1,000 Singers From Across NYC Come Together On The High Line For Free Performances
For five consecutive nights, October 3-7, 2018, 1,000 singers from across New York City will come together on the High Line for the first-ever performances of The Mile-Long Opera: a biography of 7 o'clock. Audience members will be active participants in this ambitious, collective, free choral work. As they walk along the park, audiences can move in and out of groups of singers, immersing themselves in hundreds of stories inspired by the accounts of a wide range of New Yorkers, about life in our rapidly changing city.
A team of artists, professional and recreational singers, public space advocates, and community and business leaders have come together to create The Mile-Long Opera. At the heart of the work is an extensive community engagement initiative, organized by Peoplmovr with the High Line, in collaboration with non-profit cultural organizations across all five boroughs: Abrons Arts Center and the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce in Manhattan, ARTs East NY in Brooklyn, Flushing Town Hall in Queens, The POINT CDC in the Bronx, and Snug Harbor in Staten Island. Each of these partners serves as a hub for engaging local audiences-by recruiting singers, holding and welcoming the public for open rehearsals and workshops, and hosting social and cultural events in the lead-up to the October performances.
The Mile-Long Opera is conceived by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang and architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Acclaimed poets Anne Carson and Claudia Rankine are writing the text, inspired by real-life stories, many of them gathered through first-hand interviews with residents throughout the city, asking what 7:00 pm means to them. While 7:00 pm almost universally represents a time of transition from day to night, when people shift from one activity to the next, these conversations reveal a vast spectrum of feelings and perspectives-and, by extension, represent the diverse character of the city's inhabitants and their individual experiences.
Lang is setting Carson and Rankine's script to dynamic new music that the immense chorus, led by Music Director Donald Nally, will sing. Elizabeth Diller and co-director Lynsey Peisinger will stage the performance along the entire length of the elevated park.
The Mile-Long Opera challenges conventions of what opera is and whom it is for. Set in a public space, The Mile-Long Opera invites all New Yorkers to join in and experience the performances at close range. All performances are free, but require advance tickets, which will be available online at a date TBA. On the day of each performance, the High Line will close early for general audiences, and only registered ticket holders will have access that evening.
The Mile-Long Opera is produced by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the High Line, and The OFFICE performing arts + film. This project would not be possible without the generous support of Target, which is the presenting sponsor, or the partnership of the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation.
David Lang says, "What I love about the High Line is that it gives you a great vantage point on the life of the city-you see the backs of old buildings and the fronts of new buildings, you look down alleys, into windows, over old broken warehouses and new fancy stores. You walk up the High Line and you can see a bit of everything. I wanted the music to work the same way: 1000 singers each have their own solo stories to sing, and you walk by them. You might hear them all together, in a haze, as you walk by. Or you might lean in and hear each story."
Elizabeth Diller says, "After working on the design of the High Line for over a decade and witnessing the rapid transformation of the surrounding area, I thought a lot about the life cycle of the city-its decay and rebirth-full of opportunities and contradictions. This vantage presented an opportunity for creative reflection about the speed of change of the contemporary city and the stories of its inhabitants. The park will be a 30-block-long urban stage for an immersive performance in which the audience will be mobile, the performers will be distributed, and the city will be both protagonist and backdrop for a collective experience celebrating our diversity."
Claudia Rankine says, "The Mile-Long Opera project on every level was a process of engagement. I stepped into the 7 o'clock world initiated by Anne Carson and reached out to a random array of people who described their dining tables. Writing into their descriptions brought them into relation with each other, myself, and Carson's text. Their lives are various and each table exists on a street I've walked or never been. The writing became a series of encounters-sites of personal theater. The tables formed landscapes that are invitations to eat, to gather, to work, to ponder, to rest, to wish, to share-or in other words, to live."
"Since we opened in 2009, we have presented thousands of programs on the High Line but never anything as ambitious and exciting as The Mile-Long Opera," said Robert Hammond, co-founder and executive director of the High Line. "By partnering with community centers in all five boroughs we are reaching audiences in their own communities, taking our commitment to make the High Line accessible to all to the next level."
"At Target, we're always seeking inventive ways to bring connection and inspiration to the communities we serve," said Todd Waterbury, Chief Creative Officer, Target. "As the sponsor of The Mile-Long Opera, we're proud to make this never-been-done-before performance free, to allow communities from all five boroughs to come together, to see and experience the High Line as it's transformed into an immersive, outdoor public stage."
