Miller Theatre Announces 2014-15 Season at Columbia University

Miller Theatre Announces 2014-15 Season at Columbia University

Miller Theatre is pleased to now announce its 2014-15 season, the fifth under the exuberant leadership of director Melissa Smey.

Since the beginning of her tenure, Smey has continued Miller's tradition of adventurous programming, while quietly steering Miller toward new territory-welcoming a stylistically eclectic mix of composers and ensembles, expanding Miller's leadership in community engagement.

This season's programming highlights a wealth of premieres. Smey has expanded Miller Theatre's commitment to the development of new works, integrating a commissioning program into its existing concert series. This season's Composer Portraits features two commissions from composers Chaya Czernowin and Augusta Read Thomas, both set to return for second Portraits at Miller. The series also includes multiple regional premieres and two brand new works by Keeril Makan and Missy Mazzoli.

Smey has also, for the second time, commissioned a site-specific mural for the Miller lobby in collaboration with the Wallach Art Gallery. This year will feature the vibrant, technicolor work of Maya Hayuk, an Oz-like contrast after last year's black and white score-inspired mural by Vargas-Suarez Universal. See a complete list of commissions under Melissa Smey.

The revamped Bach, Revisited series returns for a second year amid critical acclaim, in which Bach's works are paired by prominent living composers alongside their own. This season features Michael Gordon, Helmut Lachenmann, and Sofia Gubaidulina. Ensemble Signal, one of the few groups capable of handling baroque and the avant-garde with equal deftness, serves as ensemble-in-residence for the series, and will be joined by the celebrated harpsichordist Kristian Bezuidenhout.

The 2014-15 season also continues a trend, under Smey's leadership, of developing strong, multi-year relationships with performers across a variety of genres. For example, the Early Music and Jazz series both feature a lineup of audience favorites who have performed at Miller in seasons past, and return with exciting new repertoire. Miller also welcomes back to Composer Portraits such "alums" as International Contemporary Ensemble, Either/Or, JACK Quartet, Yarn/Wire, Third Coast Percussion, and Ensemble Signal.

The Morningside Lights partnership with the Arts Initiative at Columbia-a series of participatory lantern-making workshops culminating in an eerily beautiful illuminated procession-will return as a beloved September tradition for campus and community. ThisHuffington Post video captures the magic of Morningside Lights, from workshop to parade.

In the words of Executive Director Melissa Smey, "We have an incredibly diverse lineup of performances coming to Miller in 2014 - 2015. For longtime fans, next season offers several chances to hear new work by returning favorites, such as Michael Gordon, Helmut Lachenmann, Augusta Read Thomas, and Lionel Loueke. For newcomers, it provides the perfect introduction to what we do best: world premiere performances, free community events, engaging early music concerts, and adventurous multimedia work. We'll be highlighting a number of influential American voices, from longtime Columbia professor Chou Wen-chung to Brooklyn-based composer/performer Missy Mazzoli to the incredible muralist Maya Hayuk. There's a lot to be excited about."

Full details on the 2014-15 season follow:

Thursday, September 18, 2014, 8 p.m.
HEART & BREATH featuring eighth blackbird

Miller opens its fall season with a captivating new production. A 21st-century fantasia on 17th-century Italian music and theater, Heart & Breath deftly combines modern arrangements of music by Gesualdo and Monteverdi with contemporary works that blend music, dance, and theater, including composer Amy Beth Kirsten's Colombine's Paradise Theatre. The six musicians of eighth blackbird play, speak, sing, whisper, growl, and mime, breathing theatrical life into the timeless characters of the commedia dell'arte in this uniquely immersive concert experience.

A cornerstone of Miller's programming, these evening-length musical profiles explore the work of a single composer in depth, offering contemporary artists a space to explore, experiment, and make significant contributions to the field. This season, all eight composers will participate in onstage discussions as part of their Portrait concert, offering the audience unique insight into their inspiration behind the notes.

Thursday, October 2, 2014, 8 p.m.
CHOU WEN-CHUNG (b. 1923)

Chou Wen-chung has played a vital role in the confluence of Eastern and Western musical traditions. Born in Yantai, Chou moved to New York and studied with Edgard Varèse at Columbia, where he later joined the faculty himself, mentoring important next-generation Chinese composers such as Tan Dun, Bright Sheng, and Zhou Long. This Portrait spans Echoes from the Gorge to a string quartet commissioned in response to Bach's Art of Fugue.Joining Chou are three music ensembles for whom the works were all originally written: Brentano String Quartet, Talujon, and the New York New Music Ensemble.

