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John Luther Adams, Carrie Brownstein, Bela Fleck, Steve Reich and More Set for Symphony Space in 2016-17

Symphony Space, New York's "cultural town square" on the Upper West Side, is proud to announce its 38th season of innovative programming, running from September 2016 to June 2017.

Last season saw the introduction of a new plan created by Artistic Director Andrew Byrne: four Projects, each uniting Symphony Space's multidisciplinary events around a shared theme. That structure returns for the coming season, which opens with a new offering: PROJECT AMERICANA (October 4 - 28) an election-year exploration of our shared culture and history. Project Americana kicks off with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz hosting Selected Shorts; continues with Acoustic Planet Tales, a weeklong residency curated by­­­ banjo master Béla Fleck; and culminates in The American Slave Coast, a special presentation featuring New Orleans saxophonist Donald Harrison, filmmaker Jonathan Demme, and spoken-word artist Carl Hancock Rux.

The SOURCE PROJECT, which examines the influence of African culture on the New World, returns with a focus on Brazil (February 25 - March 4). Along with an exciting lineup of musical artists to be announced, The Source Project is highlighted by A Celebration of Clarice Lispector, paying tribute to one of Brazil's greatest modern writers (March 1). Also returning: PROJECT BROADWAY (March 27 - April 9), taking the pulse of the Great White Way with help from a star-studded lineup of singers, authors, and directors. As in last season, it will be curated by Joel Fram and Annette Jolles; programs will be announced in the coming months.

The FUSE PROJECT concludes the season with a blast of creative energy (April 30 - May 23). It features a series of events curated by visionary composer John Luther Adams, including the New York premiere of his Ten Thousand Birds, performed in Morningside Park by Alarm Will Sound under Alan Pierson. Another highlight is Symphony Space's signature event: Wall to Wall Steve Reich (April 30) in celebration of the iconic composer's 80th birthday season. The Fuse Project shifts gears with Beats Per Revolution, a residency conceived by composer/violist Martha Mooke in collaboration with beat-boxing master Rahzel (formerly of The Roots), with a nod to the literary, cultural, and musical movements that emerged in mid-20th century America. The American Composers Orchestra wraps up Fuse with an intriguing program of works by three rising composers - Alex Temple, Nina C. Young, and Carlos Simon - plus Pulitzer Prize winning eminence John Corigliano.

Says Andrew Byrne, "The story of my second season at Symphony Space is one of consolidation and growth. Building on the successes of last season, we are bringing back and expanding the four Projects. Fuse, with an emphasis on innovation, has grown to include a number of exciting residencies as well as Wall to Wall. Project Broadway continues to explore contemporary Broadway and music theater with panels, film screenings, and stellar performers. The Source Project, our international focus, will spotlight the vital Africa/Brazil connection. And to start things off, we've inaugurated a three-week program called Project Americana, delving into issues of national identity against the backdrop of election season. Together with ongoing series such as Selected Shorts, Steinway Salon, and Thalia Book Club, we aim to create one of the most vibrant hubs for culture, ideas, and entertainment in New York City."

A month-by-month listing of highlighted events appears below. For further information, visit


PROJECT AMERICANA, October 4 - 28. In this election year, Project Americana sets out to explore our country's shared history and culture through music, literature, film, science, and thought.

  • Banjo master Béla Fleck curates Acoustic Planet Tales, a series of four concerts: Fleck with virtuoso bassist Victor Wooten (Oct. 14); an evening with rising mandolinist Sierra Hull (Oct. 15); a culture-spanning concert pairing banjoist Abigail Washburn with guzheng (Chinese zither) player Wu Fei (Oct. 17); and a colossal Banjo Roundtable with Fleck, Washburn, Tony Trischka, Seamus Egan, and Don Vappie. The weeklong curatorial residency is a first for Fleck.
  • In a category of its own, The American Slave Coast is a special live event with readings, commentary, and music performances based on Ned and Constance Sublette's powerful alternative vision of the history of the United States and the slave-breeding industry that shaped it. The renowned New Orleans musician and bandleader Donald Harrison, joined by a special ensemble, provides live musical accompaniment for this urgent conversation reframing our shared history at a particularly dramatic moment in our American lives. With film director Jonathan Demme, spoken-word artist Carl Hancock Rux, and special guests (Oct. 28).
  • On the literary side, author Junot Díaz introduces readings from The Best American Short Stories 2016 (Oct. 4); author Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist) and editor John Freeman discuss his new collection Tale of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation (Oct. 26)
  • A Thalia Docs series, Lomax, The Songhunter: American Patchwork, showcases the films of Alan Lomax, a musicologist who spent years recording authentic American musical forms (Oct. 14 - 23). His invaluable documentaries capture the makers of folk, jazz, ballads, blues, bluegrass, Cajun, and Appalachian music, from the hills and hollers of Southern Appalachia to the streets of New Orleans.
  • The Secret Science Club North hosts top linguist John McWhorter, whose new book Words on the Move examines the shifting American language, and how the tensions around it may be central to our views on identity, culture, and race (Oct. 10).
  • As part of the returning Steinway Salon series, pianist Clipper Erickson plays music by American composers, including pioneering African-American composer R. Nathaniel Dett (Oct. 20).

