Town Hall Celebrates Four Women Composers This Season

Featuring works by Meredith Monk, Laura Kaminsky, Twinkie Clark and Judy Collins.

By: Aug. 30, 2022
Town Hall Celebrates Four Women Composers This Season

The Town Hall has announced details on a series of concerts spotlighting four esteemed women composers who have shaped American culture over the decades: the "Mother of Contemporary Gospel music," Dr. Elbernita "Twinkie" Clark; legendary singer-songwriter Judy Collins; acclaimed opera composer Laura Kaminsky; and trailblazing composer/singer Meredith Monk. Tickets are now on sale at thetownhall.org.

Said Ms. Araya, "We are proud to present these concerts in tribute to these women who have contributed so much to society through the originality and emotional depth of their music, and through their commitment to social change."

The series begins on Saturday, October 15 (7 pm) when Meredith Monk returns to Town Hall for her third headlining appearance since she performed her Our Lady of Late 50 years ago on its stage. Joining her for the New York premiere of MEMORY GAME will be her celebrated Vocal Ensemble, including Theo Bleckmann, Katie Geissinger, and Allison Sniffin, and long-time collaborators Bang on a Can All-Stars. As its title implies, MEMORY GAME is both a look back at a pivotal point in Monk's storied career, and a richly layered portrait of how vocal music, under the guidance of an indefatigable master, can play with our expectations in poignant and compelling ways.

MEMORY GAME, released as an album in 2020, features previously unrecorded selections from Monk's sci-fi opera, The Games, and reworked pieces from classic albums such as Do You Be and impermanence. The album includes arrangements by Monk, Michael Gordon, David Lang, Julia Wolfe, Bang on a Can All-Stars member Ken Thomson, and Vocal Ensemble member Allison Sniffin.

Meredith Monk is a composer, singer, and creator of new opera and music-theater works. Recognized as one of the most unique and influential artists of our time, she is a pioneer in extended vocal technique. Her groundbreaking exploration of the voice as an instrument, as an eloquent language in and of itself, expands the boundaries of musical composition, creating landscapes of sound that unearth feelings, energies, and memories for which there are no words.

Among her many awards, Monk has received three of the highest honors bestowed to a living artist in the United States: induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2019), the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize (2017), and a 2015 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama. | INFO + TICKETS

Composer Laura Kaminsky and librettist Kimberly Reed's searing new chamber opera Hometown to the World will have its New York premiere on Saturday, November 5 (8 pm). This concert staging of Hometown to the World will be conducted by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Tania León and directed by Kristine McIntyre. Mezzo-sopranos Cecilia Duarte and Blythe Gaissert, and baritone Michael Kelly will be joined by the adventurous ensemble Sybarite 5 and a chorus comprised of 100+ public high school students from LaGuardia/Music & Art and Repertory Company High School for Theatre Arts, which is located in the Town Hall building.

The opera is set in Postville, Iowa in 2008 following the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency's massive raid on North America's biggest kosher meat processing plant. Families were destroyed, the meatpacking plant was forced to close, and Postville's ability to function was decimated. Hometown to the World tells the story of three characters from the community's main ethnic, religious and linguistic groups whose worlds collide in the wake of the brutal raid. The result is a complex tale that ends with a message of hope and equity.

Named "one of the top 35 female composers in classical music," by the Washington Post, her chamber opera As One is the most produced contemporary opera in North America, and has been mounted in Europe, South America, and Australia. Hometown to the World will be presented in association with Santa Fe Opera, as one of its inaugural Opera For All Voices commissions. | INFO + TICKETS

On Friday, January 20 (7 pm), Town Hall celebrates the Grammy-winning Gospel singer, songwriter, record producer, musician, and evangelist Dr. Elbernita "Twinkie" Clark, making her Town Hall debut in a program of her compositions curated in partnership with composer/producer/arranger Damien Sneed, who serves as musical director. In this rare appearance in a secular setting, Clark will play the B3 Hammond organ and perform her own compositions, both solo and with special guests such as her sister Karen Clark Sheard.

