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Tomorrow night’s Spark of Being: a jazz concert with a film

Tomorrow night the Walker-commissioned Spark of Being will be performed in the McGuire Theater by Dave Douglas and his band Keystone. Fans of Erik Friedlander’s Block Ice & Propane performance last year will probably find much to love with Spark of Being, because both pieces feature film by Bill Morrison. However, tomorrow night’s evening length film […]

Tomorrow night the Walker-commissioned Spark of Being will be performed in the McGuire Theater by Dave Douglas and his band Keystone. Fans of Erik Friedlander’s Block Ice & Propane performance last year will probably find much to love with Spark of Being, because both pieces feature film by Bill Morrison. However, tomorrow night’s evening length film was developed in conjunction with Dave Douglas’ ongoing process of music composition; in contrast to film footage being used as accompaniment to music, tomorrow night’s piece is more of a cross-pollination, with the music heard and the film seen being inseparably involved in each other’s creation. As Douglas said in a San Jose Mercury News article (unfortunately no longer available online) “The whole thing from its genesis was a parallel construction.”

The article also has a great story on how Morrison and Douglas met:

[Morrison] and Douglas first met in an earlier phase of Morrison’s life, when he was a dishwasher at New York’s Village Vanguard jazz club in the early 1990s. “I wouldn’t have done a dishwashing job anywhere else,” Morrison says. “The dishwasher had a heightened status at the Vanguard. The dressing room is in the kitchen, and the dishwasher is the only non-musician, non-owner who could be in the dressing room. It was a wonderful job. I ended up going in on my off nights as well. It afforded me a chance to meet these other great artists.

Dave Douglas’ composition and Bill Morrison’s found-footage film both used the Frankenstein story as loose inspiration.

Morrison: "...early expeditions to the South Pole featured footage of icebound ships and that's how Shelley's novel begins." (still from Spark of Being)

Star Tribune has a great feature on Spark of Being also, with this to say about the performance tomorrow night:

Douglas…found that performing the film straight through can be “so intense that it might be nice to have a break in the middle.” In Toronto, he inserted “a short segment where we just play the score without the film and then the lights go back down and the audience sees the rest of the film,” an experiment he will repeat on Thursday. This time, Morrison will be on hand to provide his feedback on how it works.

Here’s the trailer for Spark of Being’s premiere at Stanford earlier this year:

Tickets are still available and the show begins at 8 pm. Also, for the first 40 people who come to the McGuire Theater tomorrow night, we have music download cards featuring a cut from every musician/music group in the now underway 2010-11 Performing Arts season.  For those of you who have already received a download card, make sure to redeem your code soon. The links will expire mid-October.

Free Eiko & Koma performances Saturday, October 2

Eiko & Koma will be kicking off their two-month engagement with the Walker tomorrow! Come see a free performance of Raven at either 11:00 am or 1:00 pm, in the McGuire Theater. Eiko Otake will be having a Q+A with the audience after both shows, and we’ll be having a SpeakEasy after both shows also, with […]

Eiko & Koma will be kicking off their two-month engagement with the Walker tomorrow!

Come see a free performance of Raven at either 11:00 am or 1:00 pm, in the McGuire Theater. Eiko Otake will be having a Q+A with the audience after both shows, and we’ll be having a SpeakEasy after both shows also, with Walker tour guide Mary Dew facilitating and local choreographers Chris Schlichting (at 11 am) and Carl Flink (1 pm) joining in on the conversation as well.

Also upcoming: 

Thursday, October 21, Eiko Otake will be leading a Delicious Movement workshop designed for people with no prior dance experience/expertise. $6

 Thursday, October 28, as part of Target Free Thursday Night, Eiko & Koma will be sitting down with Performing Arts Curator Philip Bither for a Talking Dance interview.

And beginning November 1 (through November 30) Naked begins in Gallery 2.  Naked is a dance/visual art installation in which Eiko & Koma inhabit the Walker’s Event Horizon exhibition. Tuesdays-Sundays Eiko & Koma will be performing 11 am-5 pm; Thursdays they will be performing 3-9 pm. Naked is free with gallery admission.

photo by Danny Ardiono

Jason Moran: Congrats on the MacArthur Genius Award

Renaissance man; band leader of multiple great groups; astute follower of fashion, design, architecture and active collector of visual art; tour de force solo pianist; forward-thinking composer; self-directed jazz historian and good friend of the Walker, Jason Moran was just awarded the coveted MacArthur “Genius” Award.  Moran has performed at the Walker five times, in […]

Renaissance man; band leader of multiple great groups; astute follower of fashion, design, architecture and active collector of visual art; tour de force solo pianist; forward-thinking composer; self-directed jazz historian and good friend of the Walker, Jason Moran was just awarded the coveted MacArthur “Genius” Award

