Famed Composer Meredith Monk with Vocal Ensemble at Bard Fisher Center’s Sosnoff Theater

by Editorial Staff

The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, New Albion Records, and The House Foundation for the Arts present Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble on Friday, November 9 and Saturday, November 10 at 8 p.m.

Composer/​performer Meredith Monk has been deemed “a magician of the voice” and “one of America’s coolest composers,” amazing audiences across the globe with her genre spanning compositions for more than 45 years.

She may loom even larger as the new century unfolds, and later generations will envy those who got to see her live.” — The New Yorker.

Monk’s groundbreaking exploration of the voice as an instrument, as an eloquent language in and of itself, expands the boundaries of musical composition.

Well before just about every choreographer on the planet declared their allegiance to multidisciplinary work,” proclaims the New York Times, “Meredith Monk was creating pieces that defied characterization in their use of song, speech, movement, film, and images.”

Meredith Monk

Meredith Monk, photo by Jesse Frohman


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 2012 Composer of the Year by Musical America, a 2012 Doris Duke Artist, and one of NPR’s 50 Great Voices. She also received a 2011 Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award for the Arts.

In 1968 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/​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), two Villager Awards, 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. 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. Monk’s 40th year of performing and creating new music was celebrated in 2005 by a four-​​hour marathon at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall. In February she honored with a remix and interpretations CD, MONK MIX, featuring 25 artists from the jazz, pop, dj and new music worlds. In March, she premiered her newest piece for six voices and mixed ensemble, Realm Variations, commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony and performed in John Cage’s Song Books as part of the Symphony’s American Mavericks Festival. Monk is currently developing a new music-​​theater work, On Behalf of Nature, to première in 2013.

Meredith Monk Ensemble

Meredith Monk Ensemble; Bodhan Hilash, Allison Sniffin, Meredith Monk, Katie Geissinger, photo: © 2012 Musée du Louvre /​ Olivier Ouadah


The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, an environment for world-​​class artistic presentation in the Hudson Valley, was designed by Frank Gehry and opened in 2003. Risk-​​taking performances and provocative programs take place in the 800-​​seat Sosnoff Theater, a proscenium-​​arch space, and in the 220-​​seat Theater Two, which features a flexible seating configuration. The Center is home to Bard College’s Dance Program and Theater and Performance Program, and host to two annual summer festivals: SummerScape, which offers opera, dance, theater, operetta, film, and cabaret; and the Bard Music Festival, which celebrated its 23rd year in August with “Saint-​​Saëns and His World.” The 2013 festival will be devoted to Igor Stravinsky, with a special weekend focusing on the works of Duke Ellington.


$45, $35, $25, and $15, and can be ordered online at fishercenter​.bard​.edu or by calling the box office at 845 – 758-​​7900.

 featured image at top of page; photo by John Bleckman

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