“The Walker Art Center is one of the great, enlightened institutions in the United States. Since the early 1970s, I have felt completely supported working with the impeccable curatorial and technical staff. They have retained a deep sense of integrity, the highest standards, and continually provide room to explore, imagine, and create connections between the visual and performing arts. The William and Nadine McGuire Theater is an ideal space – one that is flexible, has good sightlines and acoustics, provides a combination of intimacy and scope, and that allows an audience to perceive a sense of landscape without the usual limitations of a proscenium stage. The Walker has consistently been fearless, boundary breaking, and a leading proponent of an idea that I have always felt very strongly about – that art is as natural and essential as breathing.”
– Meredith Monk
“Reading about the Walker’s new Performing Arts season is always like opening a Christmas present from someone who knows how to shop, spares no expense, and has a fantastically active imagination.”
–Pamela Espeland, Minn Post
Minneapolis, June 9, 2015—The Walker Art Center announces its 2015–2016 performing arts season today, featuring contemporary dance, theater, and music artists from around the globe. Philip Bither, McGuire Senior Curator, Performing Arts, comments: “The 24 distinct performance projects in the Walker’s 2015-16 season represent some of the most compelling, provocative and engaging performance events anywhere. Spanning a diverse spectrum of contemporary dance, performance and new music projects, the season boasts an array of new commissions, world premieres, unique interdisciplinary collaborations, and specially devised evenings curated and developed by the Walker in close collaboration with the creators. I am deeply inspired by the artists we have selected for this coming season —they are engaged with the world and are helping us see, feel, and think in new ways. I am also thrilled by the growing excitement Minnesota audiences are showing for this type of adventurous programming (last year, we had more sell-out projects than we have had in a decade) and humbled at how many national performing art organizations, and increasingly contemporary art museums, seem to be looking at the Walker as a model of how to creatively curate a season, support artists, and deeply engage with communities. We are heartened as well with our expanding partnerships with SPCO’s Liquid Music Series with whom we are co-presenting five events and The Cedar who is our partner on three others, as well as new co-presenting projects with The O’Shaughnessy Auditorium and Givens Foundation for African-American Literature.”
The Walker’s 2015-2016 Performing Arts season opens with a world premiere of a Walker-commissioned major new work by choreographer Sarah Michelson, tournamento, Thursday–Sunday, September 24–27. Michelson is acclaimed for visually striking, expansive spectacles such as Daylight (For Minneapolis)—a Walker premiere in 2005 commissioned to open the first full season in the Walker’s building expansion designed by Herzog and de Meuron 10 years ago. Dance Magazine noted, Michelson “responded with insouciance and brilliance to the Swiss firm’s architectural theories…In her structural and perceptual reconfiguration of the Walker’s brand-new theater (an audacious move), Michelson explored the architects’ concepts of the hidden and the revealed, while upending traditional audience expectations.”
The Walker’s 2015-2016 performing arts season also features three additional commissions including Spiritual America, a collaboration between Baltimore-based indie rock duo Wye Oak and Brooklyn-based composer William Brittelle with special guest violinist Michi Wiancko, (Wednesday, October 14, 7:30 pm) a copresentation with the SPCO’s Liquid Music Series; the world premiere of Aging Magician by rising alt-classical composer Paola Prestini, directed Julian Crouch (Improbable Theatre) and featuring composer/vocalist Rinde Eckert, and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus (Saturday, March 5, 8 pm; Sunday, March 6, 2 pm); and choreographer Trajal Harrell’s US premiere of The Ghost of Montpellier Meets the Samurai, his newest creation based on an imaginary meeting between Butoh dance founder Tatsumi Hijikata, leader of French Nouvelle Danse Dominique Bagouet, and La Mama ETC founder/namesake Ellen Stewart (March 11–13, Friday–Saturday, 8 pm; Sunday, 7 pm).
