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Miller Theatre at Columbia University School of the Arts Announces 2013-14 Season

Miller Theatre at Columbia University School of the Arts Announces 2013-14 Season

Miller Theatre at Columbia University School of the Arts celebrates its 25th anniversary with its 2013-14 season. Since its inception, Miller Theatre has served as a common ground for visionary artists and audiences with exacting tastes.

Held up repeatedly by music critics as a model for arts programming-a "pioneer" (The New Yorker), "invaluable" and "the place to go for sheer adventurousness" (The New York Times)-Miller Theatre now celebrates its remarkable history, honoring the institution's role as a pillar of the New York music community with a commanding 2013-14 twenty-fifth anniversary season.

Having flourished over the past three seasons under the leadership of Melissa Smey, Miller is stronger than ever. Smey has brought a focus on developing Miller's audience and, as recently appointed executive director of Columbia's Arts Initiative, a particular interest in engaging the neighborhood and campus. Under her guidance Miller has significantly expanded its young and diverse audience for contemporary music, while capacity-filled Early Music concerts have led Miller to enlarge the series.

A number of events in the 2013-14 season stand out for their scale and ambition. To open, Miller presents a three-night festival celebrating its longtime artistic partner John Zorn, whose 60th birthday in September is being recognized the world over. More than 100 longtime Zorn collaborators will perform, and Zorn is writing several new works expressly for this occasion. Other special events include a two-night Steven Schick solo percussion extravaganza, spanning the entire history of the genre.

The Early Music series assumes greater prominence with five of the world's preeminent ensembles, from France's flamboyant Le Poème Harmonique to England's revered Tallis Scholars (who turn 40 this year).

The Bach, Revisited series returns with a contemporary twist, featuring an incredible lineup of Bach masterpieces and modern-day works, all handpicked by three living composers: Steve Reich, Kaija Saariaho, and Joan Tower.

And the beloved Composer Portraits series, which Alex Ross just wrote about in The New Yorker, is back with a bracing international group of seven composers, ranging from newly appointed Columbia professor Georg Friedrich Haas to Anna Thorvaldsdottir, who travels to Miller from her native Iceland.
Miller's Morningside Lights partnership with the Arts Initiative at Columbia, a series of creative participatory workshops culminating in an eerily beautiful illuminated procession, will return as a September tradition for campus and community.

In the words of Executive Director Melissa Smey: "I'm thrilled about every event in our 25th anniversary season-it's a sweeping year that really shows our commitment to presenting important work not done elsewhere. To make dream programs happen with world-class ensembles and soloists who are today's most exciting specialists in modern music, early music, and jazz, is uniquely satisfying. Also of utmost importance to me is building stronger ties to the community and Columbia campus; a new wave of programs we've introduced exemplifies this, from the Morningside Lights parade to our cocktail-hour Pop-Up Concerts to this season's first-ever commissioned art installation in our lobby. At Miller, we like to think of ourselves as a creative haven for audiences and performers, a safe place for those not afraid to push the envelope. We look forward to another adventurous quarter-century, filling a vital niche in NYC."

The 2013-14 Season


This fall, Miller joins with venues across the city and around the world-from the Met Museum to the Venice Biennale-in celebrating the 60th birthday of a true New York icon: John Zorn. Miller's marathon roams widely, exploring notated and improvised music alike, and features an all-star lineup of 140 musicians, each one hand-selected by the composer.

Zorn says: "Miller Theatre and I have a relationship that goes back further than any other institution. In a way, this is my house, this is home in New York. In my earliest days as a composer in the 1970s, Columbia treated me with respect and made me feel like what I was doing had worth. Here it is 35 years later and I still feel the same. This is a very special house to me."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


John Zorn's dream team orchestra-80 players, at last count-performs some of the composer's great symphonic works, including his masterpiece violin concerto. Featuring violin soloist Christopher Otto and conductor David Fulmer heading up an entire orchestra of soloists.
Thursday, September 26, 2013


Voices, winds, percussion, electronics, and strings. A program of works for small ensembles, including four world premieres, performed by musicians from the city's best new-music bands. In all, more than two dozen performers and 16 pieces, all of them written since 2002. The prolific Zorn will write a few brand new works just for this occasion.
Friday, September 27, 2013


