2014/15 RICHARD AND BARBARA DEBS COMPOSER’S CHAIR COMPOSER MEREDITH MONK CELEBRATES 50 YEARS OF MUSICAL INNOVATION WITH CONCERTS AND PERFORMANCES THROUGHOUT NEW YORK CITY, BEGINNING NOVEMBER 20
To visit Meredith Monk’s West Broadway loft, you used to have to call upstairs from a pay phone, and she would throw down a sock with the key to the building tucked inside. Then once inside, you’d trudge up five very long flights of stairs. Later there was a buzzer, and this year, an elevator arrived to carry you up. The change is symbolic of a career that has gone from performances for devoted, cult-like audiences to opera houses echoing with applause, and awards that could fill every nook and cranny of that same loft.
New York City will resound with the sound of Meredith Monk’s music as her 50th anniversary is celebrated far and wide in venues large and small—from (Le) Poisson Rouge to Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall to its Weill Recital and Stern Auditorium to BAM’s Harvey Theater—over the next year.
The spectacular musical celebration opens, appropriately, on the composer’s 72nd birthday, November 20, with a concert at (Le) Poisson Rouge that features Ursula Oppens and Bruce Brubaker performing Monk’s piano music composed between 1972 and 2006, with several new arrangements by Monk and Brubaker. The range of Monk’s keyboard imagination will be front and center at (Le) Poisson Rouge, as it is on her most recent CD, “Piano Songs,” which was released by ECM on May 6th.
The following evening, November 21, the American Composers Orchestra, along with members of Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble will perform Monk’s much-heralded “Night” at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall. “Night” was originally a part of Monk’s music theater oratorio “The Politics of Quiet.” She revised and orchestrated it in 2010 for eight vocalists and chamber orchestra.
“On Behalf of Nature,” Monk’s poetic inquiry into our relationship to nature and the fragility of the earth’s ecology, receives its New York premiere as part of BAM’s Next Wave Festival, December 3-7. Quick recognize her radical genius and her pioneering interdisciplinary work, BAM has presented nine of her works since 1976.
Her New York appearances continue through the spring with a concert on February 16 at Weill Recital Hall, where the vibrant Ensemble ACJW presents a Monk premiere (title to come) for eight instrumentalists.
The St. Louis Symphony and Chorus will be joined by longtime members of Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble Theo Bleckmann and Katie Geissinger for the New York premiere of Monk’s 2010 “WEAVE for Two Voices, Chamber Orchestra and Chorus.” The 22-minute composition was originally commissioned by Grand Center, Inc. and the Los Angeles Master Chorale, who presented the Los Angeles premiere at Disney Hall in 2010. The concert takes place on March 20, at Carnegie’s 2804-seat Stern Auditorium.
A sampling of Meredith Monk’s friends from all corners of the music world—opera star Jessye Norman, music man-about-town DJ Spooky, saxophonist/composer John Zorn, clarinet player Don Byron, composer/percussionist Lukas Ligeti, Bang on a Can All-Stars, violinist Todd Reynolds, percussionist John Hollenbeck, violist Nadia Sirota, composer/keyboardist Missy Mazzoli and Victoire, among others will join Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble in a four-hour celebration of the dazzling array of her work at Zankel Hall on March 22.
Then five weeks later, May 2, Zankel Hall will again be filled with Monk’s music, this time performed by former and present vocalists and instrumentalists of her Ensemble. Classic hits from the seventies and eighties, as well as selections from Monk’s most recent master works, “On Behalf of Nature, “impermanence” and “mercy,” are being readied for a concert that goes forward and backward in time, celebrating an artist who has proven herself timeless.
MEREDITH MONK is a composer, singer, director/choreographer and creator of new opera, music-theater works, films and installations. A pioneer in what is now called “extended vocal technique” and “interdisciplinary performance,” Monk creates works that thrive at the intersection of music and movement, image and object, light and sound in an effort to discover and weave together new modes of perception. Her groundbreaking exploration of the voice as an instrument, as an eloquent language in and of itself, expands the boundaries of musical composition, creating landscapes of sound that unearth feelings, energies, and memories for which there are no words. Over the last five decades, she has been hailed as “a magician of the voice” and “one of America’s coolest composers”. Celebrated internationally, Monk’s work has been presented by BAM, Lincoln Center Festival, Houston Grand Opera, London’s Barbican Centre, and at major venues in countries from Brazil to Syria. Among her many accolades, she was recently named an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by the Republic of France, and the 2012 Composer of the Year by Musical America. Monk is also one of NPR’s 50 Great Voices, and has received a 2012 Doris Duke Artist Award and a 2011 Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award for the Arts.