Other season highlights include, Wind Grove Mind Alone: Devendra Banhart & Friends, two unique evenings of music created by the singer/songwriter/painter developed in creative partnership with the Walker and SPCO’s Liquid Music Series (Friday and Saturday, May 13 and 14); scratch DJ/music producer Kid Koala’s Nufonia Must Fall (Friday and Saturday, April 1 and 2, 8 pm); two of the most iconic female music/performance artists of our time: Meredith Monk, celebrating her 50th year as a performing innovator, (Friday, April 15, 8pm at The O’Shaughnessy) and Laurie Anderson performing The Language of the Future, (Saturday, March 19, 8 pm at the Fitzgerald Theater); and Immerse Yourself a new two-part performance platform that transforms the large McGuire stage into an immersive and intimate performance installation space featuring actor/illusionist/inventor Geoff Sobelle’s, The Object Lesson, (Wednesday–Friday, November 4–8) and choreographer Faye Driscoll’s, Thank You for Coming: Attendance, (Wednesday–Sunday, February 17–21). The season also features Midwest debut musical performances by the contemporary Irish music supergroup The Gloaming (Friday, October 9, 8 pm); the all-female Japanese noise-pop band OOIOO, (Thursday, December 3, 8 pm) and new African vocal star Noura Mint Seymali from Mauritania (Friday, February 19, 8 pm).
Performing Arts Season Preview
Thursday, September 10
William and Nadine McGuire Theater, 7 pm
Join Philip Bither, McGuire Senior Curator of Performing Arts, as he weaves the story of the upcoming season, complete with engaging personal anecdotes, exclusive videos from the artists, and behind-the-scenes insights on the Walker’s more than 20 dance, theater, music, and interdisciplinary programs from around the globe. A storyteller who holds audiences rapt with his descriptions of discovering new performances each year, he explains why every show he presents is his favorite.
WALKER ART CENTER’S 2015–2016
PERFORMING ARTS SEASON
Unless otherwise noted, all events take place in the William and Nadine McGuire Theater.
($) = ticket prices for Walker Art Center members
World Premiere/Walker Commission
Thursday–Sunday, September 24–27, 7 pm $28 ($24)
“Sarah Michelson is an artist you can trust, even if you’re not exactly sure what she’s doing. Her work can thrill you even when it’s making you uncomfortable—a risk she’s willing to take.”—Village Voice
The season launches with the world premiere of a new work by one of today’s most prominent and sought-after choreographers whose work is impacting the worlds of both contemporary dance and visual art. Groundbreaking New York–based innovator Sarah Michelson and her provocative dance-theater works are highly influential, spectacular to witness, and filled with conceptual mystery, high design, and music.
Friday, October 9, 8 pm $35 ($31)
Copresented with the Cedar
“Imagine if Brian Eno or even Sigur Rós played traditional Irish music … and you are coming close to the sound of the Gloaming.” —Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Forging new connections between the rich Irish folk tradition and the New York contemporary music scene, these virtuoso musicians make music that is sparse, authentic, and heartrending. Featuring New York pianist Thomas Bartlett (aka Doveman), Chicago guitarist Dennis Cahill, fiddle master Martin Hayes, hardanger fiddle innovator Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh, and Irish singer Iarla Ó Lionaird (Afro Celt Sound System). Catch one of only a few US dates by this critically adored all-star ensemble.
Wye Oak and William Brittelle: Spiritual America
with special guest Michi Wiancko
Wednesday, October 14, 7:30 pm $25 ($22 Walker members and SPCO Liquid Music Series subscribers)
Aria, 105 First Street North, Minneapolis
Copresented with the SPCO’s Liquid Music Series
“William Brittelle is creating a body of work that has no precedent, and marks him as one of the most promising heirs of the vital American maverick tradition.” —Classical TV
In a new set of engaging electro-acoustic art songs that employ rich classical orchestration and visceral pop appeal, Brooklyn-based composer William Brittelle explores secular spirituality in American culture. For Spiritual America, Brittelle collaborates with Baltimore-based indie rock duo Wye Oak, who create “moody, achy, beautifully blustery songs” (NPR). The program is anchored by world-premiere chamber arrangements by Brittelle and revered classical violinist/composer Michi Wiancko performing songs with Wye Oak from the duo’s recent album, Shriek. The program opens with a composition by Wiancko written for the event.
Thursday–Saturday, October 15–17, 8 pm
Thursday $20 ($18); Friday & Saturday $25 ($22)
Copresented with the Givens Foundation
“Mr. Moss layers national narratives and personal narratives, moving bodies and moving images, haunting songs and heated conversations in ways that leave us contemplating the future by way of the past.” —New York Times
In this dense and precisely executed work, Dean Moss creates a performative meditation on the complicated, controversial legacy of 19th-century abolitionist John Brown. Moss integrates transfixing choreography, visual design, video, theater, and community participation to question not only the turbulent past of a historical figure but also the racial, gender, and generational processes at play in the inquiry. This ambitious socio-historical critique offers a fascinating intersection of ideas, identities, and ideologies.