THE SOURCE PROJECT, February 25 - March 4. The influence of African culture on Brazil, exemplified by the Samba, extends far beyond the country's borders. Alexa Burneikis curates a vibrant series of concerts, with artists to be announced. In the classical realm, pianist Max Barros plays Brazilian composers as part of the Steinway Salon series (Mar. 2). Actors and authors (tba) pay tribute to one of Brazil's greatest modern writers in Selected Shorts: A Celebration of Clarice Lispector (Mar. 1).

PROJECT BROADWAY, March 27 - April 13. Just two subway stops north of the Theater District, Symphony Space presents a truly unique celebration of the Great White Way. Leading singers, composers, writers, and directors share the stage and present new pieces in progress, unusual collaborations, engaging discussions, inside looks at the creative process, and show-stopping performances. Curated by Joel Fram and Annette Jolles.

FUSE PROJECT, April 30 - May 23. This season's Fuse Project has expanded to nearly a full month of events designed to spark new ideas, new collaborations, and new works.

  • For the first time ever, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams curates a weeklong residency drawing on his broad cultural interests, spanning literature, film, and performances of his own music around the Upper West Side. The first concert features pianist Lisa Moore in a program selected by Adams, with music by Peter Garland, Lois Vierk, Jim Fox, and others (May 11).
  • Marking the release of Adams's Canticles of the Holy Wind on Cantaloupe Records, The Crossing performs the concert-length work for 32 singers in a church on the Upper West Side (location to be determined); Donald Nally conducts (May 12).

The week culminates in the New York premiere of Adams's Ten Thousand Birds - based on the birdsongs of the eastern hardwood forest - in Morningside Park, with Alan Pierson conducting Alarm Will Sound (May 14). In addition, Adams engages in conversation with author Barry Lopez, whose work explores humanitarian and environmental concerns (May 9), and award-winning filmmaker Lucien Read screens excerpts from a new documentary on the composer (May 13).

  • To celebrate the iconic composer's 80th birthday season, Symphony Space presents Wall to Wall Steve Reich (Apr. 30). This marathon party features music from his early Minimalist masterpieces of the 1960s all the way through recent work, performed by a stellar selection of performers and ensembles.
  • Six brand-new, staged Flash Operas, each fifteen minutes long, are presented in partnership with Experiments in Opera (May 5 + 6). Inventive flash fiction stories by Jack Handey, A. M. Homes, Patricia Marx, Andrew McCuaig, Peter Mehlman, and J. David Stevens (published by W. W. Norton), are set to music by EiO co-founders Jason Cady, Aaron Siegel, and Matthew Welch, along with Miguel Frasconi, Cristina Lord, and Nicole Murphy. A related event: a special flash fiction edition of Selected Shorts (May 10).
  • Also in FUSE is the Beats Per Revolution residency, conceived by pioneering electro-acoustic violist/composer Martha Mooke in collaboration with beat-boxing legend Rahzel (formerly of The Roots). The name refers to the literary, cultural, and musical movements that emerged in the mid-20th century, and to BPR (Beats Per Revolution), a new work by the two creators at the Project's center. Heard in its world premiere, BPR is scored for Mooke and Rahzel plus chamber ensemble; it draws texts from current events and popular culture, as well as references to the Beats, Gil Scott-Heron, and more (May 19).

As a prelude, The Beats of the Poets places Mooke and Rahzel alongside emerging and established poets, drawing on the rhythm and words of Ginsberg, Kerouac, Scott-Heron, and Oyewole (May 18). Kids will enjoy Beat Box Bonanza, a beat-boxing workshop led by Rahzel (May 20).