Anne Carson (Librettist) is a Toronto-born poet, translator, essayist, and professor, whose work has been described as "unclassifiable, even by today's motley, genre-bending standards" (Daphne Merkin in the New York Times). After studying ancient Greek in high school, her interest in classical and Hellenic literature grew through her scholarship at the University of Toronto and University of St. Andrews, and she has since taught the classics at Princeton University, McGill University, and the University of Michigan. Carson's original works, hybridizing poetry, prose, essay and harnessing references ancient and contemporary in restrained language include Autobiography of Red (1998), The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos (2001), Red Doc> (2013), and Float (2016). Carson's published translations of the classics include Electra (2001), If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho (2002), An Oresteia (2009), Antigonick (2012), and Bakkhai (2017). She is the recipient of the Lannan Literary Award, the Guggenheim Fellowship, the MacArthur Fellowship, the T.S. Eliot Prize, the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, and the Griffin Poetry Prize. Carson frequently collaborates with her husband, artist and "randomizer" Robert Currie, on interdisciplinary performance works derived from her texts.
Elizabeth Diller (Director) is a founding partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), a New York-based design studio whose practice spans the fields of architecture, urban design, installation art, multi-media performance, digital media, and print. Liz's cross-genre work has been distinguished with Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People" list and the first MacArthur Foundation fellowship awarded in the field of architecture. In addition to directing The Mile-Long Opera, she is currently leading two cultural works significant to New York: The Shed-the first multi-arts center designed to commission, produce, and present all types of performing arts, visual arts, and popular culture-and the expansion of the Museum of Modern Art (both opening 2019). Liz is also currently designing three art installations opening May 2018: the Costume Institute's "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination" exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and two installations at the 2018 Venice Biennale. Liz is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and an International Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. She is a Professor of Architecture at Princeton University.
When, in 2008, David Lang (Composer) received the Pulitzer Prize for music for the little match girl passion, the New Yorker deemed that the former "post-minimalist enfant terrible" had "solidified his standing as an American master." His recent work includes his Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated score for Paolo Sorrentino's Youth; man made, a concerto for So Percussion and orchestra, co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the BBC Symphony; his opera anatomy theater, written in collaboration with visual artist Mark Dion, at Los Angeles Opera; the public domain, a commission from Lincoln Center for 1,000 amateur singers; and his opera the loser, based on the novel by Thomas Bernhard, which opened the 2016 Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music. His opera prisoner of the state will premiere June 6-8, 2019 in New York, conducted by Jaap van Zweden. Lang is a Professor of Music Composition at the Yale School of Music and is Artist in Residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is co-founder and co-artistic director of New York's legendary music festival Bang on a Can.
Donald Nally (Music Director) is responsible for imagining, programming, commissioning, and conducting at The Crossing, the Grammy-winning, internationally recognized new-music choir in Philadelphia. He is also the John W. Beattie Chair in Music and director of choral organizations at Northwestern University. Nally has held distinguished tenures as chorus master for Lyric Opera of Chicago, Welsh National Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Spoleto USA, The Chicago Bach Project, and for many seasons at the Spoleto Festival in Italy, and has served as artistic director of the Vocal Arts Ensemble of Cincinnati and the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia. Among the many ensembles Donald has guest conducted are the Latvian State Choir in Riga, the Grant Park Symphony Chorus in Chicago, the Philharmonic Chorus of London, and the Santa Fe Desert Chorale. His ensembles have sung with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pennsylvania Ballet, Spoleto USA, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia Cymru, RAI National Symphony Orchestra, and ICE. He is the only conductor to have two ensembles receive the Margaret Hillis Award for Excellence in Choral Music - in 2002 with The Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, and in 2015 with The Crossing. His book, Conversations with Joseph Flummerfelt, was published in 2011.
Lynsey Peisinger (Director) is a performer and choreographer interested in constructing communities and shared experiences through the artistic process. In 2017, she collaborated with Marina Abramovi? on The Cleaner, a collective performance at the Eric Ericssonhallen, presented by Moderna Museet. In 2014, she collaborated with Abramovi? at the Serpentine Gallery in London for the show 512 Hours. She has cast and trained performers for Abramovi? on more than 15 projects. The Abramovi? Method, a large-scale public participatory work, has been created in collaboration with Peisinger, who has developed each iteration. Recent theatre works include the research performance Rochambeau at Uferstudios Berlin and MIDNIGHT, at Radialsystem V Berlin, Mannheim Mozartsommer, Alexandrinsky Theatre St. Petersburg and Auezov Theatre Almaty; both collaborations with director Tilman Hecker. She was assistant director on Zinnias: The Life of Clementine Hunter and The Old Woman, both directed by Robert Wilson. She has presented performative works at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland, Performa Paço at Paço das Artes in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Robert Wilson's 2nd Annual Berlin Benefit, Hyeres Fashion and Photography Festival, Kunstfest Weimar, SESC Pompeia, Eric Ericsson Hallen/Moderna Museet. She received her MFA in choreography from the Dance Conservatory at Purchase College.
