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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.

It would be difficult to overstate the influence of Bach's works for solo strings, which raised the bar on what could be achieved with a single instrument, both musically and technically. More recently, Helmut Lachenmann has embarked on a similar quest to expand performers' sonic palettes, exploring nontraditional techniques and sounds. This program creates an eye-opening dialogue between the two, featuring Bach and Lachenmann works for solo violin and cello, an early Lachenmann trio, plus a unique collaboration across the centuries: a contemporary third part written as a companion to Bach's Two-Part Invention.

Friday, May 8, 2015, 8 p.m.

Sofia Gubaidulina shares a special affinity with Bach: both artists' music is influenced by their faith, and they share a unique blend of emotional transcendence and compositional rigor. Gubaidulina's Chaconne for piano directly reflects her interest in Baroque forms, while her Meditation is both literally based on a Bach cantata tune and formally inspired by numerology, the practice of using spiritually or otherwise significant numbers - a technique Bach himself employed. Signal will be joined by the harpsichordist Kristian Bezuidenhout.

Miller Theatre's Early Music series has been lauded as a leader in the scene. This year Miller once again presents established masters of period performance-such as The Tallis Scholars and Le Poème Harmonique-alongside emerging artists making exciting new contributions to the field, including the vocal ensemble New York Polyphony and Cleveland-based Baroque specialists Les Délices. The result is an eclectic and fascinating tour of the musical riches of the pre-Classical era.

Saturday, October 25, 2014, 8 p.m.
Church of St. Mary the Virgin (145 W. 46th Street)

Miller's favorite French early-music band, Le Poème Harmonique, returns with another evocative, candlelit performance. Lalande was the leading French composer of sacred music during the 18th century, and he wrote with an emphasis on the female voice that was unusual for his time-perhaps inspired by the vocal talents of his wife and daughters. Claire Lefilliâtre's soaring soprano shines in these Leçons de ténèbres, or "Lessons of Darkness," based on the Lamentations of Jeremiah after the destruction of Jerusalem.

Saturday, November 15, 2014, 8 p.m.
Church of St. Mary the Virgin (145 W. 46th Street)

The illustrious male vocal quartet New York Polyphony present an evening of Spanish liturgical music, beginning with a mass by Morales. Works by Guerrero and Victoria exhibit a common flair for vivid, dramatic writing, and are united by their radiant imagery. Quae est ista captures the Virgin Mary "fair as the moon, bright as the sun," while Gaudent in coelis imagines the celestial celebrations of the saints. Palestrina transforms the same text with his smooth and flowing style, allowing notes to lead gently into one another and harmonies to flourish as the saints "rejoice without end."

Saturday, December 13, 2014, 8 p.m.
Church of St. Mary the Virgin (145 W. 46th Street)

The Tallis Scholars have introduced audiences around the world to the wonders of vocal polyphony, and they have deservedly become a staple of Miller's Early Music program. The group's purity of sound is showcased in this program, dedicated to the works of William Byrd. Ye sacred muses captures Byrd's deep sorrow upon the death of his friend and mentor, Thomas Tallis, while a selection of Latin motets from Byrd's first publication, Cantiones sacrae, demonstrates the breadth of his artistry, from the exuberance of Vigilate to the restrained yearning of Ne irascaris, Domine. Works from Byrd's predecessors round out the evening.

Saturday, February 28, 2015, 8 p.m.
Church of St. Mary the Virgin (145 W. 46th Street)

Whether they're performing at the BBC Proms or alongside rock icon Sting, the members of Stile Antico fuse rich expressivity with technical prowess. These masterful interpreters of Renaissance choral music return to Miller with a program that captures triumphs and tragedies from the Imperial courts of the Hapsburgs. Across the generations, in times of peace, victory, and sorrow, the era's finest composers echoed the majesty of royal life with elegant and richly textured works.

Saturday, March 28, 2015, 8 p.m.
Church of St. Mary the Virgin (145 W. 46th Street)

The shipwrecked hero Ulysses is the inspiration for this encore performance by Les Délices, with special guest soprano Clara Rottsalk. Selections from Jean-Féry Rebel's little-known opera Ulysse provide the centerpiece, with a focus on a love triangle between the witch Circe, Ulysses, and his wife Penelope. Works by Thomas-Louis Bourgeois and Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre-a child prodigy, and the first French woman ever to composer an opera-allow Les Délices to showcase a range of styles, as well as their own far-reaching talents.