The series concludes with the American Composers Orchestra in Tales and Explorations, Old & New, a program of bold works by three ascending composers - Alex Temple, Nina C. Young, and Carlos Simon - plus eminent master John Corigliano. With Meaghan Burke (vocals and cello), David Tinervia (baritone), R. Luke DuBois (video), and further artists to be announced (May 23).


Along with the four Projects, Symphony Space is pleased to bring back Steinway Salon for the 2016-17 season, in partnership with Steinway & Sons. Now presented in the evening, Steinway Salon offers an exciting array of pianists, monthly from October through June (excepting January). With:

Clipper Erickson - works of R. Nathaniel Dett, Copland, Barber, David Finko, and Laurie Altman (Oct. 20)
Christina McMaster - Debussy, Domenico Scarlatti, Ligeti, Satie, and Bartók (Nov. 3)
Jed Distler - Rzewski, Andrew Thomas, and himself (Dec. 8)
André Laplante - Liszt and Ravel (Feb. 2)
Max Barros - Brazilian composers (Mar. 2)
Meral Guneyman - Broadway composers (Apr. 13)
Lisa Moore - Peter Garland, Lois Vierk, Jim Fox, and more (May 11)
Klara Min - Scriabin, Chopin, and Sean Hickey (Jun. 8)


Events by visiting presenters will run throughout the year as usual, and signature series such as Selected Shorts, Thalia Book Club, Uptown Showdown, Just Kidding, and Theatre in HD will continue throughout the season.

Selected Shorts highlights include An Evening with Carrie Brownstein and George Saunders (pictured left), in which rock star/writer/actress Brownstein teams up with masterful storyteller Saunders to co-host an evening of inventive fiction and deeply honest memoir (Nov. 1); Paul Giamatti Curates: Stories from the New York Review of Books Classics, in which the lauded actor presents selections by Chekhov, Saki, Gorey, Hardwick, and more (Dec. 7); On Being with Host Krista Tippett, with stories that center on the mysterious in life (Mar. 15).

Featured Thalia Book Club events include Ann Patchett: Commonwealth, in which the author discusses her new novel with fellow writer Emma Straub (Sept. 28); Margot Livesey's highly anticipated Mercury (Nov. 2); Chast Draws with Roz Chast, Daniel Menaker, and Calvin Trillin (Nov. 14); Elizabeth Strout: My Name Is Lucy Barton, presenting the author in conversation with Adam Haslett (Nov. 30); and Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son - 25th Anniversary (Mar. 20).

In Comedy, Broad City's Abbi Jacobson presents Carry This Book, in conversation with Lena Dunham of Girls (Oct. 25).

And for the 36th year in a row, Symphony Space celebrates Bloomsday on Broadway with a star-studded cast reading James Joyce's timeless prose (June 16).



Wed., Sept. 28 (7:30 pm): Thalia Book Club: Ann Patchett: Commonwealth with Emma Straub



Tue., Oct. 4 (7:30 pm): SELECTED SHORTS - The Best American Short Stories with Junot Díaz | PA

Mon., Oct. 10 (8 pm): Words on the Move with linguist John McWhorter | PA

Fri., Oct. 14 (8 pm): Acoustic Planet Tales: Béla Fleck, banjo + Victor Wooten, bass | PA

Sat., Oct. 15 (7:30 pm): Acoustic Planet Tales: Sierra Hull, mandolin | PA

Sun., Oct. 16: THALIA DOCS (Alan Lomax series) - Lomax: The Songhunter (5 pm); Cajun Country; Appalachian Journey (7 pm) | PA

Mon., Oct. 17 (7:30 pm): Acoustic Planet Tales: Abigail Washburn, banjo + Wu Fei, guzheng (Chinese zither) | PA

Thurs., Oct. 20 (7 pm): STEINWAY SALON - Clipper Erickson plays R. Nathaniel Dett | PA

Sat., Oct. 22: THALIA DOCS (Alan Lomax series) - Jazz Parades; Dreams & Songs of the Noble Old (5 pm); Ballads, Blues, and Bluegrass; The Land Where the Blues Began (7 pm) | PA

Sun., Oct. 23 (5 pm): THALIA DOCS (Alan Lomax series) - Newport Jazz Festival | PA

