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Miller Theatre Announces 2016-17 Season of New Music, Early Music and Jazz

Miller Theatre at Columbia University School of the Arts has announced its 2016-17 Season.

Miller Theatre has been heralded by The New York Times for its "transformative impact on musical culture in New York City" and exerting an "oversize influence on tastes and trends." Indeed, many credit Miller Theatre with pioneering the kind of programming that bigger organizations now emulate.

Since becoming Executive Director in 2009, Melissa Smey has continued Miller Theatre's tradition of adventurous programming, while steering Miller toward new territory -- welcoming a stylistically eclectic mix of international composers and ensembles(this year Lei Liang, Beat Furrer, Johannes Maria Staud, Klas Torstensson, Ensemble SON as well as local mainstays Steve Reich and John Zorn); expanding Miller's leadership in community engagement (Pop-Up Concerts, Morningside Lights, public murals in Miller's lobby commissioned from cutting-edge artists, and new family productions on a very high level: Carnival of the Animals and The Bremen Town Band); and recalibrating the gender imbalance in classical music by showcasing the work of female composers and artists (this year Zosha Di Castri, Misato Mochizuki, Courtney Bryan, Alicia Olatuja), a development hailed by The New Yorker and The New York Times.

Smey is very excited about her Jazz series this season, which culminates with the only NY stop for the SFJAZZ Collective's Miles Davis tribute, and is proud to present the story-based New York recital debut of Tim Munro, the formidable and fabulous former flutist for eighth blackbird. Some of the best new-music ensembles in the world have a home at Miller Theatre (JACK Quartet, Either/Or, Ensemble Signal, Yarn/Wire, Ekmeles, loadbang), as do early music favorites Tallis Scholars, Stile Antico, Orlando Consort, and New York Polyphony.

In the words of Executive Director Melissa Smey: "Miller Theatre's 2016-17 season celebrates a multiplicity of voices from a wide range of genres, backgrounds, and time periods. We start in September with a double bill in honor of Steve Reich's 80th birthday and continue with seven Composer Portraits from Japan, Sweden, Canada, Austria, and the U.S., including an all-star Portrait of John Zorn. The multi-talented flutist Tim Munro makes his New York recital debut at Miller in November, with an incredibly creative contemporary program combining music, storytelling, and song. Our family programming will also grow, with a new production of The Bremen Town Band, featuring an original score I've commissioned from composer Courtney Bryan. In early music, we'll help New York Polyphony celebrate their 10th year and shine a spotlight on the under-appreciated composer Loyset Compère. I'm also excited to welcome several new artists appearing in next season's Jazz series, including trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and vocalist Alicia Olatuja. As always at Miller, there's no shortage of new and exciting programming to experience, whatever your interests."

The 2016-17 Season:


Thursday, September 15, 2016, 8 p.m.

Steve Reich: Variations

featuring Ensemble Signal

Steve Reich turns 80 this fall, and Miller Theatre joins with concert halls around the world to celebrate this iconic American composer. Rather than reprising the composer's classics, Miller partners with regular Reich collaborators Ensemble Signal to spotlight two large-ensemble late works deserving of greater attention and that have never been programmed together before: the Daniel Variations and You Are Variations. The former is a moving tribute to journalist Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped in Pakistan in 2002; the latter, an energizing meditation on the self-its essence, its relationship to the divine, and how it comes to life in our actions.


Thursday, November 10, 2016, 8 p.m.

Tim Munro: Recounting

Tim Munro, flute; Kate Soper, soprano
Mary Ellen Stebbins, lighting design

Until recently, Tim Munro was the charismatic flutist of Grammy-winning new music group eighth blackbird. In this evocative program, he makes his New York solo debut, combining music, storytelling, and song with dreamy lighting and a bevy of new works. The featured composers (Christopher Cerrone, Brett Dean, Kate Soper, Malin Bång,Dave Reminick, Tom Johnson) run the gamut stylistically, from post-punk guitarist to literature buff to Pulitzer Prize finalist. Through their works, Munro explores the time between sleep and waking, that fertile moment when we remember and tell our tales, before drifting off to dreaming.


A cornerstone of Miller's programming, these "endlessly important" (The New York Times) and "indispensable" (The New Yorker) 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, seven composers from Japan, Sweden, Austria, and the U.S. will participate in onstage discussions as part of their Portrait, offering the audience unique insight into their inspiration behind the notes.Zachary Woolfe writes in The New York Times: "Miller Theater's marquee series offers immersions into a single composer's work at a time. Melissa Smey, the theater's executive director, gives all-too-rare attention to female artists."

Thursday, October 20, 2016, 8 p.m.

