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Flame Keepers

A LIVE-STREAMING, PERPETUAL SONIC ART INSTALLATION

Flame Keepers is a perpetual music installation based on Jakub Ciupinski's concept and design. Commissioned, created, and launched by Metropolis Ensemble in response to COVID-19, Flame Keepers runs uninterrupted in real time, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Invited artists are commissioned weekly to serve as musical custodians and creators, or Flame Keepers, tasked with supplying new original material every seven hours. As a result, the piece will evolve as an open-ended collective composition designed to run forever.

We intend the Flame Keepers experience to be a virtual bonfire shared by a group of strangers worldwide, a concert that never ends, made in, and especially for, times of hardship and social isolation.




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This Week's Curator

Sam Nester

Sam Nester is a trumpet player and composer. Nester has performed for Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival & Lincoln Center Out of Doors, the Beijing Modern Music Festival, Paris Opera Ballet, Wordless Music Orchestra, Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, Mark Morris Dance Group and the Festival of New Trumpet Music among others. For these ensembles and others, Nester has premiered works by Pulitzer Prize winning composer John Luther Adams, John Cale (Velvet Underground) and John Zorn.

He has been the artist-in-residence for Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, and Bruny Island (Australia). He has received commissions for the creation of site-specific sound installations from George Mason University, Colby College, and EcoArt Project.

He currently serves on Music History faculty at the Manhattan School of Music, as well as trumpet faculty for The Juilliard School’s Music Advancement Program.

The recipient of numerous awards, Nester has been a Fulbright Scholar, a recipient of the Australian Music Foundation Award, a Brian Boak Outstanding Performer Award, an EcoArt Project Prize winner, and an American Australian Association’s Dame Joan Sutherland Fund grantee. He graduated with a Bachelor of Music Studies from the Queensland Conservatorium and Bachelor of Music from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (First Class Honors). He received a Master of Music and Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Manhattan School of Music, earning the Helen Cohn Award for his dissertation reexamining the life and work of Giacinto Scelsi in contemporary contexts.

See all our past curators »

How It Works


On this page, seven musical ideas, or streams, loop simultaneously in real-time.

As the streams repeat, the musical experience will never be or sound the same because the individual loops run asynchronously and their durations are divergent.

As a result, the seven streams shift and realign into subtle new configurations continuously.

The perpetual metamorphosis of this composition is catalyzed by a commissioned prompt: every seven hours, a select musical creator serving as The Flame Keeper is given the chance to replace any existing stream with a single new one.

The moment a new stream is introduced, the system enters a seven-hour lockdown, during which the composition cannot be altered by human hands. After the given seven hour lockdown is over, the Keeper may swap another stream and the cycle begins anew.

Passing the Torch

At the beginning of the week, the new Flame Keeper inherits the state of the installation from the previous one. Due to the seven hour lockdown mechanism, it is impossible to swap all seven streams in less than forty-nine hours.

During this three day transition, the new Keeper builds within the composition created by the previous artist, gradually making it their own.

Ghost Streams

If the Keeper misses any of the upload windows, the system engages a fail-safe algorithm that replaces any one of the streams with one randomly selected from the historical archive of musical streams of all former Flame Keepers. The results might be harmonious, cacophonous, anodyne, or expressive, yet always surprising.

If left completely abandoned, the composition will evolve with unpredictable results, continuously.

Flash Back

Use this feature to travel back in time to experience any Keeper's work.

Meet The Team


Jakub Ciupinski

Composer and Creator of Flame Keepers

Jakub Ciupinski is a Polish composer living in New York City. Although his music is often associated with electronics and interactive performances, he has written numerous pieces for traditional acoustic forces, varying in scope from solo miniatures to symphonic works. Jakub has collaborated with Metropolis Ensemble since 2009.

Andrew Cyr

Founder/Artistic Director, Metropolis Ensemble

Grammy-nominated conductor Andrew Cyr (“a prominent influence in the world of newly emerging music”, The Washington Post) founded Metropolis Ensemble in 2006 to support ascending contemporary composers and performers through the creation of new work.

Avneesh Sarwate

Developer

Avneesh Sarwate is a programmer, musician, and multimedia artist working in the fields of audiovisual performance, installations, and interface design.

Ryan Rose

Developer

Ryan Rose is a software engineer and saxophonist living in Cambridge, MA. His work explores musical expression through robots, physical installations, connected web experiences, and more.

Daniel McKemie

Developer

Daniel McKemie is an electronic musician, percussionist, and composer based in New York City. Currently, he is focusing on technology that seeks to utilize the internet and browser technology to realize a more accessible platform for multimedia art.