Columbia University's Miller Theatre Kicks Off MORNINGSIDE LIGHTS 2013 Tonight
The Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre at Columbia University have announced the 2nd annual MORNINGSIDE LIGHTS, which kicks off tonight, September 14 with a week of daily free participatory arts workshops (through Friday, September 20), and culminates in a procession on Saturday, September 21. This event is produced in partnership with Friends of Morningside Park and their annual Common Ground festival. Complete details and sign-up forms are available at www.morningside-lights.com.
Last year's inaugural Morningside Lights explored the theme "The Imagined City," with participants carrying illuminated skyscrapers soaring high above the crowds through Morningside Park. On the evening of September 21, 2013, a sea-floor fantasy of luminescent life forms-"The Luminous Deep"-will emerge from the neighborhood workshops of the second annual Morningside Lights, lighting the way once again from Morningside Park to the Columbia University campus. "Eerily beautiful" is how Time Out New York described last year's pageant.
The Lantern-Building Workshops
From tonight, September 14 through Friday, September 20, daily lantern-building workshops will take place at Miller Theatre, Broadway and 116th Street.
Workshops are free and open to participants of all backgrounds and abilities. Activities are geared toward teens and adults, but kids ages 8 and up are welcome with adult supervision. Participants are invited to put their creative skills to use while building illuminated lanterns and fantastical sea-inspired sculptures.
On Saturday, September 14 and Sunday, September 15, workshops will run fromnoon to 6 p.m. During the week, workshops will run from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. Those interested in taking part can visit www.morningside-lights.com for more information and to sign up for the build, the procession, or both.
The Creative Team
Visual artists Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles of Processional Arts Workshop (PAW)-whose stunning creations lead the New York City's annual Halloween Parade-will teach building techniques and help community members realize their ideas through the creation of large-scale illuminated objects.
Musicians of all backgrounds are also invited to participate in a world premiere by composer Nathan Davis, who also wrote the score for last year's procession. Those interested will have opportunities to both build and perform on handmade musical instruments inspired by the sea.
From Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles, Artistic Directors of Processional Arts Workshop: "We see processional art as a means to reflect on local and current realities. After Hurricane Sandy flooded New York, we were struck, as we listened to New Yorkers' harrowing stories, by how increasingly precarious and illusory the city's separation from nature really is. Whereas last year's procession was a celebration of the heights of utopian urbanism and manmade structures, we felt this year should address the deep and inevitable connection of the city to nature. The great cliff-side of Morningside Park is one of the few places in the city where you can still sense the vestiges of New York's prehistoric geography, so for the The Luminous Deep, we used the idea of the depths as a post-diluvian allegory. Imagining the deepest and oldest recesses of the natural world, our sea-floor fantasy of bio-luminescent creatures seeks to ask what lies beneath the fragile presence of human artifice, while recalling, in the wake of Sandy's waters, how those surrounded by darkness find ways to make their own light. "
Processional Arts Workshop
Processional Arts Workshop (PAW), under the direction of Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles, creates site-specific parades, processions, and immersive theatre happenings worldwide. Inspired by diverse, global traditions of Carnivalesque street theater, large-scale puppetry, and ritual pageant, PAW uses processional art as means to build and sustain community spirit and awareness, designing original works for established public events and festivals, as well as seeding site-specific pageant traditions in communities where no such events may have existed before. Drawing on regional cultures, history, folklore, ethnicity, and current sociopolitical concerns, PAW engages local residents in every stage of production, empowering them to identify and express the narratives that uniquely define "local" in their own community, against the modern tide of global homogenization.
The resulting works bring together hundreds of volunteers - integrating pageant puppetry, mobile architecture, illumination and projection, masked costume, and sound. Though best known for their giant puppet performances that lead NY's Village Halloween Parade each year, PAW has also created work for Socrates Sculpture Park, the High Line (for the PEN World Voices Festival), Trinidad Carnival, the EON Performance Festival in Istanbul, the Henson International Festival of Puppet Theatre, and the opening ceremonies of the Walkway Over the Hudson. In addition PAW has worked with communities internationally to create processions, flashmobs, and mobile performances in locales ranging from the streets of Kiev to the South Bronx; from Italian Alps to rural Texas. Their work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a Fulbright Scholarship to Trinidad, a Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Artists and Communities Grant, a CEC Artslink Grant to Ukraine, a Dutchess County Arts Council Project Grant, and a Roman Witt Visiting Artist Fellowship at University of Michigan. Alex and Sophia have also lectured on PAW's work and Carnivalesque art in general, at the New School, Bard College, Maine College of Art, University of the West Indies, and Kiev's Les Kurbas Centre. A complete catalogue of PAW's projects can be found at www.processionalarts.org.
Inspired by natural processes, acoustic phenomena, and the abstraction of simple stories, Nathan Davis "writes music that deals deftly and poetically with timbre and sonority" (Steve Smith, The New York Times). Lincoln Center inaugurated its new Tully Scope Festival in 2011 with the premiere of Nathan's half-hour, site-specific work Bells, performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). He has also received commissions from the Calder String Quartet, Yarn/Wire, TimeTable Percussion, and the Ojai Festival (for Eighth Blackbird and an installation by sound-sculptor Trimpin), with performances at NYC's Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, Symphony Space, Roulette, Le Poisson Rouge, across the U.S., and internationally at festivals in Holland, Germany, Finland, Poland, China, Russia, Canada, and Cuba. He has received awards from Meet The Composer, Copland Fund, Jerome Foundation, American Music Center, MATA, ASCAP, and ISCM. Recordings of his music include a monograph of his chamber works performed by ICE entitled The Bright and Hollow Sky (one of Time Out NY's top 10 classical albums of 2011), his electroacoustic percussion disc Memory Spaces, and flutist Claire Chase's debut Aliento. Also an active percussionist, Nathan is a core member of ICE and has recorded for Nonesuch, Tzadik, Mode, Kairos, New Albion, Bridge, BMOP, Karnatic Lab, and Cold Blue records.
The Arts Initiative
The Arts Initiative at Columbia University is a pioneering venture to make arts and culture a meaningful part of every Columbian's experience. Founded in 2004, the Initiative's diverse programs encourage students, faculty, and staff to experience the creative life of the campus, engage the cultural riches of New York City and the wider world, and create arts and performance. Under the auspices of the Arts Initiative, Columbia students, faculty, and staff attend cultural events across New York City, benefit from ticket discounts and subsidies, and connect to one another through the Initiative's vibrant arts programming. At its core, the Arts Initiative creates and facilitates opportunities for cross-disciplinary exchange and is integral to the fabric of campus life.
Miller Theatre at Columbia University is the leading presenter of new music in New York City and one of the most vital forces nationwide for innovative programming. In partnership with Columbia University School of the Arts, Miller is dedicated to producing and presenting unique events, with a focus on contemporary and early music, jazz, opera, dance, and multimedia performances. Over the past 25 years, Miller Theatre has helped launch the careers of myriad composers and ensembles, serving as an incubator for emerging artists and a champion of those not yet well known in the United States. A three-time recipient of the ASCAP/Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming, Miller has built a reputation for attracting new and diverse audiences to programs highlighting underrepresented corners of the classical music repertoire.
In June 2011, Miller Theatre produced its first free outdoor performance in Morningside Park, presenting John Luther Adams' Inuksuit performed by 99 percussionists scattered throughout the park. September 2012 marked the first Morningside Lights procession, which Time Out New York described as "eerily beautiful." Other community programs include an ongoing series of free early-evening Pop-Up Concerts, which the New York Times called "a wonderfully informal way to experience bracing contemporary music."