Without dictating any of the notes to be played, these pieces use visual cues and graphic scores to structure the interactions of improvisers, resulting in remarkable (and one-of-a-kind) performances. This program brings together works rarely heard in a single evening and features many of Zorn's longtime collaborators: Cyro Baptista, Uri Caine, Erik Friedlander, George Lewis, Marc Ribot, and many, many others. Zorn says: "The first real major Game Piece happened in this theatre, back in 1978, when Miller was the McMillin. In September we'll do three sets of Game Pieces written between 1976 and 1989, including Cobra, Rugby, Lacrosse. I think we're going to have some of the best performances of these pieces that have ever happened."

Monday, September 23, 2013


St. Paul's Chapel, Columbia University
John Zorn returns to perform on the chapel's incredible Aeolian-Skinner organ. Guaranteed admission for Zorn at 60 All-Access Pass holders; first-come, first-served for all others. Co-produced with Works & Process at the Guggenheim.


Thursday, October 17, 2013


This new, evening-length work brings together 125 short compositions by 125 different composers, written according to a compositional model created by Cage in 1945. An adaptation of a parlor game popular with Surrealist artists, Cage's rules are fairly simple: each participant receives a small portion of blank manuscript paper, along with the final few notes of the composition that will precede theirs in performance. Within the given space, the composers-among them William Bolcolm, Jason Eckardt, Annie Gosfield, Lei Liang, David T. Little, and Keeril Makan-write whatever they please, passing their final measure on to the next composer in line. The resulting piece is an incredible amalgam of different styles, influences, methods, and perspectives-a whole that is, without a doubt, greater than the sum of its parts.


Miller Theatre's "ever-intriguing" (The New Yorker) signature series continues to celebrate the best contemporary composers from around the globe-emerging and established-with evening-length musical profiles. This season, all seven composers will participate in onstage discussions during their Portraits. Three remarkable new-music ensembles return: Signal, ICE, and Either/Or.

James R. Oestreich writes in The New York Times: "This invaluable series is the centerpiece of the Miller Theater's programming, established by George Steel and carried through admirably by his successor as director of the theater, Melissa Smey, with, bless her, a greater concentration on women."

Thursday, October 10, 2013


The music of Georg Friedrich Haas possesses "an otherworldly beauty," writes The New Yorker. His compositional toolbox includes exotic scales and alternative tunings. He often draws on centuries past for inspiration, as in this program, which includes homages to the music of Desprez and the poetry of Sappho. Newly appointed to the Columbia University faculty, Haas will be the first composer of many this season to participate in an onstage discussion about his music during the performance. After his first Composer Portrait in 2009, The New York Times wrote: "One of the pleasures of frequent concertgoing is discovering an exciting new or little-know work. The American premier of 'In Vain,' a kaleidoscopic masterpiece by Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas, proved an exhilarating experience."

Thursday, November 7, 2013

RAND STEIGER (b. 1957)

Currently composer-in-residence at San Diego's Calit2 (California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology), Rand Steiger has been fascinated by the intersection of classical music and technology throughout his career. A former resident artist at IRCAM, Steiger is particularly interested in combining live orchestral instruments and real-time electronics. His new set of works for ICE includes eight pieces, each featuring different instruments from the ensemble paired with electronics.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir has burst onto the scene in recent years. Her "shimmering, harmonically ambiguous" music is oft described in cinematic terms, evoking an expansive, wintry landscape with "the impression of a distant, howling wind" (The New York Times). Her 2011 album Rhíz?ma won international accolades, earning places on best-of lists from New York and Chicago to the Nordic countries. Steve Smith wrote in Time Out New York: "Nothing is more exciting than discovering an emerging composer already in possession of a distinct, powerful voice." Either/Or plays a favorite from that record, Hrím, alongside several pieces never before heard in the U.S.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


A Pulitzer Prize winner and influential professor at UC San Diego, Reynolds has devoted his life to sonic experimentation. Following studies in music and science, he spent time in Europe and Japan, layering diverse international influences upon his abiding fascination with American pioneers such as Ives and Cage. This program spotlights two commissions for Irvine Arditti-a solo work and a concerto-as well as a newer piece for chamber ensemble that engages live performers and computer-generated sounds in an improvisatory dialogue. In the words of The New Yorker: "Reynolds is at once an explorer and a visionary composer, whose works can lead listeners to follow him into new regions of emotion and imagination."

