. In 2019 Mr. Scott was appointed Associate Professor of Horn at Oberlin College and Conservatory.


David Friend

The New York Times describes David Friend as “[one] of the finest, busiest pianists active in New York’s contemporary-classical scene.” With a primary focus on new and experimental music, he has performed at major venues in the U.S. and abroad including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Disney Hall, Royal Festival Hall (London), Museo Reina Sofia (Madrid), the Chan Centre (Vancouver), and the National Centre for the Performing Arts (Beijing). He has also performed extensively in alternative and DIY venues in the US and abroad, and has appeared in major festivals including Mostly Mozart, Aspen, Gilmore, Beijing Modern Music, Next on Grand, Prague Spring, Ecstatic Music, TIME:SPANS, Rewire (NL), Bang on a Can Marathon, CTM (Berlin), Big Ears, and Ultima (Oslo). He has released recordings on the New Amsterdam, Harmonia Mundi, Albany, Cedille, Dacapo, Innova, a wave press, and New World labels. He records frequently with a wide variety of collaborators and is featured on Third Coast Percussion’s album of music by Steve Reich, which won the Grammy Award for best chamber music performance. His most recent recording, Post-, is an electroacoustic reimagining of what solo piano music can be in the 21st century. More info at


Darian Clonts

Tenor Darian Clonts is a local of Atlanta, GA. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta, and his Master of Music and Doctor of Music degrees from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. Clonts has performed with Cincinnati Opera, The Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theater, The Princeton Festival, The Atlanta Opera, and the Indiana University Opera Theater. Some of his roles include The Witch (Hansel and Gretel), Mingo (Porgy and Bess), Hérrison (L’Étoile), Goro (Madama Butterfly), and El Remendado (Carmen). Clonts serves on the Board of Directors for the NYC Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. He is currently on the voice faculty at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University and William Paterson University. In addition to his faculty positions, he maintains a private voice studio of students from various age groups.

Mads Falcone

Mads Falcone is a Grammy-nominated performer, producer, and curator building artistic community that challenges conventions. They are a founding member and co-director of Isaura String Quartet and Boss Witch Productions, both based in Los Angeles. As a producer, recent work includes collaboration with The Ford, MoMA, Charles Gaines, Times Square Arts, Creative Time, REDCAT, The Broad Museum, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and LACMA. As a performer and proponent of experimental and contemporary music, Mads has collaborated on violin and viola with artists in the US and Europe, including the premiere of over 30 new works for string quartet commissioned by Isaura String Quartet since 2013. They can be heard on recordings for film and television, and have performed and recorded with artists including Billie Eilish, Bebe Rexha, Ariana Grande, The Eagles, The Temptations, Angel Osen, and more. Mads is Co-Curator and Associate Producer of Music at REDCAT, and faculty in the Music Technology and Digital Arts programs at CalArts.

Cast & Creative Team

Composed by Charles Gaines

Arrangements by Charles Gaines and John Eagle

Vocals: Darian Clonts

Piano: David Friend

Flute: Gina Izzo

Oboe: Theodosia Roussos

Clarinet: Ian Tyson

Bassoon: Joy Guidry

French Horn: Jeff Scott 

Music Director: John Eagle

Producer: Madeline Falcone