The Object Lesson
Part of Immerse Yourself: An on-stage performance installation series
Wednesday–Friday, 8 pm; Saturday, 2 and 8 pm; Sunday, 2 pm
Wednesday $20 ($18); Thursday – Sunday $25 ($22)
“This cunning show finds universal common ground in one man’s field of detritus. It’s a ruefully, comically sentimental piece that plucks a fleeting connective poetry in the seeming randomness of what we hoard.” —New York Times
In this comically moving one-man show, award-winning actor/illusionist/inventor Geoff Sobelle transforms the McGuire stage into an immersive and immense performance-installation that unpacks our relationship with everyday objects. Alone with a mountain of teetering boxes, a man reaches into the heap to investigate and meditate upon the artifacts of existence. Wander through the debris with Sobelle onstage for the search for the meaning of life in a lifetime’s collection of junk.
Tanya Tagaq in concert with Nanook of the North
Thursday & Friday, November 19–20, 8 pm $25 ($22)
Copresented with the Cedar
“Tagaq projects sounds that carry the imprint of the body’s secret contours and recesses, to summon voices from the flesh cavity haunts of animal spirits and primal energies.” —The Wire (UK)
Inuit throat singer and tour-de-force vocalist Tanya Tagaq reclaims the controversial 1922 silent film Nanook of the North in a live accompaniment to its clichéd images of life in an early 20th-century Inuit community in northern Quebec. Her combination of improvisation with traditional roots and her deep sense of life in the Arctic create a powerful soundscape of authentic emotion. Featuring percussionist Jean Martin and violinist Jesse Zubot.
Curated by Justin Jones
Saturday, November 28, 7 and 9:30 pm $25 ($22)
“As a snapshot of a community, the Walker Art Center’s Choreographers’ Evening might be the best annual curated event in Minnesota.” —VitaMN
From established dancemakers forging new ideas to the scene’s youngest and brightest, Choreographers’ Evening has, over the course of 40-plus years, become an honored rite of passage in Minnesota dance circles. Grab your friends and get the inside scoop on our thriving dance scene through this snappy sampler of works lasting seven minutes or less. Curator Justin Jones is a widely respected local dancer/choreographer/sound designer/teacher and all-around innovator.
Thursday, December 3, 8 pm $20 ($16)
“Bracing brilliance channeling the spirit of Yoko Ono, Le Tigre, Aphex Twin, and Alice Coltrane.” —New Musical Express (NME)
Catch a rare US appearance by the enigmatic Japanese avant-tribal-noise-pop collective OOIOO (oh-oh-eye-oh-oh). Under the intrepid leadership of Yoshimi P-We (cofounder of Japanese band Boredoms and the inspiration behind the Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots), the group has subverted expectations and warped perceptions of what constitutes pop and experimental music since the mid-1990s. Simply put, “It’s rugged, inspired, original music” (New York Times).
OUT THERE 2016
A Festival of Performance Alternatives
January 7–30, 8 pm
Thursday, $20 ($18); Friday–Saturday, $25 ($22)
See all four shows for $75 ($65 Walker members).
Thursday–Saturday, January 7–9
“More buoyant than theatrical material has any right to be…. The audience laughs—not with recognition or self-satisfaction, but with the purest kind of astonished delight.” —Time Out New York
On a hallucinatory road trip from the Badlands to Graceland, the spirits of Elvis Presley and Theodore Roosevelt battle over the soul of Ann, a painfully shy meat-processing plant worker, and what kind of man or woman Ann should become. Set against the boundless blue skies of the Great Plains and endless American highway, RoosevElvis is a playfully pointed new work about icons, gender, and role reversal all blended into “a spirited and insightful commentary on two archetypes of American masculinity” (New York Times).
A (radically condensed and expanded) Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again After David Foster Wallace
Thursday–Saturday, January 14–16
“Part séance, part theatrical eulogy, and part eerie karaoke show.” —Village Voice
Tennis balls fly as five actors grapple with random bursts of calisthenics and a relentless rush of words streaming from their headphones. This fresh, funny, and ultimately moving tribute to David Foster Wallace, one of the most radical and entertaining American writers of recent times, draws exclusively from his writings and recordings, all mixed live during the performance. Based on works from_ A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, Consider the Lobster, and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men_ by David Foster Wallace.