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Unsuk Chin (b. 1961)

Born and raised in 1960s South Korea, Unsuk Chin developed a one-of-a-kind musical voice from an early age. Largely self-taught, she received her first formal training at Seoul National University, where encounters with avant-garde Western forms, sounds, and techniques made a big impression. She moved to Europe and studied with Ligeti. Her music-colorfully orchestrated, rhythmically vital, and influenced by studies in electronics-has since won the prestigious Grawemeyer Award and been championed by orchestras, new-music bands, and conductors worldwide. "Chin has created her own sonic wonderland," writes The Los Angeles Times.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Jean-Baptiste Barrière is a key figure in computer music. A native Parisian, Barrière led the city's electronic-music mecca IRCAM for more than 15 years, and his piece Chréode is recognized as a seminal work in the history of electronic music. Many of his more recent works entail live manipulation of both audio and video. In this concert, his first Portrait, Barrière premieres three pieces, one of which was previously given an early reading at Miller's onstage Pop-Up series. A concurrent exhibition and related performance offer a fuller perspective on the composer's multifaceted artistic pursuits.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

LIZA LIM (b. 1966)

The Australian composer Liza Lim is slowly becoming better known on this side of the world, with commissions from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Ensemble Intercontemporain, and Ensemble Modern, among others. Her compositions reflect an interest in Australian Aboriginal culture. Mother Tongue was inspired by the impending extinction of a native Aboriginal language. Invisibility also has its roots in Aboriginal thought, but is more practically concerned with the physical properties of the cello, using both traditional and prepared bows to unlock myriad new sonic possibilities. The Age(Melbourne) describes her music: "It's an intense and energetic music, well crafted and often deeply stimulating for the intellect."


At age 60, the percussion star Steven Schick is two years older than the oldest percussion solo in existence. And around the time that Schick turned six, Karlheinz Stockhausen put into print a new piece-Zyklus-that would change Schick's life, and that of percussionists around the world. Over a two-night extravaganza, Schick takes listeners on a virtuoso tour of this recent and powerful art form, from birth to explosive growth. Schick himself is responsible for broadening and deepening the repertoire; his many commissions have become part of a staple repertory. Steven Schick: Solo will be a portrait of an artist and an art form that have grown up together.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Schick begins at the beginning, starting in 1959 with Zyklus and continuing up through the 80s, touching along the way on works of Feldman, Lachenmann, Xenakis, and other progenitors of solo percussion, both well and lesser known. In these works, composers staked out new territory, creating sounds, structures, and methods of notation that blew conventional ideas about classical music out of the water.
Saturday, February 1, 2014


Over the past 30 years, Schick has made it his mission to expand the repertoire, commissioning and premiering more than 100 new pieces. This program features important newer works that create a continuing dialogue with those who came before, including pieces by David Lang, Brian Ferneyhough, Kaija Saariaho, Michael Gordon, and John Luther Adams, plus the world premieres of two brand new pieces, by young American composers Lei Liang and Nathan Davis.


The Bach series is back with a special anniversary twist: three extraordinary living composers, featured in past Composer Portraits concerts, return to curate an evening pairing their music with favorite pieces of Bach. The composers join executive director Melissa Smey onstage for a conversation at each concert.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


This Finnish composer's international reputation has continued to blossom since her packed 2009 Portrait at Miller. Jennifer Koh-who "gave a stunning, high-energy account of the almost continuous solo line" (The New York Times) of Saariaho's violin concerto in that performance-returns to play solo works by Bach and Saariaho. Directly inspired by the D minor partita, Saariaho's Frises draws on Baroque forms (passacaglia, ground bass, chaconne) and stretches the sonic palette of the solo violin with live electronics.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Written around 1720, Bach's Brandenburg concertos remained virtually unknown, tucked away on a library shelf, for more than a century before being published. Today, they number among the crowning achievements of Baroque instrumental writing. For her Bach series program, composer Joan Tower intersperses movements of the fifth concerto-for solo flute, violin, and harpsichord-with her own chamber music, including her trio Big Sky, an evocation of the awe-inspiring experience of riding through the Andes mountain range. The superb ensemble Curtis 20/21 performs.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