Claudia Rankine (Essayist) was born in Jamaica and is the author of five books of poetry, including the bestseller Citizen: An American Lyric, (Graywolf, 2014) which won the National Book Critics Circle Award; was a finalist for the National Book Award; and which the New York Times praised for "brilliantly pushing poetry's forms to disarm readers and circumvent our carefully constructed defense mechanisms." Her four earlier collections include: Don't Let Me Be Lonely (Graywolf, 2004); PLOT (2001, Grove); The End of the Alphabet (1998, Grove); and Nothing in Nature is Private (1995). Her new play, The White Card directed by Diane Paulus, opened at ArtsEmerson in Boston on February 24th 2018.A recipient of fellowships from the Academy of American Poetry, the National Endowments for the Arts, the Lannan Foundation, and a 2016 MacArthur Fellow, she is the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale.
Additional Creative Credits
The Mile-Long Opera's creative team also includes Matthew Johnson (Assistant Director), Jody Elff (Sound Designer), Carlos J. Soto (Costume Designer), John Torres (Lighting Designer), Katarina Henryson (Choir Engagement Associate), Robert Currie (Collaborator), and Ragnar Kjartansson (Creative Advisor).
About the Producers
Diller Scofidio + Renfro is an interdisciplinary design practice uniquely situated at the intersection of the visual arts, performing arts, architecture, media design, and urban planning. Acclaimed for their innovations integrating art and architecture with issues of contemporary culture, DS+R was the first architectural practice to receive the MacArthur "genius" grant, while simultaneously winning an OBIE Award for Jet Lag, a strikingly unorthodox piece of multimedia off-Broadway theater. DS+R has created over three-dozen installations, twelve theater works, and is currently working on two operas.
The High Line works to build and maintain an extraordinary public space on the High Line. It seeks to protect the entire historic structure, transforming an essential piece of New York's industrial past and inspiring new ways of thinking about the city, public space, preservation, and community. Through excellence in operations, stewardship, innovative programming, and world-class design, the High Line seeks to engage the vibrant and diverse community on and around the High Line. The High Line has garnered acclaim for its arts-driven public and community engagement programming. It hosts more than 450 public programs and activities aimed at supporting the diverse communities that surround the High Line and facilitating inclusive gatherings for all visitors.
THE OFFICE performing arts + film is an independent curator and Production Company based in New York and London working in ongoing partnerships with festivals, venues, and institutions to create cultural programming that is unique and mission specific. THE OFFICE produces events and performances in New York and around the world, notably with the music producer Hal Willner, with the photographer and video artist Carrie Mae Weems, and with the South African composer Philip Miller and his frequent collaborator William Kentridge, the Johannesburg-based visual and theater artist and filmmaker.
Peoplmovr is a creative studio specializing in engagement and communications. We partner with artists, organizations, and communities on the development and delivery of strategies designed to bring arts and culture closer to people and people closer to arts and culture. We center the principles of equity and inclusion in all areas of our work as part of our commitment to undoing racism. This commitment is grounded in our belief that a more just, equitable, and inclusive world is possible. We all benefit when oppression is recognized and eliminated. For more information, visit http://www.peoplmovr.com.
About the Anchor Partners
Abrons Arts Center is a home for contemporary interdisciplinary arts in Manhattan's Lower East Side neighborhood. A core program of the Henry Street Settlement, Abrons believes that access to the arts is essential to a free and healthy society. Through performance presentations, exhibitions, education programs and residencies, Abrons mobilizes communities with the transformative power of art.
ARTs East NY is committed to presenting, promoting and preserving multicultural arts to address socio-economic issues that hinder the growth of the community we serve.The organization mission is rooted in the idea that inspiring a community through Arts & Culture sets a sustainable pattern of resident-led development. Through community beautification, youth programs, public art installations and economic development initiatives AENY has a proven track record of bringing out the best in East New York.
Flushing Town Hall's mission is to present multi-disciplinary global arts that engage and educate the global communities of New York City in order to foster mutual appreciation. As advocates of arts equity since 1979, we support local, immigrant, national, and International Artists, developing partnerships and collaborations that enhance our efforts. Flushing Town Hall is a member of NYC's Cultural Institutions Group and a Smithsonian Affiliate.
The mission of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce is to improve the quality of life for all of Harlem's residents, as well as to develop and attract quality business and professional services. Its members consist of those who wish to contribute to and thrive from Harlem's world-renowned vitality and recognition as a worldwide tourist, entertainment, sports, arts, cultural, educational, historic, religious and health services destination of international diversity.
The POINT Community Development Corporation (TPCDC) is dedicated to youth development and the cultural and economic revitalization of the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx. Celebrating over 20 years of service, the POINT offers a multi-faceted approach to asset-based community development. Its programming falls within three main headings all aimed at the comprehensive revitalization of the Hunts Point community: Youth Development, Arts and Culture and Community Development.
Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden provides a vibrant, regional cultural destination that offers dynamic programming in arts, education, horticulture, agriculture, and recreation for diverse cultures and all ages while ensuring a well-managed campus for all residents of Staten Island and surrounding communities.
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