The Rube Goldberg Variations

Thu 4/25 - Sat 4/27 8:00pm
Sat 4/27 2:00pm
Sun 4/28 6:00pm
New Hazlett Theater (6 Allegheny Square E, Pittsburgh, PA 15212)

Simplicity, ingeniously complicated.

In a neighborly feud, a small gesture adds fuel to the fire: a parking chair, a noise complaint, a sign placed just too close. As two neighbors face off over their apparent differences, notions of identity clash until a whimsical chain of events reminds them that getting along is better than getting even. Inspiration drawn from the uncanny world of cartoonist, Rube Goldberg merges with J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations, as musical and choreographic vignettes create an ingeniously complicated machine that reveals the simplicity of human connection.
Featuring live musical accompaniment by pianist Nathan Carterette, and original compositions and recorded music by Flavio Chamis, Dave Eggar, and Chuck Palmer, this world premiere juxtaposes the classical with the contemporary, bridging two worlds through variations that divide and ultimately unite.


$15 Artists, Seniors, Students, and Teachers
$30 General Admission
$45 Directors Seats
All ticket prices increase by $5 at the door.


Saturday, April 27, 2019 | 2:00pm (Pay what moves you)

About Bach's Goldberg Variations

Written in 1742 and originally performed by harpsichordist, Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, the Goldberg Variations is Bach’s only work composed in the variations form. For Attack Theatre's newest work, Latin GRAMMY Award-nominated composer, Flavio Chamis will provide music direction and original compositions to expand on Bach's musical score, performed on piano by Nathan Carterette. New York City-based Dave Eggar and Chuck Palmer will also compose short recorded pieces as variations on Bach’s original concept. These will be infused throughout the work to add a 21st century perspective, supporting a series of vignettes that explore the emotional and socio-political complexities of contemporary life.

“After deeply delving into this project, I see the Goldberg Variations as a 32 piece Rube Goldberg musical contraption. There is a permanent flow of musical ideas moving forward, all tracked on a recurring bass line which is the conduit of the whole piece. Each variation carries forward from the previous one, steering at the same time to the next. The marvel of this process is the final task of this chain-reaction-journey: a return to right where we started - the glorious Aria - but then we are the ones forever changed by our Odyssey.”

–Flavio Chamis

About Rube Goldberg

This performance comes on the heels of a five-month artistic investigation of Children's Museum of Pittsburgh's recent exhibition, Rube Goldberg: The World of Hilarious Invention. Through a series of creative movement workshops conducted with museum visitors, Attack Theatre company dancers were able to draw inspiration from the uncanny inventions and imaginative storytelling of cartoonist, Rube Goldberg.

Throughout American history the role of the cartoonist has been to highlight society’s changes and challenges, and to make them accessible to everyone. Rube Goldberg was a master of this. His cartoons were funny, sad, and ultimately humanizing, presenting a fantastical parody of the quest for automation and convenience. The Rube Goldberg Variations will leverage the spirit of Goldberg's convoluted contraptions and satirical social commentary to present a passionate portrayal of everyday life.

About the Artists

 Flavio Chamis, Music Director and Composer

A native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Flavio Chamis began his formal training in conducting and composition at the Rubin Academy of Music (Tel Aviv University) under S. Ronli Riklis and Zubin Mehta of the Israel Philharmonic. He continued his studies with Martin Stephani in Detmold, Germany, graduating from the Nordwestdeutsche Musikakademie.

Mr. Chamis has served as the Music Director of Villa Lobos Ensemble (Austria) and Porto Alegre Symphony Orchestra (Brazil). In addition to his work with the Radio Sinfonie Orchester Berlin and the Nouvelle Philharmonique de Radio France, Chamis’ European engagements have included, among many others, performances at the Musikverein (Vienna), the Wiener Festwochen and the Royal Festival Hall in London.

In 1985, Chamis was named conducting assistant to Leonard Bernstein, and led the Israel Philharmonic in preparation for tours of Europe, Japan, and the United States, featuring performances of Mahler’s 9th Symphony. The following year in New York, he conducted the rehearsals for the world premiere of Bernstein’s Jubilee Games, later renamed Concerto for Orchestra. In 1989, he again assisted Maestro Bernstein, this time on the European tour of the London Symphony Orchestra.

Chamis has collaborated with such highly acclaimed international soloists as Mischa Maisky, Paul Badura Skoda, Ileana Cotrubas, Bruno Leonardo Gelber, Dang Thai-Son, Ransom Wilson, Antonio Meneses, Jean Louis Steuerman and Arnaldo Cohen, among others. He has also participated in numerous international music festivals, including the Tanglewood Music Festival, Bayreuther Festspiel, and Schleswig Holstein Music Festival.

As a composer, his works embrace a wide range of styles, from solo, chamber, and symphonic pieces, to jazz and Brazilian music. This versatile musician has also written the text for many of his vocal compositions. “Especiaria”, a Latin Grammy nominated CD exclusively with Mr. Chamis’ Brazilian Jazz compositions has been released by the Brazilian label Biscoito Fino. In 2007 Flavio Chamis received the International Press Award as Outstanding Brazilian Musician based in the U.S. Since 2008, Mr. Chamis has been a permanent member of the Screening Committee of the Latin Grammy.

Flavio resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with his wife Tatjana, acting Principal violist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and their three children. He speaks fluent English, Spanish, Portuguese, and German, with conversational abilities in French and Italian.


Nathan Carterette, Pianist

Hailed as "wonderfully poetic," (Westfalen Post) and “very compelling in his power and presence” (International Composer), Nathan Carterette has distinguished himself in the concert world by performing a huge range of works from Elizabethan keyboard music to music written today. His innovative programming has inspired audiences to approach unfamiliar music with open ears, and familiar music with new appreciation. 

Nathan was a long-time resident of Pittsburgh, where he established the First Friday series and the annual Bach’s Birthday at the Church of the Redeemer in Squirrel Hill. He was heard frequently on WQED 89.3, including a live-broadcast performance of the Goldberg Variations from the Mr Rogers Studio in 2015.

In the Fall of 2018, Nathan traveled the country on a 25-city tour with ‘Poets of the Piano,’ a recital series dedicated to narrative themes in piano music. The four programs that made up the series explored the effect of immigration on music; artistic encounters that led to re-inventions and new inspiration; ghosts and spirits depicted in music; and expressions of faith. 

Nathan studied at Yale University and privately in Munich with composer-pianist Dafydd Llywelyn. For more information, please visit



The Rube Goldberg Variations is made possible in part by: 

Children's Museum of Pittsburgh

Rube Goldberg, Inc. a Not for Profit 501c3