“All music drama is a kind of betrayal.” —Olivier Messiaen
Drum legend Bobby Previte’s young electric band the Coalition of the Willing crashes into the mystical voices of the Rose Ensemble in The Separation, a reimagination of both Guillaume Dufay’s 15th-century choral epic Missa Sancti Jacobi and Olivier Messiaen’s organ masterwork La Nativité du Seigneur. Playwright/director Andrea Kleine’s dark parable about a sheep and a UFO invades Previte’s wall of sound. Hungarian designer Anna Kiraly illuminates this heavy metal requiem with her shadowy installations. Commissioned by the Walker Art Center, The Separation has its world premiere Friday–Saturday, February 2–3, at 8 pm in the William and Nadine McGuire Theater.
Bobby Previte began his life in music as a great way to meet girls, but then fell in love with the drums instead. At 13, he fashioned his first set out of a rusted iron garbage can turned on its side (the bass drum), four upside-down rubber trash bins (the toms), a box with loose junk rattling around inside (the snare), three plungers with aluminum pie plates nailed on top (the cymbals), and two pieces of linoleum crimped together, stuck through with a wire coat hanger wound into a spring, crowned with a rubber ball on top (the kick pedal)—and for hours on end would play to records in his dark basement with a lone spotlight shining on him. Eventually hired by a band, he rehearsed with them for a year, only to get fired the day of the first booking for not having “real” drums. After this experience he decided to strike out on his own, and has been doing so ever since.
Brought up playing soul and rock music in the old bars, clubs, and bordellos of Niagara Falls, NY, Previte later studied formally at the University of Buffalo, which boasted musicians John Cage, Lucas Foss, Morton Feldman, and Jan Williams. He then ran head on into Miles Davis, Edgard Varèse, Charles Mingus, Terry Reilly, Abstract Expressionism, Igor Stravinsky, Frank Lloyd Wright, George Balanchine, and William Faulkner. Previte moved to New York City in 1979, quickly meeting the leading lights of the “Downtown” scene. For 25 years he has remained a leader, widely hailed for his electrifying drumming and his stunning, unclassifiable compositions. He has played an astonishing range of genres and venues, from the Palace Burlesque House in Buffalo, NY, to country music at Gloria’s Corral Club in the Kentucky backwoods to Carnegie Hall, and has presented his music at major festivals around the world, from Europe to Russia, Japan to South America, and back. The subject of articles in the world’s major publications as well as in many books on music, Previte leads several bands and has added the electronic drums to his ever-widening arsenal.
Andrea Kleine’s work as a playwright and director has been presented extensively in New York City as well as across the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Kleine is best known for her experimental and multidisciplinary plays which thematically focus on memory, identity, intimacy, and the failure of language. Her most recent play, Claude, explored the life and work of the surrealist photographer Claude Cahun. Other recent works include Wayward Girls Assistance, a Dickensian tale of a girl gang of struggling actresses; Memoir Never Was, exploring Anne Frank and the psychology of confinement; and Flesh Food, a macabre farce of vintage horror films. Her works for the stage have been presented at venues such as the Duke Theater on 42nd Street, Performance Space 122, the Kitchen, Mabou Mines, Women’s Project Theater, and Ensemble Studio Theater.
Kleine has received numerous commissions, grants, and awards from the Jerome Foundation, the Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation, the Fox/Samuels Foundation, and the New York State Council on the Arts, among others. She was a member of the Lincoln Center Theater’s Directors Lab and The Women’s Project Playwrights Lab, was a Movement Research artist-in-residence, a Mabou Mines artist-in-residence, and was awarded 2003 and 2005 MacDowell Colony fellowships. She was recently awarded a 2004 New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) fellowship for playwriting/screenwriting.
Kleine co-directed the short film Murmur, which was an official selection of the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. Her film adaptation of her play Claude was a finalist in the 2004 Slamdance Screenplay Competition and a featured script at the 2005 Independent Feature Project (IFP) Market in New York. She recently completed her first novel, Calf.
The Rose Ensemble
The Rose Ensemble is a daring and inventive vocal ensemble performing and preserving ancient music and honoring history, world cultures, and religions. Founded in 1996 and based in St. Paul, MN, the group has reinvented early music in the concert hall with magical performances of Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music combined with ancient stories and legends. Under the leadership of founder and Artistic Director Jordan Sramek, the musicians of The Rose Ensemble have gained widespread critical acclaim for their live performances and recordings of early music—including works never before performed in North America—but are also considered champions for new music, commissioning, and premiering new works every season. The group has made seven independently produced recordings and maintains an active international touring schedule filled with performances, workshops, and educational programs. The Rose Ensemble is the recipient of the 2005 Chorus America Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence.
Tickets to The Separation are $25 ($20 Walker members) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600.
Lecture/Demonstration: Bobby Previte
Saturday, February 3, 2 pm
Free, but reservations required; call 612.375.7600
In a workshop that’s equal parts lecture, Q&A, and demonstration, Previte shares the concepts that have shaped his art and his life, using works by John Cage, Igor Stravinsky, Claude Debussy, Miles Davis, William Faulkner, Led Zeppelin, Gregory Bateson, George Balanchine, Mies van der Rohe, and Napoleon as touchstones.