Jason Moran and Philip Bither in the Walker offices the week Moran was awarded the MacArthur

Moran has performed at the Walker five times, in a wide variety of contexts, since 2001.   One was a stunning music-video theatrical concert called Milestone (involving collaborative compositions with conceptual artist Adrian Piper), a moving farewell solo for ex-Walker director Kathy Halbreich, a brilliant large group post-modern tribute to Thelonious Monk, and unique collaborations with Greg Osby and Sam Rivers.  He was not only one of the few performing artists to receive a MacArthur Award this year, but he was also one of the youngest.   Congrats to Jason for this much deserved honor!

Alilia Z Loves Efterklang

I’d like to introduce Alilia Z, internet sensation, self-help coach, and self-appointed renegade street team. Here’s a video she made at the State Fair about the Walker’s Efterklang show tomorrow: her insistence with passersby is a hilarious flirtation with the monomania of truth-and-lies fandom obsession. Tickets still available!  The show is tomorrow, September 11, 8 pm. Common Roots […]

I’d like to introduce Alilia Z, internet sensation, self-help coach, and self-appointed renegade street team. Here’s a video she made at the State Fair about the Walker’s Efterklang show tomorrow: her insistence with passersby is a hilarious flirtation with the monomania of truth-and-lies fandom obsession.

Tickets still available!  The show is tomorrow, September 11, 8 pm. Common Roots is providing vittles! And there will be (free) beer!

If you need some final convincing of the caliber of these musicians, check this sweet Radiolab (WNYC) episode for Buke & Gass, and the “Take Away Show” for Efterklang’s “Mirador” on the always fascinating Blogotheque.

 For all you attendees, here’s a helpful mini-dictionary of key terms:

 Efterklang is Danish for “remembrance” or “reverberation”

 Buke is a self-modified six-string former baritone ukulele

 Gass is a guitar-bass hybrid

SEE YOU THERE!

Efterklang your beer steins (free Summit)

The Saturday, September 11 show for Efterklang/Buke & Gass will be ushered in by a pre-party in the McGuire Theater Balcony Bar, from 7-8 pm that night, with the show beginning at 8 pm. Since Efterklang/Buke & Gass will be the first show of the 2010-11 Performing Arts season, we’re celebrating with a pre-party featuring not only a […]

The Saturday, September 11 show for Efterklang/Buke & Gass will be ushered in by a pre-party in the McGuire Theater Balcony Bar, from 7-8 pm that night, with the show beginning at 8 pm. Since Efterklang/Buke & Gass will be the first show of the 2010-11 Performing Arts season, we’re celebrating with a pre-party featuring not only a keg of complimentary Summit beer but also some local gratis gastronomic goodies, courtesy of Common Roots Cafe. I’m looking forward to hearing this song live. And openers Buke and Gass will astound; here’s a track wherethey sound to me like a heavily syncopated, garage rock version of the Cold War Kids, which is a good thing.

Also, the Walker’s videographer extraordinaire, Andy Underwood-Bultman, just put together the trailer for the upcoming Performing Arts season and did a pretty bad-a_ s job of it, if I may say so.

Tickets are available now for all these events. Performing Arts curator Philip Bither will be giving the run-down of the season on Thursday, September 9 at 7 pm,  free and open to all, and attendees will receive a free download card featuring a track from each of our musicians/groups this season. We’ll also be handing out the download cards at the Efterklang/Buke & Gass show. Philip Bither’s talk from last year is on the Walker Channel, as is the trailer from last year (and the trailer from the year before).

Juana Molina: Hear Everything and Feel Free

A friend recently shared this video medley with me: Juana Molina’s former comedy show, Juana y Sus Hermanas (!) The clips are funnier to me than, say, most SNL skits in recent memory, and I only speak un poco. Ms. Molina’s comic genius speaks a language of universal incoherence. Molina is better known in the U.S. for […]

A friend recently shared this video medley with me:

Juana Molina’s former comedy show, Juana y Sus Hermanas (!) The clips are funnier to me than, say, most SNL skits in recent memory, and I only speak un poco. Ms. Molina’s comic genius speaks a language of universal incoherence.

Molina is better known in the U.S. for her music than for television, which she left in 1996 to release her first album; it was a metamorphosis executed with astonishing aplomb, although the medium-swap was less radical to her than her (T.V.) fans. She grew up in a musical home, and her tango-player father has said in an interview (regarding the backlash of her switch from television to music) that “People are too conservative in what they think of as music, and I wanted her to hear everything and to feel free.”

