Musical and theatrical battle between beer fiddlers and art pipers.

The Inquisitive Musician

Cindy Bernard

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During the Holland Festival the Stedelijk Museum will be alive with a battle between ‘beer fiddlers’ and ‘art pipers’. The American artist Cindy Bernard collaborating with New York / New Zealand musician David Watson adapted composer Johann Kuhnau’s 17th century German satire Musicus Curiosus for a 21st century audience, centering on the perennial struggle between the academically trained artist and those who play by ear. The issue at hand? Who is the better musician – the state sponsored ‘Kunstpfeifer’ or the improvising ‘Beerfiddler,’ performing in taverns? It’s a ongoing confrontation between two cultures which finds a merry continuation with this performance featuring live music, spoken word and video at the Stedelijk.

It's a scandal that these warblers enjoy such freedom.

Paulus Harmonicus, Kunstpfeifer


Cindy Bernard takes an active interest in instigating social exchange. In the last several years her work has transitioned from photographs and projections exploring cinema, memory, and landscape (including the widely exhibited series Ask the Dust) to projects which focus on sound and music as a part of a visual practice. She is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the J. Paul Getty Trust Fund for the Visual Arts, the California Community Foundation, Anonymous was a Woman, Creative Capital, the Harpo Foundation and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation among others. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries in the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe, and Japan, and was included in the Whitney and Lyon Biennials. In Los Angeles, Ask the Dust was most recently on view in Collection: The First 30 Years at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. In 1999, Bernard founded the experimental music series sound. which later incorporated as a non profit, The Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound (SASSAS). She has produced more than 50 concerts for SASSAS, many at the historic Schindler House in West Hollywood. The unique blend of architecture, audience and performer at the Schindler House led to her current exploration of sound and music, not as mediums – she does not claim to be a sound artist – but as facilitators for works that incorporate issues of community, class, economics and politics. Bernard’s most recent project for SASSAS, Welcome Inn Time Machine, transformed the rooms of a local motel into a tour of Los Angeles experimental music between 1949 – 1977 for the Pacific Standard Time Public Art and Performance Festival.

Recent solo projects include: Year Long Loop, a 24 hour video which tracks one year of landscape and sound as experienced from a ridge overlooking several northeastern Los Angeles neighborhoods; Silent Key, a mapping of the transitory nature of territorial and political boundaries via Ham Radio QSL cards and The Inquisitive Musician, an adaptation of a 17th century German satire pitting itinerant ‘beer fiddlers’ against the city sanctioned ‘Kunstpfeifer’ in an argument over who has the right to perform. Presented as a staged read incorporating video and live music, The Inquisitive Musician was most recently performed at Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Bernard is an Associate Professor in Graduate Fine Art at Art Center College of Art and Design (adjunct).


a project by
Cindy Bernard
translation, adaptation
Cindy Bernard
David Hatcher
musical direction
David Watson
Steve Heather, percussion
Paulus Harmonicus, Kunstpfeifer
Thijs van Leer, flute
Enantius, Kunstpfeifer
Alison Isadora, violin
Pechmann, Beerfiddler
G.W. Sok, voice
Bocks-Märten, Beerfiddler
David Watson, bagpipes
Snortel Hansel, Beerfiddler
Felicity Provan, trumpet
Schiefer Barthel, Beerfiddler
Seamus Cater, concertina
Bona, de herbergier
Hilary Jeffrey, trombone
Count Musophilus, rechter
Frans de Ruiter, Clavichord or Harpsichord (tbd)