“She dared listeners to deny that a cello possesses the power of speech. Beiser has the power to bestride oceans and pluck the common utterance from regions thousands of miles apart.”—Newsday
Internationally acclaimed cellist/former Bang on a Can All-Star Maya Beiser takes the cello to uncharted territories, merging classical, electronic, rock, and global sounds. In an evening entitled Almost Human, performed at 8 pm Friday, December 1, at the Walker Art Center’s William and Nadine McGuire Theater, she explores music inspired by ancient vocal traditions—Renaissance madrigals, traditional Chinese and Taiwanese styles, Moroccan chants, Jewish cantorial songs, and ritualistic Indian works. The program includes the much-awaited Midwest debut of I’m Writing to You From a Far Off Country, a Walker-commissioned collaboration between Beiser, composer Eve Beglarian (Forgiveness), and visual artist Shirin Neshat, whose stunning film footage complements the performance. Pieces by Michael Gordon (Bang on a Can), Tan Dun (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero), and Brett Dean (with an appearance by special guests, members of the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers) are also illuminated by Beiser’s interpretive mastery.
Described by The New Yorker as a “cello goddess” and by the San Francisco Chronicle as “the queen of post-minimalist cello,” Maya Beiser has captivated audiences worldwide with her virtuosity, eclectic repertoire, and relentless quest to redefine her instrument’s boundaries. Over the past decade, she as created a new repertoire for cello, commissioning and performing many works written for her by today’s leading composers. Most recently, she has collaborated with composers Louis Andriessen, Tan Dun, Brian Eno, Philip Glass, Osvaldo Golijov, Steve Reich, and Simon Shaheen, among many others. Beiser toured this past season as the featured soloist of Philip Glass’ Naqoygatsi, performing with the Philip Glass Ensemble at the Sydney Opera House, Lincoln Center, the World Expo in Nagoya, Japan, and in Barcelona, Paris, and San Francisco.
Beiser’s critically acclaimed multimedia concert World To Come premiered in October 2003 at the Krannert Center in Illinois, and as part of the inaugural season of Carnegie Hall’s new venue, Zankel Hall. Highlights of her subsequent World To Come tour included performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., UCLA’s Royce Hall, the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, and the Ravinia Festival in Chicago. She premiered her new project, Almost Human, at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall to a sold-out house in March 2006. Engagements in the 2006–2007 season include her debut performance at London’s Barbican Hall, return appearances at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, as well as concerts at major venues in Atlanta, Chicago, and Seattle.
Beiser’s performance of Steve Reich’s Cello Counterpoint is featured on the recent Nonesuch CD You Are, chosen by the New York Times as one of the top albums of 2005. She is also the soloist on the Sony Classical CD release of Tan Dun’s Water Passion. She has performed as soloist with orchestras and major ensembles around the globe, including the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Montreal Symphony, Sydney Symphony, China Philharmonic, and the Bach Akadmie, Stuttgart. She has released three solo CDs with Koch Classics, including Oblivion, Kinship, and World To Come.
Raised on a kibbutz in Israel by her French mother and Argentinean father, Maya Beiser is a graduate of Yale University. She studied with Aldo Parisot, Uzi Weizel, Alexander Schneider, and Isaac Stern. She was the founding cellist of the legendary new music ensemble Bang on a Can All-Stars.
I’m Writing to You From a Far Off Country was co-commissioned by the Walker Art Center with support provided by the William and Nadine McGuire Commissioning Fund.
Tickets to Almost Human are $25 ($20 Walker members) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600.