Produced with permission of the David Foster Wallace Literary Trust.
Riding on a Cloud
Thursday–Saturday, January 21–23
“Riding on a Cloud is an accomplished piece of theater, at once emotionally moving and bristling with intelligence, its story both intensely personal and utterly universal. —The Daily Star, Lebanon.
Based on his brother Yasser’s personal experiences during the Lebanese civil war, Rabih Mroué presents an idiosyncratic and moving performance combining prerecorded video, images, and text. Yasser himself is the primary performer; at age 23 he was shot in the head by a sniper. The impairments to his mental and physical functions prompted this engrossing meditation on the complex relationship between memory, fiction, and political reality. In Arabic with English surtitles.
Halory Goerger and Antoine Defoort
Thursday–Saturday, January 28–30
“I will simply say it is one of the most refreshing, exuberant, and clever explorations of human consciousness I have ever seen on the stage.”
Both absurdly charming and deeply philosophical in approach, Germinal asks how we would start the world from scratch if we had the opportunity to do so. And with that, four intrepid individuals begin with on a blank stage and gleefully rebuild life as we know it. Their tools include mind-melds, pickaxes, microphones, electric guitars, and four-part harmony. In Germinal, French artists Halory Goerger and Antoine Defoort move freely between theater, performance, and visual art and create one of the most internationally talked-about recent works in contemporary theater. In French with English surtitles.
Sound Horizon 2016
Thursday evenings, Free
February 11: Mary Halvorson
March 24: Vicky Chow and Tristan Perich
April 28: C. Spencer Yeh
Exploring the interstitial spaces between live sound and visual art, the ingallery
music series Sound Horizon returns with three of the country’s most
respected sonic adventurers. Intended for both close listening and moments
of happenstance for gallery-goers, this free, aurally eclectic series features
multiple short sets across the evening by each artist. In this sixth sparkling
season, join Mary Halvorson, “the most future-seeking guitarist working right
now,” who “think[s] out the instrument on a level most couldn’t comprehend”
(NPR); Vicky Chow and Tristan Perich, who create “a brilliant, glittering web
of piano and 1-bit electronics” (Wondering Sound); and C. Spencer Yeh,
about whom the Village Voice says, “The avant-garde stews in which Yeh
has dipped a hand, a violin bow, or a mixing board—unruly, loopy, or shrinkwrapped—
Vicky Chow and Tristan Perich are copresented with the SPCO’s Liquid
Thank You for Coming: Attendance
Part of Immerse Yourself: An on-stage performance installation series
Wednesday–Saturday, 8 pm; Sunday, 7 pm
Wednesday $20 ($18); Thursday–Sunday $25 ($22)
“Ms. Driscoll is fascinating in that she makes such utterly original work. It
doesn’t look like anything you’ve ever seen before, nor can you imagine
thinking it up.” —New York Times
New York-based choreographer Faye Driscoll takes audiences on a joyous
and intriguingly wild ride in the first work of her new trilogy that the Walker
will present over the next three years. Thank You for Coming: Attendance is
a cleverly crafted and playfully choreographic exploration that softens the
lines between spectator and participant with an invitation to the audience to
join an impromptu 90-minute community. Presented in an ingeniously
immersive setting on the McGuire stage, performers pass through evermorphing
states of physical entanglement and scenes of distorted familiarity, building new bodies, new stories, and new ways of being. Wear clean socks and get ready to be moved. (Participation optional).
Noura Mint Seymali
Friday, February 19, 8 pm $25 ($22)
The Cedar, 416 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis
Copresented with the Cedar
“A modernising, transformative force in Mauritanian music.” —The Guardian
One of the next generation’s most promising African artists, Noura Mint Seymali makes timeless songs from the Sahara sound utterly contemporary when she blends her entrancing voice with a cosmopolitan mix of funk bass, drums, and psych guitar played by Jeich Ould Chighaly (her husband and fellow griot). Spiced with flavors of flamenco, reggae, and blues, her beguiling sound resonates with the rhythms and tonalities of the desert, “creating a mesmerizing tension between ancient and futuristic” (Chicago Reader).