Throughout her music career, Molina has elliptically re-envisioned the singer-songwriter paradigm, traversing to its farthest borders on her latest album, Un Día. But on her first album, Rara (currently unavailable), we find equally compelling albeit more traditional tweaks of the same theme. “En los días de humedad” (scroll up after clicking this link to download) has been on repeat for months now with me: the haunting, tremulous uncertainty at 0:38 and throughout, her voice at 1:03 and 2:06 capturing a delicate anguish with inertia. Her voice navigates unexpected intervals, the more oblique entanglements of song structure in general, and the vagaries of existence itself.

I saw Juana Molina at her last show in Minneapolis, at the Whole Music Club, and it was easily among the best shows I’ve ever seen, perhaps the best. It’s difficult  to explain why some live music is so much more essential than others, but for her Whole appearance, the groove—in all its moving, shifting, tapestry dimensions—was flawless, and belied the unique conceptual underpinnings of her harmonic understanding. She explains:

“When I started to write the songs for [the] record ‘Son’, a new element that may have been hidden for a long time appeared; the randomness of the combination of sounds in nature. Each bird has a particular singing; nevertheless this singing is always different. It is not a pattern; it’s a drawing, a sound and a mode, only a few elements that each bird combines in a new way each time.

In the same way, sometimes I chose to sing a melodic drawing I develop for the song. Verses are alike, but never the same (rios seco, no seas antipática) other times I chose to sing a repetitive melody. What changes here and moves randomly is, for example, a keyboard. It is like overlapping two different loops, with no synchronicity at all. One very rhythmic and the other one more loose. When you play both, at the same time, the loose loop will provoke a changing harmony, because their beats will never be in the same place. This causes a moving harmony.”

This video illustrates her moving harmony concept:

Juana Molina’s concert at the Walker this Saturday night  is a nice tie-in to fellow Argentinian and visual artist Guillermo Kuitca’s opening at the Walker this Friday night. The two even interviewed each other for the Star Tribune.

Tickets for Juana Molina are still available. Click here.

Eiko and Koma Coming Soon

As mentioned in this blog, Eiko & Koma’s retrospective launched last month, and will be making its way to the Walker starting in October. Mark McCloughan, prior Walker Art Center Performing Arts Intern, had this to share about Eiko & Koma: “As a Walker Art Center intern in the summer of 2009, I worked in […]

Eiko and Koma photos by Anna Lee Campbell

As mentioned in this blog, Eiko & Koma’s retrospective launched last month, and will be making its way to the Walker starting in October.

Mark McCloughan, prior Walker Art Center Performing Arts Intern, had this to share about Eiko & Koma:

“As a Walker Art Center intern in the summer of 2009, I worked in the performing arts department, supporting the wonderful staff as they planned events for the 2009-2010 season and beyond. One of the projects that was on the horizon for late 2010 was a residency by Eiko & Koma, two Japanese-American dancer-choreographers who have a long history with the Walker. Over the course of Eiko & Koma’s career, the Walker has been a great supporter, presenting and even commissioning new work from the duo.

Now, almost a year, later, I find myself working as an assistant to these great artists, who are gearing up to make the planned residency a reality. As part of Eiko & Koma’s Retrospective Project (which you can read more about here) the Walker has commissioned a new piece from the artists, which will take the form of a living installation titled ‘Naked’. Eiko and Koma have been hard at work over the last few months conceptualizing and designing the piece, and will spend the next few months asartists-in-residence at the Park Avenue Armory building the installation before it arrives in Minneapolis in November.

It’s been really exciting for me to get to know Eiko & Koma, both through exploring their history at the Walker and assisting them with their current work. ‘Naked’ is shaping up to be something really special, and I hope many of you can make it to the installation in November to see the most recent product of the decades-long collaboration between Eiko & Koma and the Walker.”

While plans for their month-long installation here in November, Naked, are already in place, Eiko and Koma are exploring ways to add additional components to the piece. They’ve been chosen by United States Artists to participate in a unique fundraising strategy that may be “the first Internet site that allows direct public donations between art patrons and pre-selected artists” according to the Eiko and Koma website.

Part of their residency plans at the Walker also include a retrospective catalog of their work.

A final note of interest is that Eiko and Koma have put together a video anthologizing their entire body of work, nice for those new to the oeuvre. Check the first clip to see White Dance, with Koma “throwing potatoes with abandon” as Gia Kourlas wrote in the New York Times.

Attention Twin Cities Steve Reich Fans

This Saturday at the Walker, Chicago-based musical group eighth blackbird is performing, among other things, Steve Reich’s newest composition Double Sextet. Reich wrote the piece for eighth blackbird and it won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Music. The recording will be released on Nonesuch, but it’s not out yet. For audiences in the Twin Cities, […]

This Saturday at the Walker, Chicago-based musical group eighth blackbird is performing, among other things, Steve Reich’s newest composition Double Sextet. Reich wrote the piece for eighth blackbird and it won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Music.

