Cellist Maya Beiser to Perform ELSEWHERE at BAM Festival, 10/17 - 20
Cellist Maya Beiser, described by the Boston Globe as having "virtuoso chops, rock-star charisma, and an appetite for pushing her instrument to The Edge of avant-garde adventurousness," will see the New York premiere of her new production, ELSEWHERE, a "CelloOpera," in four performances from October 17 through 20 at 7:30pm, during the 2012 BAM Next Wave Festival in the inaugural season of the Fishman Space, part of BAM's new Richard B. Fischer Building which opens in September 2012 at 321 Ashland Place in Brooklyn. ELSEWHERE is produced by Beth Morrison Projects.
ELSEWHERE is an imaginative and psychological retelling of the biblical story of Lot's wife, and features performances by Maya Beiser and vocalist Helga Davis. The production grew out of a friendship and collaboration between Maya and theater director RoBert Woodruff. In addition to a triptych of compositions by Eve Beglarian, Michael Gordon, and Missy Mazzoli, ELSEWHERE incorporates sung and spoken text by Henri Michaux and Erin Cressida Wilson with amplified, distorted, and acoustic cello, film by Peter Nigrini, and choreography by Brook Notary. ELSEWHERE is commissioned by Carolina Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where it will have its world premiere on October 11, 2012.
ELSEWHERE is an urgent dialogue between two female diviners, communicating from opposite poles in time, ancient and modern, catastrophic and calm, both at the brink of apocalypse. Part one unfolds as a letter from a young woman witnessing her world as it comes to an end, with text by Michaux. She takes refuge with other women, represented by four dancers, in a secluded hermitage into which pours video that shows the dissolution of the natural world. The voice of the cello (Far Off Country, composed by Beglarian) attempts to communicate the plight of these cloistered women to another woman, in a distant land, whose face and voice are seen only electronically. Part two begins with music (Industry, composed by Gordon) that strips away everything to a solo, acoustic cello – the simplicity of which is slowly corrupted and builds towards violence. As Industry ends, the biblical character of Lot's wife – a figure from the Book of Genesis known for being turned into a pillar of salt as punishment for looking back upon the ruin of Sodom – watches her world collapse. She sings of the fall of everything that she knows (Lot's Wife, composed by Mazzoli), a woman who must bear witness to destruction and remain forever suspended between life and death.
This production, the most ambitious narrative theatre piece she has created, marks a culmination for Maya Beiser, who has previously conceived, performed and produced her own critically acclaimed multimedia concerts, including World To Come, which premiered as part of the inaugural season of Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall; Almost Human, a collaboration with visual artist Shirin Neshat; and Provenance, which premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2008 and forms the basis of her 2010 bestselling recording.
NEW ALBUM: TIME LOOPS
In addition to the premiere performances of ELSEWHERE, this fall brings the release of Maya's newest album, Time Loops, which will be released on October 30, 2012 on Cantaloupe Music. Time Loops features music by Michael Harrison and includes Just Ancient Loops for Maya Beiser, Hijaz for Maya Beiser and the Young People's Chorus of New York City with Harrison on piano, plus music by Arvo Pärt and J.S. Bach.
The centerpiece of the album, Just Ancient Loops, is a 25-minute piece that unveils every aspect of the cello – from its most glorious and mysterious harmonics to earthy, rhythmic pizzicatos. Michael Harrison explains, "Just Ancient Loops uses Just tunings, Ancient modes and harmonies, and Loops of melodic and rhythmic modules. It is a musical odyssey for an orchestra of cellos, with each cello part recorded separately in the studio by Maya. In concert Maya plays the lead part live accompanied by a recording of all of the other pre-recorded parts and a new film created specifically for the project by multi-media artist Bill Morrison."
Of the new piece, Maya says, "In this work the cello becomes this "über" instrument – laying down the drones, building rhythmical grooves on top of each other, singing melismatic melodies, and reaching up to the stratosphere as the music evolves and builds into a massive, exhilarating climax. There are those rare moments in an artist's life when you realize that you are part of something that is greater than yourself, your collaborators, your listeners – when everything falls into place and music just lives and breathes on its own: raw, naked, real. It takes over. It becomes a force of nature. Such was the moment when I listened to the first mix of Just Ancient Loops."
About Maya Beiser
Maya Beiser has captivated audiences worldwide with her virtuosity, eclectic repertoire, and relentless quest to redefine her instrument's boundaries. AllMusic.com reports, "Maya Beiser has etched a bold career path that marries classical to rock, starched collars to casual dress, and tradition to unorthodoxy." Over the past decade, Maya has created new repertoire for the cello, commissioning and performing many works written for her by today's leading composers. She has collaborated with composers Tan Dun, Brian Eno, Philip Glass, Osvaldo Golijov, Steve Reich, David Lang, Louis Andriessen, and Mark O'Connor, among many others. A featured performer on the world's most prestigious stages, Maya appeared as soloist at the Sydney Opera House, New York's Lincoln Center, London's Barbican and the World Expo in Nagoya, Japan and was a featured speaker and performer at the 2011 TED conference; her TEDTalk has since garnered over half a million views online.
Highlights of Maya Beiser's recent US tours include performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Royce Hall in Los Angeles, Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Mondavi Performing Arts Center, Ravinia Festival in Chicago, Celebrity Series in Boston and International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven. Other recent performances include major venues and festivals in Barcelona, Paris, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Athens. She has appeared with many of the world's top orchestras performing new works for the cello including the St. Paul Camber Orchestra, Montreal Symphony, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony, China Philharmonic, and many others.
Maya's latest recording, Provenance, has been a top selling classical and world music CD since its release in 2010. Her performance of Steve Reich's Cello Counterpoint, a piece written for her, is featured on the Nonesuch disc You Are, which was chosen by The New York Times as one of the top albums of the year. She is also the soloist on the Sony Classical CD release of Tan Dun's Water Passion, and has performed his Academy Award-winning score Crouching Tiger Concerto with orchestras around the globe. She has released four solo CDs on Koch (now E1) including Oblivion, Kinship, World To Come, and Almost Human.
Maya has been a featured soloist on several film soundtracks. Collaborating with renowned film composer James Newton Howard, she is the featured soloist on M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening, Denzel Washington's The Great Debaters, Edward Zwick's Blood Diamond, and Rupert Sanders' Snow White and the Huntsman (June 2012).
Raised on a kibbutz in Israel by her French mother and Argentinean father, Maya Beiser is a graduate of Yale University. Her major teachers were Aldo Parisot, Uzi Weizel, Alexander Schneider, and Isaac Stern. Maya was the founding cellist of the new music ensemble, the Bang on a Can All-Stars. Maya can be found on Twitter, tweeting as @cellogoddess, a moniker bestowed upon her by The New Yorker.