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National Sawdust Announces Lineup For Streaming Digital Discovery Festival

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The lineup includes Conrad Tao, Thana Alexa & Antonio Sanchez, Amir ElSaffar and more!

For Volume 15 of the Digital Discovery Festival, National Sawdust is erecting Global Bridges, spanning audiences and artists hailing from an array of unique ethnic and national backgrounds, proving that (even in crisis) we can reap the benefits of the modern urban experiment.

The composer and pianist Conrad Tao has been called "one of classical music's faces to watch" and a musician of "probing intellect and open-hearted vision" by The New York Times. This Warner Classics artist will find a welcome showcase for his considerable talent at his August 18 Discovery Concert, where he will perform John Adam's "China Gate" and a series of original improvisations.

Four-time Downbeat Critics Poll Rising Female Vocalist nominee Thana Alexa was set to premiere her newest album, Ona ("She" in Croatian) at National Sawdust in March when the pandemic sidetracked that release. On August 20, the Digital Discovery Festival will host a dual performance from Alexa and her husband, the Pat Metheny sideman and Birdman original soundtrack composer, percussionist Antonio Sánchez. Their program will explore how the pair use song to connect cultures and musical traditions, both as performers and as a couple.

Week fifteen culminates in a Masterclass performance and conversation with vocalist Helga Davis, composer and National Sawdust co-founder Paola Prestini and the multi-instrumental jazz / classical / Arab-traditional performance innovator Amir ElSaffar on August 21. The trio will discuss the technique and purposes of musical fusion, how they choose which wells they draw from to best realize their work, and the role of the modern artist in a post-COVID world.

Completing our trip around the world, the Digital Discovery Festival Archives will host the video premiere of Chinese composer Huang Ruo's spatially-sprawling participatory music piece, Sonic Great Wall. Originally performed at National Sawdust's 2019's FERUS Festival, Ruo's composition seeks to build spiritual connection by breaking down physical and intellectual barriers.

National Sawdust's physical doors are still closed but, thanks to a generous grant from the Alphadyne Foundation, the mission of providing artists the resources and support they need to create and present new work continues with the Digital Discovery Festival, featuring over 100 artists from May through August. All past and present Digital Discovery Festival events are accessible on the newly-constructed Live@NationalSawdust website, as well as on Facebook Live, entirely free of charge.

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