John Zorn

American Brass Quintet; JACK Quartet
Talea Ensemble; James Baker, conductor
and special guests

As prolific as he is provocative, John Zorn returns to Composer Portraits with five new pieces, all slated to receive their world premiere performances. A dream team of new music superstars comes together to give voice to Zorn's newest creations, affirming once more the depth and breadth of his musical palette, which draws on punk, jazz, klezmer, classical, and other genres-spanning continents and centuries.

Blue Strategem (2016) - world premiere
Cagliostro (2016) - world premiere
Candlemas Eve (2016) - world premiere
Freud (2016) - world premiere
Obscure Objects of Desire (2016) - world premiere
Il n'y a plus de firmament (2014)
Oviri (2014)

Thursday, November 17, 2016, 8 p.m.

Lei Liang

Mark Dresser, contrabass; loadbang
JACK Quartet; Steve Schick, conductor

As a student, Lei Liang attended class mere blocks from the Tiananmen Square protests; ever since, he has viewed art as a way to counteract violence and find freedom. His compositions pay homage to his Chinese culture while drawing on Western counterpoints. This Portrait, performed by several of Liang's West Coast colleagues, explores opposing forces, bringing together light and dark, paradise and inferno.

New work for loadbang (2016) - world premiere, Miller Theatre co-commission
Luminous (2014) - New York premiere
Ascension (2008)
Serashi Fragments (2005)

Thursday, December 1, 2016, 8 p.m.

Zosha Di Castri

Yarn/Wire; Ekmeles

"Imagine music on a spectrum," says Zosha Di Castri. "Sometimes it will be absolute music, sometimes it will be more static and reflective." Pianists, percussionists, and vocalists come together to explore the rich spectrum within Di Castri's work. Two world premiere performances-including Near Mute Force for both ensembles' full complement of musicians-are among the evening's repertoire.

New work for Yarn/Wire (2016) - world premiere
Near Mute Force (2016) - U.S. premiere
The Animal after Whom Other Animals are Named (2013)
for vocal ensemble and electronics
The Thinking Eye (2006) for solo piano

Thursday, February 2, 2017, 8 p.m.

Beat Furrer

Either/Or; Richard Carrick, conductor

Swiss-Austrian composer Beat Furrer is a master of form and texture. His 40-year career spans forays into opera, chamber works, music theater, orchestral pieces, and everything in between. This program focuses on more intimate works from the last two decades, two of them never before heard in the U.S. Richard Carrick conducts Either/Or in Furrer's nuanced explorations of percussion, bass flute, piano, strings, and more.

New work for clarinet and string quartet (2016) - U.S. premiere
linea dell'orizzonte (2012)
Ira - Arca (2012) for bass flute and double bass - U.S. premiere
spur (1998) for piano and string quartet
Thursday, March 2, 2017, 8 p.m.

Misato Mochizuki

Yarn/Wire; JACK Quartet

Shaped by studies in Tokyo and Paris, composer Misato Mochizuki's music integrates Occidental tradition, the Asiatic connection to breath, and a fascination with ritual. Equally active in Japan and Europe, she has been featured at the Louvre and Tokyo's Suntory Hall. Mochizuki has just begun to make inroads in New York, and Miller is pleased to introduce her work more broadly through this Portrait, building on her relationship with local ensemble Yarn/Wire.

Le monde des ronds et des carrés (2015)
Intermezzi III (2010) for solo percussion
Terres rouges (2005-06) for string quartet - U.S. premiere
Moebius-Ring (2003) for solo piano - U.S. premiere
Au bleu bois (1998) - U.S. premiere

Saturday, April 8, 2017, 8 p.m.

Johannes Maria Staud

Ensemble Signal; Brad Lubman, conductor

Johannes Staud takes his inspiration from many sources-literature, political events, even streets he's walked down. He is a transformer of mediums, taking meaningful words and images and creating music. Staud pays homage to Pissarro, Debussy, and the city of London in the fragile and impressionistic Sydenham Music. Another standout on the program is Towards a Brighter Hue, a nod to the wooden sculptures of British artist David Nash. Ensemble Signal guides audiences through this synaesthetic evening of truly inspired music.

Wheat, not oats, dear. I'm afraid. (2015)
Par Ici! (2011) - U.S. premiere
Sydenham Music (2007) - New York premiere
Towards a Brighter Hue (2004)
Black Moon (1998)

Thursday, April 27, 2017, 8 p.m.

Klas Torstensson

Either/Or; Ensemble SON

Sweden's Ensemble SON teams up with Miller favorites Either/Or to introduce Klas Torstensson, one of Scandanavia's most important voices, to New Yorkers. Championed by conductor Peter Eötvös and celebrated at new music festivals in Huddersfield, Vienna, and Darmstadt, the composer has explored Nordic history and themes in works inspired by the polar seas and Arctic expeditions of yore. This program highlights chamber works, including a new octet composed especially for this occasion, for Either/Or and SON.