Rez Abbasi’s Invocation Quintet
with Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition
Thursday, February 25, 8 pm $28 ($24)
“Abbasi creates a sinuous, sometimes haunting, and always evocative blend of contemporary jazz and Asian influences.” —Time Out New York
Guitarist Abbasi is an emblematic figure in the globalization of jazz through his seamless welding of vanguard jazz and South Indian Carnatic sounds. While his virtuosity and inventiveness have been clear in past Walker appearances, this new project (with saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa) marks Minnesota’s first opportunity to witness Abbasi’s strength as a composer and bandleader. The concert opens with Mahanthappa’s groundbreaking Indo-Pak Coalition—a synthesis of bebop chromatics, roiling ragas, and dexterous velocity that creates a “meticulously ordered” sound that “swings like mad” (The New Yorker).
Walker Commission/World Premiere
Co-created by composer Paola Prestini, writer/performer Rinde Eckert, and director/designer Julian Crouch
Featuring the Brooklyn Youth Chorus
conducted by Dianne Berkun-Menaker
Saturday – Sunday, March 5-6
Saturday, 8 pm; Sunday, 2 pm $28 ($24)
“Aging Magician is brilliant.” —Robert Wilson
Two artists with long-standing Walker relationships—Julian Crouch of Improbable Theatre and composer/vocalist Rinde Eckert—return with the premiere of a poignant new music-theater work which paints an allegory on time, youth, and the particular magic of ordinary life. It is the story of an elderly watchmaker who moves us from the surgical repair of a timepiece to the magic show of time itself, a journey to find meaning and create a legacy at the end of a life. At the center of this sonic and visual composite is an enthralling score by rising classical composer Paola Prestini (“an artistic visionary” – Philip Glass) performed by vocalist Eckert, a string quartet, and the 40+member Brooklyn Youth Chorus. The work also features inimitable stage design by Crouch, an ingenious playable set/instrument by Bang on a Can’s Mark Stewart, stunning video and lighting by Josh Higgason, and additional scenic design by Amy Rubin. Co-produced by Beth Morrison Projects (BMP) and VisionIntoArt.
The Ghost of Montpellier Meets the Samurai
Friday–Sunday, March 11–13, 8 pm; Sunday, 7 pm
Friday $24 ($20); Saturday and Sunday $28 ($24)
“His dances exist on the perilous edge between authenticity and posing, driven by carefully timed tension and a heightened sensitivity.” —Time Out New York
In his newest creation, freethinking choreographer Trajal Harrell explores the human passion for art through an imaginary meeting between Butoh dance founder Tatsumi Hijikata, leader of French Nouvelle Danse Dominique Bagouet, and La Mama ETC founder/namesake Ellen Stewart. The inventive and irreverent Harrell—who last appeared in Out There 2013 with (M)imosa/Twenty Looks or Paris Is Burning—is a dance-maker whose cerebral side matches up elegantly with his bedrock love of a wide range of pop culture and movement, from voguing to pedestrian gestures, ballet to modern, jazz to minimalism.
Commissioned by the Walker Art Center with support provided by the William and Nadine McGuire Commissioning Fund and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additional support provided by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project and the Engaging Dance Audiences program, administered by Dance/USA and made possible with generous funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
The Language of the Future
Saturday, March 19, 8 pm $39 ($36 Walker/MPR members, Liquid Music subscribers)
Fitzgerald Theater, 10 E. Exchange Street, St. Paul
Single tickets: 651.290.1200 or etix.com
Copresented with the SPCO’s Liquid Music Series and MPR Live Events
“Laurie Anderson is a singer-songwriter of crushing poignancy—a minimalist painter of melancholy moods who addresses universal themes in the vernacular of the commonplace.” —Rolling Stone
Laurie Anderson delicately explores the inextricable link between the past, present, and future through custom-curated songs and stories for this tailor-made evening. Lacing together a sonic landscape of electronics, voice, and violin along with her signature surrealism, Anderson offers an irreverent snapshot of the American now and “continues to imbue her work with a singular perspective that is both haunting and timeless” (New York Times). Onstage at the historic Fitzgerald Theater, she coalesces the ephemeral and the nostalgic in a truly extraordinary evening.