American legend Steve Reich curates a program pairing two powerhouse sacred works for voices and chamber ensemble, with Ensemble Signal. A setting of Hebrew psalms, Tehillimis Reich at his transcendent best, by turns meditative and ecstatic. Reich credits Bach's cantata as an important inspiration, its third-movement duet a model for his own. The thread of taking inspiration from the past extends to the Bach: his cantata was based on a Martin Luther hymn, which was itself an adaptation of a 12th-century Easter tune.


Miller Theatre's "essential" (The New Yorker) Early Music series has been lauded as a leader in the scene, with a series as robust as its Composer Portraits. This year Miller once again plays host to some of the world's leading early music ensembles and young upstarts alike. Miller favorites Le Poème Harmonique and Stile Antico return, and Orlando Consort celebrates a 25th anniversary of their own at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin. The series will also feature two Miller Theatre commissions and world premieres, the first from composer Andrew Smith for New York Polyphony, and a new piece by Michael Nyman for The Tallis Scholars in honor of both Miller's milestone anniversary and Tallis's 40th.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Miller Theatre
Acclaimed French early-music ensemble Le Poème Harmonique returns following two sell-out Opening Night concerts last season. Centered around Monteverdi's revolutionary Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, considered one of the finest madrigals of war, this season's program contrasts Monteverdi's dramatic cantata with a light-hearted piece by Marazzoli that parodies the same love-lorn tale. Showcasing works in stile rappresentativo-a style of singing developed in 16th century Italian opera that is more emotive than speech but less melodic than song-Le Poème Harmonique celebrates music as a means of connection and poetic communication.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Church of St. Mary the Virgin (145 W. 46th Street)
The Orlando Consort has spent the past 25 years sharing the beauty of medieval and Renaissance repertoire with audiences around the world. Miller raises a glass to these ambassadors of early music with a broad program that celebrates the very best of the pre-Baroque vocal music for which they are known. Singing with musical precision and scholarly nuance, these four exquisite vocalists offer imaginative reconstructions of this repertoire that The Times of London has called "staggeringly beautiful." The Times has also noted that "The four voices of the Orlando Consort are Medieval and Renaissance music's equivalent of a fine string quartet."

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Church of St. Mary the Virgin (145 W. 46th Street)
New York Polyphony returns with a diverse holiday program that offers an intimate and meditative take on the Christmas season. The imaginative repertoire spans nine centuries and ranges from popular early fare, including Byrd's O magnum misterium and Coventry Carol, to new carols, including a setting by New York Polyphony's own countertenor Geoffrey Williams and the world premiere of a Miller Theatre commission from composer Andrew Smith. NY Polyphony's four singers "perform with exquisite blend, spot-on intonation and penetrating tone" (The Denver Post).

Saturday, March 8, 2014


Church of St. Mary the Virgin (145 W. 46th Street)
The young British choir Stile Antico is back honoring the remarkable legacy of 16th century English sacred music with a program drawn entirely from the volumes of the hugely influential publication Tudor Church Music. First published in 1922, these pioneering editions unearthed a wealth of extraordinary music that had not been performed for centuries, and gave a stage to previously little-known composers who are now considered the heart of the English Renaissance. The program includes works by Taverner, Tallis, Gibbons, and Weelkes, and is crowned by William Byrd's exquisite five-part Mass. The twelve voices of Stile Antico perform "with a sense of wondrous discovery" (The Arts Desk) befitting a program that celebrates the revival of a beloved repertoire.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Church of St. Mary the Virgin (145 W. 46th Street)
For 40 years The Tallis Scholars have served as early music's most visible ambassadors of Renaissance choral repertoire. The Times of London notes that Tallis has "an uncanny ability to increase emotional intensity so subtly that you don't realize it's happening." This celebratory program of spiritual works spans four centuries, featuring some of the group's favorite pieces from the past four decades of performing-works including Thomas Tallis' masterpiece motet Suscipe quaeso and Allegri's haunting Miserere. The repertoire will also include the world premiere of a new piece by composer Michael Nyman, commissioned by Miller Theatre in honor of this milestone anniversary.


