Celebrated composer and bandleader Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society is a Grammy-nominated, 18-piece big band of New York’s best and brightest improvisers. For Cal Performances at Home, Argue, librettist Isaac Butler, and film director Peter Nigrini have gone back into the recording studio with “The Secret Society” to create an immersive made-for-video adaptation of Argue’s acclaimed Real Enemies—a multimedia work mixing visuals, text, and music to explore the American fascination with conspiracy theories. Taking his title from a 2009 book by Kathryn Olmsted (Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11), Argue has created a multimovement suite packed with plots and paranoia, “a work of furious ambition that feels deeply in tune with our present moment” (The New York Times). Argue’s eclectic music combines traditional jazz with postwar serialism, Latin rhythms, film noir orchestrations, and rock sonorities, deploying a clever mix of distinctly American musical styles to explore everything from the Red Scare to the surveillance state, mind control to fake moon landings, FBI schemes to alien sightings.

This performance is part of the Illuminations: Fact or Fiction series.

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PHOTO 1
Pictured: Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society performs Real Enemies as part of Cal Performances at Home, streaming premiere Wednesday, October 21 at 7pm PDT; performance available for three months following the premiere (subject to change). Pictured: Darcy James Argue.
(credit: Courtesy of Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society)
PHOTO 2
Pictured: Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society performs Real Enemies as part of Cal Performances at Home, streaming premiere Wednesday, October 21 at 7pm PDT; performance available for three months following the premiere (subject to change).
(credit: Courtesy of Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society)
PHOTO 3
Pictured: Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society performs Real Enemies as part of Cal Performances at Home, streaming premiere Wednesday, October 21 at 7pm PDT; performance available for three months following the premiere (subject to change).
(credit: Courtesy of Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society)
Darcy James Argues Secret Society
PHOTO 4
Pictured: Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society performs Real Enemies as part of Cal Performances at Home, streaming premiere Wednesday, October 21 at 7pm PDT; performance available for three months following the premiere (subject to change).
(credit: Courtesy of Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society)