Nufonia Must Fall
Friday–Saturday, April 1 and 2, 8 pm $25 ($22)
Copresented with the SPCO’s Liquid MusicSseries
“Whether the audience opted to get lost in the music, marvel at the live puppetry or simply follow the charming, heartfelt silent film unfolding onscreen, the stage inspired awe.” —Fast Forward Weekly (Calgary)
Imagined as a graphic novel animated in real time with a live soundtrack, Montreal-based scratch DJ/music producer Kid Koala has created a magical, multidisciplinary adaptation of his book Nufonia Must Fall. Directed by recent Oscar nominee K. K. Barrett (Spike Jonze’s Her, Where the Wild Things Are), this clever live adaptation unfolds via GoPro video with a dozen miniature stages and a cast of puppets in a tender robot-meets-office-girl love story. Kid Koala and Toronto’s dynamic Afiara Quartet provide live scoring on piano, strings, turntables, and electronics.
Co-commissioned by Luminato Festival, Adelaide Festival, The Banff Centre, Internationales Sommerfestival Hamburg, Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival Groningen, and Roundhouse UK.
Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble _
The Soul’s Messenger
Celebrating 50 Years of New Music
Friday, April 15, 8 pm $44 ($40), $36 ($33), $28 ($26), $20
The O’Shaughnessy, 2004 Randolph Avenue, St Paul, MN
Copresented with The O’Shaughnessy as part of its Women of Substance series
“[Monk] may loom even larger as the new century unfolds, and later generations will envy those who got to see her live.” —New Yorker
Theater director/choreographer/filmmaker/and interdisciplinary artist Meredith Monk is also one of most revered figures in contemporary American music and performance. Her groundbreaking exploration of the voice as an instrument expands the boundaries of musical composition, creating landscapes of sound that unearth feelings, energies, and memories for which we have no words. Monk and her acclaimed Vocal Quartet will showcase her range as a composer and her engagement with performance as a vehicle for spiritual transformation. Celebrating her 50th season as a creator and performer, the Walker continues its long history with Monk by welcoming her back to the Twin Cities after a seven-year hiatus.
Meredith Monk in Conversation with Philip Bither
Thursday, April 14, 7 pm free
William and Nadine McGuire Theater
Meredith Monk joins Senior Performing Arts Curator Philip Bither for a convivial and insightful conversation about her life and art. Monk’s seminal film 16 Millimeter Earrings will also be on view in the Walker galleries.
Thursday–Saturday, April 21–23, 8 pm
Thursday $18 ($14); Friday & Saturday $22 ($18)
“No changing rooms, no objects, no text, no videos. Now I only need a body…” —Luis Garay
In a jet black theater, virtuosic dancer Florencia Vecino slowly emerges from the darkness. Accompanied onstage by dj Mauro Ap performing electronic music, she begins a breathtaking kinesthetic transformation in this physically and intellectually stirring solo work. Buenos Aires–based Luis Garay, one of the most distinctive performance-makers of his generation, sees the body as linguistic material that invites investigation. Aside from its sheer rigor and intense physical demands, Maneries examines perceptions of time and form and exists somewhere between tribal ritual and performance. Note: Performance contains nudity.
Support provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Engaging Dance Audiences program, administered by Dance/USA and made possible with generous funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
Steve Lehman Octet
Saturday, May 7, 8 pm
“A breathtaking accomplishment, a blast of urban futurism at once hypnotic, kinetic and kaleidoscopic. And funky.” —New York Times
Described as “one of the transforming figures of early 21st century jazz” by The Guardian (UK), Steve Lehman is a composer and saxophonist who works across a broad spectrum of experimental musical idioms. His revered octet has received an abundance of critical acclaim for its synthesis of spectral harmony and improvisation, and his most recent recording, Mise en Abîme, was selected as top Jazz CD of 2014 by NPR Music, the Los Angeles Times, eMusic, and Musica Jazz Italia and one of the year’s top ten recordings by dozens of other publications including Downbeat which gave it a rare five-star review. Lehman has collaborated with many of leading jazz pioneers of our time (Anthony Braxton, Vijay Iyer, Jason Moran, Meshell Ndegeocello among others) and his Octet includes many leading jazz players of the next generation, including Jonathan Finlayson (Trumpet), Mark Shim (Tenor Saxophone), Chris Dingman (Vibraphone) and Tyshawn Sorey (drums).