Thursday, January 23, 2014


A pianist of "arresting freshness and subtlety" (TIME), Simone Dinnerstein returns to Miller Theatre for her second solo recital bringing together challenging keyboard works both old and new. Though Dinnerstein is perhaps best known for her interpretations of Bach, The Philadelphia Inquirer puts her "in a league with any of the great Beethoven pianists of our time." She'll pair one of Beethoven's most profound piano sonatas with a clever work by George Crumb, the New York premiere of a recent piece by Nico Muhly written just for her, and Bach's ingenious Two-Part Inventions, which are too-rarely performed in concert.


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 12, 2013

Anat Cohen QUARTET

The Anat Cohen Quartet is back for a second appearance on the Miller stage, on the heels of their enormously popular 2012 debut. Influenced by klezmer, reggae, funk, and Latin rhythms, and known for her expressive, charismatic performances, Cohen has earned accolades from audience, critics, and peers alike, including jazz great and frequent collaborator Paquito D'Rivera who has called her "one of the greatest players ever on the clarinet."

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Following his electrifying appearance last season with Christian McBride and Inside Straight, virtuoso vibraphonist Warren Wolf returns to Miller as a bandleader. Wolf draws on his varied musical knowledge and experience working with the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon, and Esperanza Spaulding, creating inventive new melodies and modern reinterpretations of classic tunes. At once boldly expressive and finely nuanced, Wolf is " artist of immense ability and taste" (DownBeat).

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Pianist Aaron Diehl headlines his first show at Miller with original interpretations of the masters of jazz and ragtime. Meticulous in his technique and playful in his improvisations, Diehl moves easily between hard-swinging jazz and moments of elegant restraint. Having previously appeared at Miller with Wycliffe Gordon, and with a tour with the legendary Wynton Marsalis already under his belt, the young, Juilliard-trained Diehl displays "striking subtleties of touch and a foothold in the music's bedrock traditions," according toThe New York Times.

Saturday, March 1, 2014


Multiple Grammy nominee and MacArthur "genius" Miguel Zenón is widely considered to be among the most groundbreaking and influential saxophonists of his generation. Eclectic in his layering of textures and inventive in his composition of melodies, Zenón creates music that makes you want to keep listening. A Guggenheim Fellow and founding member of the SFJazz Collective, Zenón is known for his unique and nuanced blend of jazz and Latin influences, including those of his native Puerto Rico. As JazzTimes has written, "Zenón once again demonstrated why he is considered one of the best jazz musicians and one of the most creative minds in music today."


September 12 - 21, 2013


Last season Miller Theatre, in partnership with the Arts Initiative at Columbia University, hosted the first Morningside Lights-a week of creative workshops culminating in an illuminated procession through Morningside Park. This fall the visiting artists of Processional Arts Workshop return to bring local residents together to explore the theme "The Luminous Deep." Together, the community can imagine, build, and bring to life a collective sea-floor fantasy of bioluminescent life forms to light the way from Morningside Park to Columbia's campus in the Second Annual Morningside Lights. Here is a slideshow shot by Time Out from last year's "eerily beautiful" procession. This event is produced in partnership with Friends of Morningside Park.

October 2013 to May 2014


Vector Composition No. 1, 2013
Brooklyn-based artist Rafael Vargas-Suarez will transform the Miller Theatre lobby into a 360-degree art work in which abstract geometric marks suggest notes on a musician's staff paper. The artist has remarked that listening to music while drawing and painting gives his work a "musical approach." Known for his large-scale wall drawings and site-specific installations, he will use the walls of Miller Theatre as his canvas for this unique commission, on display throughout the season.


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 2013-14 season go on sale this summer. Subscriptions are available online at starting July 15. The Box Office opens for phone and in-person sales on August 26. Single tickets will also be available starting August 26.

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