Asa Horvitz is a performance maker, composer/musician, and choreographer.


GHOST (2023-)


1 hour 40 minute performance for four performers/musicians, a custom Natural Language Processing AI system, & a horn band; a website, & a vinyl record (forthcoming fall 2024 on Het HEM). THE SAVED NIGHT PART II. 

After my father died, I gathered 151 books on death, loss, archivies, and memory. With the help of Seraphina Goldfarb-Tarrant and Alejandro Calcaño, I trained a custom Natural Language Processing AI system on these books. I used the system we designed to generate fragmented, broken text, full of ghosts. I set this text to music with Carmen Q. Rothwell and Ariadne Randall. Later we invited my uncle Wayne Horvitz to join us. This music became the core of GHOST. 

The first part of the performance is a lecture on grief, AI, the dead, Talmudic philosophy, language, and family history (read a version here). The second part is a choreographic concert: 70 minutes of singing and speaking AI-generated text in a bed of synths, piano, viola da gamba, shimmering metal gongs. Also: gestures, naps, eating round food, an interruption from a band of horn players conducted by Wayne. 

GHOST is an attempt to use the structure of an NLP AI system (text archive, text input, text output) as a way to play with the permanent presence of the past. An intervention into the conversation around AI and something like music-theatre. Speaking and singing as a way to be with the dead, singing as listening. The room fills up with memories, the dead aren’t gone. And for a moment we’re all just a lot of words from the past, arranged in a new order. 

Alongside the performances, Het HEM commissioned a standalone website version of GHOST for The Couch, with audio recordings from 2017-2023, text, video, images, AI system, essay, and interview. A vinyl record of the music will be released by Het HEM in fall 2024. 


Microscope Gallery, New York, May 18, 2019 (first version) 
DAS Arts/DAS Theatre, Amsterdam, January 30, 2020 (workshop) 
deSingel, Antwerp, November 20 2021 (try-out) 
SPRING Festival Utrecht, May 24-25 2023 (pre-premiere) 
brutWien/Musiktheatretage Wien, September 19-21 2023 (premiere) 
Zone2Source, Amsterdam (part of Ghosts in the Machine), 26 September 2023
deSchool, Amsterdam, 27-28 September 2023 (presented by Het HEM and Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ) 


Artistic direction: Asa Horvitz 

With and by: Asa Horvitz, Wayne Horvitz, Ariadne Randall, Carmen Q. Rothwell

Musical direction: Asa Horvitz & Carmen Q. Rothwell

AI system design: Seraphina Goldfarb-Tarrant, Alejandro Calcaño

AI programming: Seraphina Goldfarb-Tarrant

Horn band: Pablo Nicolas Rojo Anguita, Lezaam Beets, Michael Moore, Ada Rave, Gonçalo Soares, Fie Schouten, Felicity Provan (NL) Anna Tsombanis, Thomas Wiesinger, Phil Yaeger, Christina Baumfried, Max Nagl (AT)

Advice: Oneka von Schrader & Joachim Robbrecht

Collaboration on stage and costume design: Evandro Pedroni

Shirts & Flags: Le Van Hung

Ceramics: Jacob Bartmann

Hat maker: Monica Gamberale

Booklet design and selected images and collages: Nica Horvitz

Lighting assistance: Theo Emil Krausz

Production: Sophie Menzinger, Theo Emil Krausz (AT) / Waffa al-Attas, Nora Duijf (NL)

AI UX Design for performance: XandraDave Cochran

Previous versions of GHOST included contributions from Bryan West, Martin Brans, Esy Casey, David Bruin and Pawel Szubert

The Couch:

Web development and design: Simon Dirks

All other texts: Asa Horvitz

Curators: Orpheu de Jong & Maia Kenney

Archival photos: Ann Horvitz, Wayne L. Horvitz, Lee Horvitz, Philip Horvitz, Wayne B. Horvitz, Asa Horvitz, Bill Horvitz, Nica Horvitz, Patti Trimble, Robin Eschner, Josh Gaster, unknown. Kawah Ijen/homepage photo by Esy Casey, ceramics photos by Jacob Bartmann. 

Video documentation of performances: Sergio Gridelli (NL) / Ines Bacher & Magdalena Fischer (AT)

Production: Golden Trout Wilderness (NL/USA), in association with Celestial Excursions Wien (AT) and SHOW MACHINE (NL). Co-production: SPRING Performing Arts Festival, Het HEM, Muziekgebouw Productiehuis, Frascati Producties, Musiktheatertage Wien, brutWien. With the kind support of the City of Vienna Culture Department, and the Federal Ministry of Arts, Culture, Civil Service and Sports Austria; Amsterdam Fonds voor Kunst; Gemeente Utrecht; Amsterdam Zuid; KlavierLoft Wien. Residency/development: Goethe Institut Hong Kong, Bâtard Festival / wpZimmer, deSingel, Microscope Gallery NYC, Camargo Foundation, MacDowell, DAS Theatre, ELIAS 2069. 

With thanks to/impossible without: Carmen Q. Rothwell, Ariadne Randall, Wayne Horvitz, Seraphina Goldfarb-Tarrant, Alejandro Calcaño, Bryan West, Robin Eschner, Oneka von Schrader, Joachim Robbrecht, Nica Horvitz, Martin Brans, Esy Casey, David Bruin, Cara Hoffman, John Tarrant, Silvia Bottiroli, Edit Kaldor, Andrea Bozic, Scott Gibbons, Mala Kline, Gary F. Brown, Robert Bosnak, Sabine Cmelniski, Eliza McKelway, Mazlum Nergiz, Andrej Nosov, Grzegorz Reske, Marta Keil, Mark Timmer, Joost Heijthuijsen, Orpheu de Jong, Maia Kenney, Simon Dirks, Julian Hetzel.

For Bill Horvitz (1947-2017)