Dr. Clark is regarded as one of the most important gospel composers, with over 350 compositions to her name. She is the leader of The Clark Sisters, the top-selling female Gospel group in history, formed in Detroit during the 1970s by their mother, the late Dr. Mattie Moss Clark. To date they have recorded 17 albums, rising to fame in the 1980s with their gold record You Brought the Sunshine, as well as Is My Living in Vain - hits on both the Gospel and R&B charts.

In 2020 the Clark Sisters' story was told in the Lifetime feature biopic, The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel Music, which was produced by Queen Latifah, Mary K. Blige and Missy Elliott. Her latest album The Clark Sisters - The Return was released the same year. The first of the Clark Sisters to launch a solo career, she studied music at Howard University, and has had her compositions recorded and sampled by both Gospel greats and secular artists including Beyonce (on her new album Renaissance), Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Rev. James Cleveland, Jennifer Holliday, Al Green, James Moore, Aaliyah, and Xscape, to name a few. | INFO + TICKETS

Judy Collins, praised for her "pure vibratoless soprano with an angelic church-like ring" (Stephen Holden, The New York Times), released her first album in 1961 as a rising star in the world of folk music, making her concert hall debut at Town hall in 1964. But by the mid-1960s Collins, who had studied classical piano as a teenager with Antonia Brico (who led an all-women orchestra at Town Hall in 1935), wanted to make an album that would take her listeners into a new and meaningful musical territory. The result - her sixth studio recording - was the magical 1967 album Wildflowers.

On Saturday, February 25 (7 pm), Ms. Collins will perform all of the songs on Wildflowers in concert with the Harlem Chamber Players, conducted by Tania León. With boldly sensitive orchestral arrangements by Joshua Rifkin, Ms. Collins brought her interpretive skills to songs by Joni Mitchell, Jacques Brel and Leonard Cohen, who had not yet achieved fame as songwriters, as well a ballad by medieval composer Francesco Landini and three original songs, Since You Asked, Skyfell, and Albatross, which established her as a major pop composer. A cornerstone album in many people's lives, Wildflowers contains her stunning rendition of Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now which has entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It reached No. 5 on the Billboard Pop Albums charts, and remains Collins's highest charting album to date.

Five decades later, her 55-album body of work remains an inspiration to new generations. In 2008, artists such as Rufus Wainwright, Shawn Colvin, Dolly Parton, Joan Baez, and Leonard Cohen honored her legacy with the album Born to the Breed: A Tribute to Judy Collins. Tickets for this show will go on sale in September.

Since 1921, when a group of Suffragists known as the League for Political Education saw the need for a meeting space to educate people on the important issues of the day, The Town Hall has been home to groundbreaking live events that have cemented its reputation as a historical landmark. Designed by renowned architects McKim, Mead & White to reflect the democratic principles of the League, Town Hall opened its doors on January 12, 1921. Box seats were eliminated and no seats had an obstructed view giving birth to the term "Not a bad seat in the house." That year German composer Richard Strauss made his US debut when he performed a series of concerts that cemented its reputation as an ideal venue for musical performances. Since then, Town Hall has become world-renowned for its civic events and for its history of debuts and inclusivity. While the 20s and 30s at the Hall were best known for debuts like that of Isaac Stern, Marian Anderson and Pablo Casals, the 40s and 50s were known for both classical and jazz concerts. In 1945, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker introduced bebop to the world at Town Hall. Those years saw the concert hall debuts of Billie Holiday, Glenn Gould, Leontyne Price and Nina Simone, among others. The 1960s saw the concert hall debut of Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, and others from the world of folk music as well as the theater debuts of Dick Gregory, Redd Foxx and Nichols and May, among other comics.

From 1935 - 1956, Town Hall hosted America's Town Meeting of the Air, one of radio's first public affairs talk shows, a program which featured guests, scholars, and experts who discussed important issues of the day. Over its two-decade run, the program's guests included Eleanor Roosevelt, Langston Hughes, Earl Browder, Senator Joseph McCarthy, Carl Sandburg, Pearl S. Buck and Mary McLeod Bethune.

Because of the restriction of the Covid 19 pandemic, Town Hall celebrated its centenary with an outdoor concert on September 20, 2021 in New York's Bryant Park featuring Grammy-winning musician Chris Thile and special guests Cécile McLorin Salvant and Sullivan Fortner, Zakir Hussain and Ganesh Rajagopalan, Damon Daunno, and Timo Andres.




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