Thursday, October 23, 2014, 8 p.m.

Although born in Haifa, Israeli composer Chaya Czernowin has lived all over the globe, and her work draws upon a rich palette of textures, traditions, and instrumentations. Winter Songs, an ongoing cycle of works for low instruments, "reflects on the aspect of winter that has to do with one being pulled into the cave of one's interior, into the passivity of long sleep," she says. In her new work, commissioned by Miller Theatre, Czernowin promises once again to inspire with gorgeous and exotic sonic landscapes. The International Contemporary Ensemble returns to Miller with conductor Steven Schick.

Thursday, November 13, 2014, 8 p.m.

Poetic lyricism and passionate, colorful orchestration come together to dazzling effect in the music of Bernard Rands. Born in England, the composer emigrated to the United States in 1975 following studies with Berio and Dallapiccola. Miller celebrates Rands' 80th birthday with the local premiere of his newest vocal work, sensitively performed by the young Met Opera star Anthony Roth Costanzo.

Friday, December 5, 2014, 8 p.m.
KEERIL MAKAN (b. 1972)

Keeril Makan is an artist who delves deep, engaging with and reflecting human struggles and emotions in his work. His early compositions explored the violence of the war in Afghanistan as well as his own personal struggle with depression. In more recent works, Makan has embraced stillness, celebrating sound in and of itself, and demonstrating an elegant control of timbre and color. This program features a new work, to be debuted by contemporary music ensemble and long-time Miller Theatre collaborators Either/Or.

Thursday, February 5, 2015, 8 p.m.

Versatile and dynamic, American composer Missy Mazzoli's work includes commissions from Carnegie Hall, the Kronos Quartet, the LA Phil, and the Whitney Museum of Art. This Portrait highlights Mazzoli's diverse works for strings, including solo pieces for cello and violin, Harp and Altar-a love song to the Brooklyn Bridge that fuses string quartet with pre-recorded electronics and the poetry of Hart Crane-and the world premiere of a new string quartet written for ETHEL.

Thursday, February 19, 2015, 8 p.m.

Italian composer Stefano Gervasoni studied composition with European masters such as Luigi Nono, Helmut Lachenmann, Brian Ferneyhough, and György Ligeti and his work reflects these influences, as well as his time spent at ICRAM. Yarn/Wire joins forces with two groups making their Miller mainstage debut: the Mivos Quartet and Ekmeles.

Thursday, March 5, 2015, 8 p.m.

Augusta Read Thomas wowed audiences and critics at her first Miller Portrait a decade ago, and she remains among the most prominent composers of her generation. Now she returns with a program including Resounding Earth, a percussion tour-de-force that brings together bells from around the world. Another highlight is the world premiere of an octet composed especially for the occasion, co-commissioned by Miller Theatre and Third Coast Percussion. Rounding out the performers is the JACK Quartet.

Thursday, April 23, 2015, 8 p.m.
ANNA CLYNE (b. 1980)

Though her earliest published pieces are still little more than a decade old, Anna Clyne is quickly becoming one of the most sought after electro-acoustic composers active today. Since 2009 she has been Composer-in-Residence at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, whose music director, Riccardo Muti, praised her as "an artist who writes from the heart, who defies categorization." Clyne frequently collaborates with filmmakers, visual artists, and choreographers to transform her compositions into multi-sensory experiences. She is joined by Miller favorites Ensemble Signal and conductor Brad Lubman.

Now in its second season, Miller's new twist on its ongoing Bach series celebrates J.S.'s legacy and continuing influence by pairing Bach with contemporary composers. Ensemble Signal will serve as the ensemble-in-residence. Though Signal is best known for their new-music performances, the ensemble has made several forays into historical repertoire in recent years, approaching early-music works with the same intelligence, sensitivity, and excitement as newly-minted pieces.

Thursday, March 12, 2015, 8 p.m.

Bang on a Can co-founder Michael Gordon is constantly staking out new territory-a quest exemplified by Hyper, his musical manifestation of a never-ending staircase that, curiously, delivers the climber back to the point where they began. This same inquisitiveness draws him to Bach, a harmonic and structural innovator. The program pairs Gordon's chamber pieces with two of Bach's concertos.

Thursday, April 9, 2015, 8 p.m.