The recording will be released on Nonesuch, but it’s not out yet. For audiences in the Twin Cities, this is your one chance to hear live a landmark piece of music history.

IF you are unaware of Steve Reich’s sublime and perfect music, let me recommend Music for 18 Musicians, Tehilim, and Different Trains as places to start.

eight blackbird will be performing Double Sextet with local music group Zeitgeist, and the evening’s program -The Only Moving Thing - will also feature eighth blackbird performing work originally composed by Bang On a Can All-Stars founders David Lang, Michael Gordon, and Julia Wolfe. eighth blackbird’s shows include choreographic aspects, so expect the shimmering sheets of musical minimalism to be even less static than usual.

Presenting performing arts in hard times

Nearly all arts institutions faced budget strains in 2009 that are not likely to let up much in 2010. The current issue of NEA Arts, the quarterly published by the National Endowment for the Arts, addresses the economic pressures facing performing arts presenters in particular; in “Focusing on the Work: Arts Presenting in Hard Times,” […]

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Premiere of Radiohole's "Whatever, Heaven Allows" at the Walker (January, 2010)

Nearly all arts institutions faced budget strains in 2009 that are not likely to let up much in 2010. The current issue of NEA Arts, the quarterly published by the National Endowment for the Arts, addresses the economic pressures facing performing arts presenters in particular; in “Focusing on the Work: Arts Presenting in Hard Times,” writer Paulette Beete sought perspective from Philip Bither, the Walker’s McGuire senior curator of performing arts, as well as Michael Kaiser, President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Both offered a number of often overlapping insights; for Bither, persevering in hard times means three basic things:

  1. Take risks: “I would encourage my presenting colleagues in general that sometimes the smartest thing to do is to take the biggest risk. Surprisingly we have found that sometimes the scariest projects, the most ambitious and audacious undertakings, have delivered the greatest rewards” –not just in terms of acclaim, he noted, but in future support from funders.
  2. Collaborate both locally and nationally: “Very infrequently [is the Walker] the sole commissioner of a new work. I think collaboration and cooperation between arts entities that’s on a national scale and on a local level are really part of what we define as requirements that allow us to be fiscally responsible and still support new work.”
  3. Focus on the artists: “ … it’s a very vulnerable and lonely place, especially for emerging and mid-career artists, to not know who’s out there that might believe in them enough to not just put on their last hit but to actually support their next idea. I think in many instances the Walker saying to an artist, ‘We believe in you, and we want to help make this great idea you have come to life,’ is equally important, if not more so, than the cash we can put on the table or the range of resources we can provide.”

Radiohole’s production of Whatever, Heaven Allows, which played as part of the Out There series last month, was a case in point of point 3. The Walker’s commission – a partnership with New York’s PS122, Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum, and UCLA Live (see point 2) – allowed members of this company to work on a scale they haven’t before.

Other upcoming commissions for the current 2009-2010 season include new music from Bill Frisell, Rahim AlHaj, and Eyvind Kang, created during a residency in the McGuire Theater (February 6); Morgan Thorson and Low’s Heaven (March 4-6), also supported by a residency; and the John Jasperse Company’s Truth, Revised Histories, Wishful Thinking, and Flat Out Lies (May 20-22). Midwest debuts include Bruno Beltrao/Grupo de Rua with H3 (February 11-13), the Akram Khan Company with bahok (March 3), and Saburo Teshigawara/KARAS with Miroku.

24 hours to a Rock the Garden revelation

Tune into 89.3 The Current at 4pm to hear Walker performing arts curator Philip Bither and The Current’s Mary Lucia announce the lineup for Rock the Garden on June 20 – this festival has become one of summer’s coveted tickets. Speaking of tickets, they go on sale tomorrow too, but Walker and MPR members get […]

Photo by Cameron Wittig

Photo by Cameron Wittig

Tune into 89.3 The Current at 4pm to hear Walker performing arts curator Philip Bither and The Current’s Mary Lucia announce the lineup for Rock the Garden on June 20 – this festival has become one of summer’s coveted tickets. Speaking of tickets, they go on sale tomorrow too, but Walker and MPR members get first dibs. If you’re looking for an excuse to join, this is as good as it gets. Oh wait, it gets better: Your ticket is free if you contribute at $60 or more; tickets for you and a friend are free if you renew or joining at $150 or more. As you listen to Mary and Philip playing songs from the bands, check out images from Rock the Garden last year – and picture yourself this June, soaking up sun and great sounds in our grassy back yard.

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