Double Quartet (2016) - world premiere
Sönerna (2016) - U.S. premiere
No slash (2016) - U.S. premiere
Elliott likes bebop (2016) - U.S. premiere

Major support for Composer Portraits is provided by
the National Endowment for the Arts and the Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts


Miller Theatre's "essential" (The New Yorker) Early Musicseries has been lauded as a leader in the scene. This year's series highlights many of the undisputed masters of the genre as Miller welcomes back The Tallis Scholars, Stile Antico, Orlando Consort, and New York Polyphony. The result is gloriously transcendent music of the Renaissance, brought to life by some of the best choral singers from around the world.

Saturday, December 10, 2016, 8 p.m.
Church of St. Mary the Virgin (145 West 46th Street)

A Renaissance Christmas

The Tallis Scholars

Britain's lauded Renaissance choir returns with a seasonal program focused on classic texts about the Christmas story, as interpreted and set to music by some of the lesser-known masters of early music. Josquin, Victoria, and Taverner mingle with Franco-Flemish and Mexican contemporaries, in a program that celebrates the wonder and magic of the season.

Saturday, January 21, 2017, 8 p.m.
Church of St. Mary the Virgin (145 West 46th Street)

Palestrina's Marcellus Mass

New York Polyphony

with special guests Tim Keeler, countertenor
Andrew Fuchs, tenor; Jonathan Woody, bass-baritone

Since forming a decade ago, New York Polyphony has become an admired addition to the international early music scene-and a regular on Miller's series. Together with several special guests, they take on a landmark work: Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli, or Pope Marcellus Mass, a stalwart of many a music appreciation curriculum, and a splendid example of polyphony that is both technically impeccable and glorious to hear. They round out the program with a new work by Moody, a protégé of respected choral composer John Tavener.

Saturday, February 25, 2017, 8 p.m.
150 W83 (150 West 83rd Street)

The Voice of Melody

Stile Antico

Each of the 12 members of Stile Antico has chosen one musical gem drawn from five centuries of glorious repertoire, including Orlando Gibbons' uplifting "O Clap Your Hands," William Byrd's exciting "Vigilate," and works by the prolific Thomas Tallis. For those new to the repertoire, the program provides an engaging introduction to Renaissance vocal music; for longtime fans, it's a chance to hear some old favorites.

Saturday, March 25, 2017, 8 p.m.
150 W83 (150 West 83rd Street)

Rediscovering Compère

Orlando Consort

The name Loyset Compère is not as familiar as Dufay or Josquin, but many-the Orlando Consort among them-believe that this Franco-Flemish composer deserves a place amongst the masters of the 15th century. His early Renaissance compositions combine a sophisticated technical mind with an ear for sheer beauty. This program makes the case for Compère with a wide variety of works: his stately "Magnificat," moving motets, and a range of secular songs, from laugh-out-loud bawdy to exquisitely romantic.


Jazz was built on the confluence of musical cultures. This year's series highlights its continued evolution, with artists whose backgrounds and influences span hip-hop, classical, and international musical traditions.

Saturday, October 22, 2016, 8 p.m.

Vijay Iyer Trio

Vijay Iyer, piano; Stephan Crump, bass; Tyshawn Sorey, drums

Vijay Iyer is no stranger to Miller audiences: he performed with Craig Taborn a few years back, and his works for classical players have also been featured on Miller's stage. This time around, Miller showcases his longstanding trio. For over a decade, the group has taken inspiration from everything from electronica to Indian classical to the jazz legend Thelonious Monk, mashing up genres and styles to create surprising and invigorating new jazz. "The logic of repurposing has always been part of what the trio does," says Iyer.

Saturday, November 12, 2016, 8 p.m.

Alicia Olatuja Sextet

Alicia Olatuja, vocals; Rasul A-Salaam, vocals; Jon Cowherd, piano
David Rosenthal, guitar; Eric Wheeler, bass; John Davis, drums

Called "one of the most thrilling vocalists of today" (JazzTimes), Alicia Olatuja has an incredible range, fueled by her fluency in multiple world music styles, classical studies at Manhattan School of Music, and an undeniable, ingrained musicality. She wowed audiences when she sang at Barack Obama's 2013 inauguration, and her powerful vocals have received unanimous acclaim. Her Miller debut is not to be missed.

Satuday, February 4, 2017, 8 p.m.

Ambrose Akinmusire Quartet

Ambrose Akinmusire, trumpet; Sam Harris, piano
Harish Raghavan, bass; Rodney Green, drums

Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire brings his "unique spark" (The New Yorker) to Miller. Akinmusire's politically conscious compositions connect with jazz's legacy as a vehicle for social change, while exploring contemporary issues. His genre-defying collaborations with artists as diverse as rapper Kendrick Lamar, vocalist Becca Stevens, and the Osso String Quartet have also served as inspiration. In this show, he leads his quartet through an emotionally rich narrative, combining thoughtful composition with soulful improvisation.