Wind Grove Mind Alone: Devendra Banhart & Friends
Friday and Saturday, May 13 and 14, 8 pm $28 ($24)
Copresented with the SPCO’s Liquid Music Series
“At his core, Banhart is an urban aesthete, an art-school kid and street skater influenced by the Incredible String Band, Tropicália, and the Fugs.” —Rolling Stone
Join us for a two-evening exploration of the musical worlds of singer/songwriter/painter Devendra Banhart. An acknowledged leader of the acid-folk/indie-rock movement, he is revered for his idiosyncratic career of defying expectations and inspiring musical trends. This specially conceived convergence, curated by the artist, begins with Banhart performing expansive music drawn from his from seven critically acclaimed records—look for an intimate solo set on Friday, followed by atmospheric alt-pop duo Hecuba and Brazilian singer-songwriter Rodrigo Amarante (Los Hermanos, Orquestra Imperial ) and other special guests to be announced. On Saturday the concert will open with Devendra fronting his entire 5-member band followed by sets by Helado Negro (multi-lingual music-performance maker Roberto Carlos Lange) vanguard L.A.-based composer–sound artist William Basinski, and Swans leader Michael Gira, among other stellar musicians and artists still to be announced.
*Title borrowed from by Dom Sylvester Houédard’s 1974 poem “Wind Grove Mind Alone”
Walker Art Center Performing Arts Program History
A catalyst for the creative expression of artists and the active engagement of audiences, the Walker Art Center examines the questions that shape and inspire us as individuals, cultures, and communities. Established in 1927 as the Walker Art Gallery, in 1940 it adopted a new name and focused on modern and contemporary art exhibitions as well as screenings, performances and public programs. The Performing Arts program grew dramatically during the 1960s, presenting over 100 events a year and transitioning into a formal Walker programmatic department in 1970. Following a 1971 expansion and its 1988 opening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, in 2005 the Walker opened a $100 million expansion which housed dedicated venues for all its disciplines including the 385-seat McGuire Theater. Today the Walker is one of the top-five most visited modern and contemporary art centers in the U.S. Multidisciplinary in focus, it is equally committed to advancing artistic innovation and interdisciplinary scholarship as it is with increasing access to lifelong learning in the arts. Approximately 1,600 artistic presentations engage 600,000 people per year through up to eight exhibitions; 170 film screenings; 85 performance events; the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden; and hundreds of residency, education, and community program events. Its 16-acre campus includes the highly acclaimed Herzog & de Meuron designed 385-seat McGuire Theater – home to one of the nation’s largest contemporary performance programs. The Walker is respected nationally and internationally as a groundbreaking leader in contemporary performing art presentations, residencies, and commissions. Led by Senior Curator Philip Bither since 1997, the Walker’s Performing Arts program under his tenure has been defined by its commitment to the increasingly blurred lines between artistic disciplines, including contemporary dance, new music-theatre, performance art, experimental theatre, avant-jazz, contemporary classical music, new global sounds and alternative rock and pop. In addition to animating its outstanding McGuire Theater, the Walker has also greatly expanded its placement of dance into gallery settings, in its sculpture garden, and beyond, to further encourage a conversation between forms. It has also continued it long-standing tradition of mounting work together with presenters, venues, community-based collaborators, and unique sites across the Twin Cities. Through its endeavors, the Walker has earned an international reputation as “one of America’s foremost experimental art spaces” (UK’s The Guardian).
Commissioning History Highlights
The Walker actively commissions work from emerging and established artists and provides artists intensive residencies to develop their work and connect their art and ideas with its audiences and neighboring communities. During the past decade alone, the Walker has commissioned more than 100 works involving hundreds of performing artists whose Walker commissioned works have travelled to 270 venues in the U.S. and 30 countries. The Walker helped to establish now common national practices like commissioning work from leading artists (Merce Cunningham, Trisha Brown, Twyla Tharp and many more) and our commitment continues to this day with 5-8 new commissions and production residencies per year. The Walker has hosted multiple residencies from hundreds of artists over the years, including longstanding relationships with artists such as Cunningham, Brown, Philip Glass, and Meredith Monk, and more recently, vanguard artists such as Elevator Repair Service, Erik Friedlander, Cynthia Hopkins, So Percussion, and Ralph Lemon (who opened the 14/15 season with a new interdisciplinary work, Scaffold Room). 15/16 commission highlights include premieres like Sarah Michelson’s tournamento; Julian Crouch, Rinde Eckert, Paola Prestini’s Aging Magician; and Trajal Harrell’s The Ghost of Montpellier Meets the Samurai.