In 1968 Ms. Monk founded The House, a company dedicated to an interdisciplinary approach to performance. In 1978 she founded Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble to expand her musical textures and forms. As a pioneer in site-specific performance, she has created such works as Juice: A Theatre Cantata In 3 Installments (1969) and Ascension Variations (2009) for the Guggenheim Museum, and American Archeology #1: Roosevelt Island (1994). Monk’s award-winning films, including Ellis Island (1981) and her first feature, Book of Days (1988), have been seen throughout the world. Her music can also be heard in films by such directors as Jean-Luc Godard and the Coen Brothers. In addition to her numerous vocal pieces, music-theater works and operas, Monk has created vital new repertoire for orchestra, chamber ensembles, and solo instruments, with commissions from Michael Tilson Thomas/San Francisco Symphony and New World Symphony, Kronos Quartet, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and Los Angeles Master Chorale, among others.
Since graduating Sarah Lawrence College in 1964, Monk has received numerous honors including the prestigious MacArthur “Genius” Award, two Guggenheim Fellowships, three “Obies” (including an award for Sustained Achievement), and two “Bessie” awards for Sustained Creative Achievement. She holds honorary Doctor of Arts degrees from Bard College, the University of the Arts, The Juilliard School, the San Francisco Art Institute and the Boston Conservatory. Monk has made more than a dozen recordings, most of which are on the ECM New Series label, including the 2008 Grammy-nominated impermanence and the highly acclaimed Songs of Ascension. She has also been working with the publisher Boosey & Hawkes since 2001.
In October 1999 Monk performed A Vocal Offering for His Holiness, the Dalai Lama as part of the World Festival of Sacred Music in Los Angeles. Her 40th year of performing and creating new music was celebrated in 2005 by a four-hour marathon at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, with additional performances throughout New York City. In February 2012 she was honored with a remix and interpretations cd, MONK MIX, featuring 25 artists from the jazz, pop, dj and new music worlds. In March 2012, she premiered Realm Variations for six voices and small ensemble, commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony, and performed in John Cage’s Song Books as part of the Symphony’s American Mavericks Festival. Monk’s newest music-theater piece, On Behalf of Nature, premiered in January 2013 at UCLA and is currently touring internationally. This fall, Meredith Monk will mark her 50th season as a creator and performer. Recognized as one of the most unique and influential artists of her generation, she has been appointed the 2014-2015 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall. www.meredithmonk.org
“WEAVE for Two Voices, Chamber Orchestra and Chorus” was jointly commissioned by Grand Center, Inc. and Los Angeles Master Chorale.
“Night” was commissioned by The House Foundation for the Arts with funds provided by the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Commissioning funds for the development of “On Behalf of Nature” were provided by The Brooklyn Academy of Music for the 2014 Next Wave Festival, ASCAP/American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers, The National Endowment for the Arts, New Music USA, and NYSCA. Developmental support through residencies for On Behalf of Nature was generously provided by UCLA CAP, Centre Culturel Andre Malraux (Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy, France), Le Théâtre De Lorient, Centre Dramatique National (Lorient, France), Park Avenue Armory, Duke University, and Roulette Intermedium.
The ACJW premiere was commissioned by Carnegie Hall for Ensemble ACJW- The Academy, a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute in partnership with the New York City Department of Education.
LEFT SIDE:: L-R:: ©Julieta Cervantes, ©Sidney Chen, ©Julieta Cervantes, ©Johan Elbers, MIDDLE:: ©Julieta Cervantes
RIGHT SIDE:: L-R:: ©Peter Ross, ©Julieta Cervantes, © David Heald, ©Julieta Cervantes