Saturday, April 1, 2017, 8 p.m.

SFJAZZ Collective
A Tribute to Miles Davis

Miguel Zenón, alto saxophone; David Sánchez, tenor saxophone; Sean Jones, trumpet
Robin Eubanks, trombone; Warren Wolf, vibraphone; Edward Simon, piano
Matt Penman, bass; Obed Calvaire, drums

Some of the biggest names on the jazz circuit-including Miller audience favorites Warren Wolf and Miguel Zenón-come together to form the inimitable collective SFJAZZ. This touring program celebrates one of the genre's greats: Miles Davis (this is the only New York date for the tour). The band's explorations of this rich repertoire make it feel fresh once more, as revelatory and innovative as it sounded when Miles issued his first records back in the 1940s and 50s.


Miller's "exquisitely detailed, unselfconsciously playful" (Lucid Culture) Carnival of the Animals gets a new sibling this spring, with the introduction of a second original family production-a modern retelling of the Town Musicians of Bremen. Miller welcomes this new work combining live music and imaginative puppetry-serving an ever-growing audience of all ages.

Saturday, December 17, 2016, 2 p.m. & 5 p.m.

Carnival of the Animals

Music by Camille Saint-Saëns; Poetry by Ogden Nash
Lake Simons, designer and director; Laura Barger, music director

This past season, Miller inaugurated a new holiday tradition: Carnival of the Animals, in a surreally playful production designed and directed by Lake Simons that brought to life Saint-Saëns' musical "salute to feathers, fur, and fins." Theaterscene described it as "splendidly witty, sometimes poignant and sometimes thrilling, and always inventive...It was magical." Everyday objects take on new lives as lions, elephants, and birds, through the incredible work of puppeteers. Ogden Nash's clever verses plus top-notch musical performances by some of the city's best players make this an extraordinary hour-long show for all ages.

Saturday, May 6, 2017, 2 p.m. & 5 p.m.

The Bremen Town Band

Music by Courtney Bryan
Lake Simons, designer and director

The Grimm fairytale of the town musicians of Bremen tells of a ragtag band of four farm animals, nearing the end of their useful lives as beasts of burden and longing for an encore career as performers. Audiences join the quartet-a donkey, a dog, a cat, and a rooster-as they set out on the road to Bremen in this brand new work of puppet theater, featuring an original score by Courtney Bryan. Equally at home with jazz and classical styles, Bryan pens a score than transposes the tale to today, while director and designer Lake Simons animates the lovable creatures and their surprising, hilarious, and touching tale of friendship.


Public art, participatory workshops, free concerts-open to all. These ongoing programs are Miller's way of saying 'thank you' to its community, and welcoming newcomers into the fold. They are the perfect opportunity to come check out Miller Theatre for the first time, or introduce a friend.

September 17 - 24, 2016

5th Annual Morningside Lights: Traverse

Concept and Direction by Processional Arts Workshop
Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles, artistic directors

For 100 years, the Pulitzer Prizes have celebrated the great writers and artists of our time. This fall, makers and marchers participating in Miller Theatre's community-created lantern procession Morningside Lights will have a chance to literally illuminate favorite passages by great poets who have received this unique honor over the past century. The public can learn more or sign up to create their own literary lantern at

Morningside Lights is co-produced by the Arts Initiative at Columbia University; this year's theme was developed in collaboration with Columbia's Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and their concurrent exhibition celebrating the Pulitzer Prize centennial.

On view starting September 13, 2016

Tomo Mori
Site-Specific Work in Miller Theatre Lobby

In collaboration with the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery
Deborah Cullen, director and chief curator

Japanese-born, Harlem-based artist Tomo Mori creates works that interact dynamically with public space, encircling the viewer with swirls of color and texture. Composed of paint and many small cut canvas pieces or stamps, her mosaic-like compositions evoke the natural world-a large organism composed of many smaller parts. Her site-specific piece for the Miller lobby joins a robust catalog of public works, including exhibitions commissioned by the MTA, Laundromat Project, and others. Mori's Miller Lobby mural will be the fourth mural created for the space, produced in collaboration with the Wallach Art Gallery on campus.

Pop-Up Concerts

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

Giving new meaning to the phrase "close to the music," Miller's free and fun series, Pop-Up Concerts, returns for a fourth season. "An audience of the young and the brave" (The New York Times) 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. Onstage seating is first-come, first-served.

All concerts held at Miller Theatre unless otherwise noted. Artists and programs subject to change. 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 2016-17 season go on sale this summer. Subscriptions are available online at starting June 17, 2016. Single tickets go on sale August 8, 2016. The Box Office also opens for in-person and phone sales at noon on August 22, 2016.

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