Philip Bither, McGuire Senior Curator, Performing Arts
Philip Bither has served as Walker Art Center’s Senior Curator of Performing Arts since April 1997, spearheading one of the country’s leading contemporary performing arts programs. During his years at the Walker, he oversaw the building of the McGuire Theater, an acclaimed new theatrical space and production laboratory within the Walker expansion (opened in April 2005), the raising of the Walker’s first dedicated performing arts endowment, the commissioning of more than 120 new works in dance, music and performance, and the annual residency and presentation support of dozens of contemporary performing arts creators, established and emerging. Prior to this, he served for eight years as the Artistic Director for the Flynn Center and its Discover Jazz Festival in Burlington, VT; and before that he served seven years as Associate Director and Music Curator for BAM’s Next Wave Festival. He received the Association of Performing Arts Presenters’ Fan Taylor Distinguished Service Award in 2009. In 2011, he helped found the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance graduate program at Wesleyan University and continues to serve on its faculty. He serves as Co-Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the Jerome Foundation and the Camargo Foundation, and sits on numerous other national foundation and governmental arts panels. He actively travels globally to research new performance and to speak about trends in the contemporary performing arts.
Key artists who Bither has commissioned during his tenure at the Walker have included Ralph Lemon, Elevator Repair Service, Bill T. Jones, Eiko & Koma, Young Jean Lee, Ornette Coleman, Cynthia Hopkins, Dan Graham, Richard Maxwell, Sufjan Stevens, Sarah Michelson, Lee Breuer/Mabou Mines, Jason Moran, Robert LePage, Meredith Monk, Shirin Neshat, Bang On A Can All Stars, Tim Etchells/Forced Entertainment and more than a 100 others.
Bither has been committed to the development of the Twin Cities-based dance and performance communities through the expansion of Choreographers’ Evening, the launching and continued development of the Momentum Dance Festival (now 15 years old) and a wide range of full evening commissions from artists including Michael Sommers, Chris Larson, HIJACK, Morgan Thorson, Emily Johnson, Ragamala Dance, Joe Chvala, Chris Schlichting, and dozens of others.
Additionally, Bither has helped pave the way for significant Walker expansion of performing art-related exhibitions Art Performs Life, Trisha Brown: So that the Audience Does Not Know Whether I Have Stopped Dancing, Ralph Lemon’s Scaffold Room, and multiple performance acquisitions, including the entire Merce Cunningham Dance Collection.
Walker Art Center 2015-2016 Season Copresenting Partners
This Walker Performing Arts season includes long-standing and vital partnerships with four presenting organizations – we’re proud to be working with the Cedar, SPCO’s Liquid Music series, The O’Shaughnessy, and the Givens Foundation for African American Literature.
The Cedar Cultural Center
The Cedar Cultural Center is a highly eclectic music venue located in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis, MN. Over its 25 year history, The Cedar has become one of the premiere venues for world music in the U.S. by fulfilling its (501c3 non-profit) mission of promoting inter-cultural appreciation and understanding though the presentation of global music and dance. Learn more at http://www.thecedar.org/
Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series
Liquid Music is a concert series presented by The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra that seeks to expand the world of classical music through innovative new projects and collaborations, boundary-defying artists, and unique presentation formats. Liquid Music performances invite adventurous audiences of all ages to discover the new and the fascinating in the colorful landscape of classical music today. Visit liquidmusicseries.org to learn more.
Since opening in 1970, The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University has presented a dazzling array of both local and national performing arts companies, including the Minnesota Orchestra, James Sewell Ballet, TU Dance, The Indigo Girls, and countless other public events, student and community performances, and multicultural programs. Known for its dedication to artistic development and collaboration, the venue has premiered over 400 new works by local and national artists. The O’Shaughnessy is the home of the Women of Substance series, which showcases the artistry and innovative work of women, both prominent and emerging in their fields, whose voices need to be heard. www.oshag.stkate.edu
Givens Foundation for African American Literature
For more than 42 years, the Givens Foundation for African American Literature has been the only organization in the Twin Cities exclusively dedicated to advancing and celebrating black literature and writers. Our literary arts residencies, African American Author Series, and programs for writers illuminate the cultural resources and creative imagination found within African American literature to enrich cultural understanding for diverse audiences of all ages. http://www.givens.org/