Sun., Oct. 23 (8 pm): Acoustic Planet Tales: Banjo Roundtable with Fleck, Washburn, Tony Trischka, Seamus Egan, + Don Vappie | PA

Tue., Oct 25 (7:30 pm): Abbi Jacobson: Carry This Book with Lena Dunham

Wed., Oct. 26 (7:30 pm): THALIA BOOK CLUB: Tale of Two Americas with Roxane Gay and John Freeman | PA

Fri., Oct. 28 (8 pm): The American Slave Coast with Donald Harrison + band, Ned Sublette, Jonathan Demme, and Carl Hancock Rux | PA


Tue., Nov. 1 (7:30 pm): Selected Shorts - An Evening with Carrie Brownstein and George Saunders

Wed., Nov. 2 (7:30 pm): THALIA BOOK CLUB - Margot Livesey: Mercury

Thu., Nov. 3 (7 pm): STEINWAY SALON - Christina McMaster

Mon., Nov. 14 (7:30 pm): THALIA BOOK CLUB - Chast Draws with Daniel Menaker and Calvin Trillin

Wed., Nov. 30 (7:30 pm): THALIA BOOK CLUB - Elizabeth Strout: My Name Is Lucy Barton with Adam Haslett


Wed., Dec. 7 (7:30 pm): Selected Shorts - Paul Giamatti Curates: Stories from the New York Review of Books Classics


Thu., Feb. 2 (7 pm): STEINWAY SALON - André Laplante



Wed., Mar. 1 (7:30 pm): Selected Shorts - A Celebration of Clarice Lispector | SP

Thu., Mar. 2 (7 pm): STEINWAY SALON - Max Barros | SP

Wed. Mar. 15 (7:30 pm): SELECTED SHORTS - On Being with Host Krista Tippett

Wed. Mar. 20 (7:30 pm): THALIA BOOK CLUB - Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son - 25th Anniversary

Further SOURCE PROJECT information to come



Thu., Apr. 13 (7 pm): STEINWAY SALON - Meral Guneyman

Sun., Apr. 30 (3 pm): Wall to Wall Steve Reich | FP

PROJECT BROADWAY information to come



Fri, May 5 (7:30 pm) + Sat., May 6 (2 pm & 7:30 pm): Flash Operas with Experiments in Opera

Tue., May 9 (7:30 pm): John Luther Adams in Conversation with Barry Lopez

Wed., May 10 (7:30 pm): SELECTED SHORTS - Flash Fiction

Thu., May 11 (7 pm): STEINWAY SALON - Lisa Moore

Fri., May 12 (7:30 pm): Canticles of the Holy Wind (location to be announced)

Sat., May 13 (7:30 pm): John Luther Adams: A Documentary Portrait with Lucian Read

Sun., May 14 (3 pm): Ten Thousand Birds with Alarm Will Sound/Alan Pierson (Morningside Park)

Tue., May 16 (8 pm): SECRET SCIENCE CLUB NORTH: Microbiologist Martin Blaser

Thu., May 18 (7:30 pm): The Beat of the Poets with Martha Mooke and Rahzel

Fri., May 19 (8 pm): Beats Per Revolution with Martha Mooke, Rahzel, + Sex Mob

Sat., May 20 (11 am): Beat Box Bonanza: kids' workshop with Rahzel

Tue., May 23 (8 pm): Tales + Explorations, Old + New with American Composers Orchestra


Thu., June 8 (7 pm): STEINWAY SALON - Klara Min

Fri., June 16 (7 pm): Bloomsday on Broadway XXXVI

Symphony Space traces its beginnings to a free marathon concert, Wall to Wall Bach, held in 1978 and organized by co-founders Isaiah Sheffer and Allan Miller. The music marathon then drew thousands of visitors and has since become one of the organization's signature events. Today Symphony Space presents more than 600 events each season, including music, dance, theater, film, and literary readings. Some of its

best known programs include Selected Shorts, a reading of short stories by stars of stage and screen, and one of the most popular series on public radio; National Theatre in HD,broadcasting the best of British theatre to cinemas around the world; and Just Kidding, one of the most talked about family entertainment series around town. Uptown Showdown has been called "New York's best comedy series" by New York Magazine. For more information, visit

Symphony Space is located at 2537 Broadway at 95th Street. Box office hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 1 pm - 6 pm, open two hours prior to performances and events. Tickets can also be purchased through, or by calling 212/864-5400.

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