In a city so heavily steeped in jazz music, Miller Theatre continues to shift attention uptown and distinguish itself not only with a sharp focus on great jazz artists but with an artfully curated and diverse season series.

Saturday, October 18, 2014, 8 p.m.

Lionel Loueke enchanted audiences with his trio's exuberant Miller Theatre debut in 2011. Loueke grew up in Benin playing traditional West African music and went on to study jazz in Paris and the U.S., an eclectic background that can be clearly heard in his adventurous music, which blends traditional jazz styles with electric synthesizers, African kora and kalimba sounds, and percussion. "For me," Loueke explains, "the guitar is many instruments in one and has unlimited potential."

Saturday, November 1, 2014, 8 p.m.

Dynamic pianist Cyrus Chestnut's trio brings together old-school jazz, blues, and gospel with the heartfelt passion that has made him a longstanding favorite at Miller. From a childhood spend playing the piano at church, Chestnut grew to perform alongside jazz greats such as Chick Corea and Dizzy Gillespie. Now, he has earned his own place amongst today's standout players.

Saturday, January 24, 2015, 8 p.m.

With an improvisational freedom that The New York Times compared to John Coltrane, pianist Renee Rosnes has made a name for herself as an innovative composer, virtuosic player, and bandleader. Joined by vibraphonist Steve Nelson, bassist Peter Washington, and Lewis Nash on drums, the Renee Rosnes Quartet's hard-bop sound pulses with infectious energy, whether they're playing inventive originals or breathing new life into jazz standards.

Saturday, March 7, 2015, 8 p.m.

Two of last season's biggest successes reunite for this performance, as electrifying vibraphonist Warren Wolf joins the Aaron Diehl Trio. Diehl's passion, technical mastery, and love of both jazz and classical music find a partner in Wolf, his friend and a fellow young bandleader with "firecracker assurance" (The New York Times). The quartet-who played together on Diehl's debut album The Bespoke Man's Narrative-draw inspiration from John Lewis' Modern Jazz Quartet with vibraphonist Milt Jackson, an appreciation jazz lovers will recognize in the quartet's captivating mix of bebop and hard-swing with melodic precision.


September 20 - 27, 2014

In what is quickly becoming a beloved annual tradition, Miller partners with friends at the Arts Initiative to illuminate Morningside Park once more with an incredible display of community creativity. Visiting artists Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles return to Miller Theatre to lead a week of free art-making workshops, open to all, and a culminating illuminated procession through the park on Saturday, September 27. This year, the theme shares in a campus-wide celebration of African American artist Romare Bearden and his 1977 collage series A Black Odyssey, inspired by Homer's timeless epic.

Opening October 2, 2014


Maya Hayuk's vibrant, abstract murals are immersive and metaphysical, vivid visual pleasures that envelop the viewer both physically and intellectually. She has painted site-specific murals all over the world and maintains an active studio in Brooklyn. Her lush, elaborate improvisations have been seen from Australia to Belgium, Brazil to the Bowery. Her site-specific work in the Miller lobby will be the theater's second lobby project, produced in collaboration with the Wallach Art Gallery on campus.


Onstage at Miller Theatre
Select Tuesdays throughout the season
Mingling at 5:30 p.m., music at 6 p.m.
Performers TBA

Giving new meaning to the phrase "close to the music," Miller's free and fun series, Pop-Up Concerts, returns for a third season. The audience sits right on stage for these hour-long early-evening performances by today's best musicians and ensembles. These spontaneous concerts allow artists to explore new ideas in a comfortable yet unique setting. Free beer is provided by the Harlem Brewing Company. Onstage seating is first-come, first-served.

Columbia University's Miller Theatre is located north of the Main Campus Gate at 116th St. & Broadway on the ground floor of Dodge Hall. Tickets for the 2014-15 season go on sale this summer. Subscriptions are available online at starting July 8. The Box Office opens for phone and in-person sales on August 25.
Single tickets will also be available starting August 25.

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