Peak Performances Presents THE NATIONAL ANTHEMS, Performed By The Crossing

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Peak Performances Presents THE NATIONAL ANTHEMS, Performed By The CrossingPeak Performances Presents the national anthems (New York Area Premiere). The Crossing (Donald Nally, Conductor) With the Strings of International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) Music by David Lang, Caroline Shaw, and Ted Hearne

Performance Date: September 29
The Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University (1 Normal Ave., Montclair, NJ) $30; FREE for Montclair State undergraduates with ID or 973.655.5112

Peak Performances' 2018-2019 season obliterating conventions of the stage and society continues with the national anthems, a concert from the "superb" (The New Yorker), Donald Nally-conducted chamber choir The Crossing, with works from three powerhouse composers: Pulitzer Prize winners Caroline Shaw and David Lang, and Pulitzer Prize finalist Ted Hearne. The strings players of International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) magnify the impact of this stirring and timely concert, whichasks: where does patriotism end and nationalism begin? Are there universal values that transcend national borders? The Crossing, winner of the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance, makes its debut at Peak Performances Saturday, September 29 at 7:30pm, at the Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University.

In the national anthems,CarolineShaw's 2016 To the Hands-exploring diaspora and displacement-and Ted Hearne's Consent and What it might say-investigating the language of sexual violence-are balanced with David Lang's titular meditation on the nature of national anthems. These works look at the ways humans use words to describe desires, fears, and needs as pertaining to homelands, homelessness, and human relationships.

Lang's the national anthems provides the concert's powerful anchor. The composer writes, "Hiding in every national anthem is the recognition that we are insecure about our freedoms, that freedom is fragile, and delicate, and easy to lose. Maybe an anthem is a memory informing a kind of prayer, a heartfelt plea: 'There was a time when we were forced to live in chains. Please don't make us live in chains again.'"

Caroline Shaw's piece finds inspiration in Buxtehude's Membra Jesu Nostri and Emma Lazarus's The New Colossus (quoted on the Statue of Liberty), and shifts focus from the suffering of Jesus to the suffering of refugees. The composer says, "I'm not sure I can say that I should or that I can present work that's meaningful and deeply engages with issues. But I want to try, and I have to keep trying. And I think there's something about engaging with political issues specifically in choral music because it's a very community-oriented art. There is, or at least there used to be, a really great tradition of community choirs around the world. You can write something that people sing together and talk about with each other, and that's where the conversations have to start."

Performance Schedule and Ticketing

The national anthems will take place at the Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University (1 Normal Ave, Montclair, NJ), Saturday, September 29 at 8pm.

Immediately following the performance, the public can engage in a First Impressions talk, sharing reflections and responses with Peak Performances executive director Jedediah Wheeler, composer David Lang, conductor Donald Nally, and the musicians.

Tickets, affordably priced at $30 (and free for Montclair State University undergraduates), can be purchased at or 973.655.5112.

Donald Nally is responsible for imagining, programming, commissioning, and conducting at The Crossing. He is also the director of choral organizations at Northwestern University where he holds the John W. Beattie Chair of Music. Donald has served as chorus master at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Welsh National Opera, Opera Philadelphia, and for many seasons at the Spoleto Festival in Italy. He has also served as music director of Cincinnati's Vocal Arts Ensemble, chorus master at The Chicago Bach Project, and guest conductor throughout Europe and the United States, most notably with the Grant Park Symphony Chorus, the Philharmonia Chorus (London), the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, and the Latvian State Choir (Riga).

Donald, with The Crossing, was the American Composers Forum 2017 Champion of New Music; he received the 2017 Michael Korn Founders Award from Chorus America. He is the only conductor to have two ensembles receive the Margaret Hillis Award for Excellence in Choral Music: in 2002 with the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia and in 2015 with The Crossing. Collaborations have included the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center, Mostly Mozart, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, National Sawdust, the Barnes Foundation, Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the American Composers Orchestra, and The Big Sky Conservatory in Montana where The Crossing holds an annual residency. In the 2017-18 season, he collaborates as guest director with Lisson Gallery (London), The Cathedral Choral Society (Washington, D.C.), Haymarket Opera (Chicago), David Lang's The Mile Long Opera (on the High Line in New York City), and is visiting resident artist at the Park Avenue Armory.

About The Crossing

The Crossing is a professional chamber choir conducted by Donald Nally and dedicated to new music. Consistently recognized in critical reviews, the ensemble regularly collaborates with some of the nation's most accomplished ensembles and creative composers. It is committed to working with creative teams to make and record new, substantial works for choir, most often addressing social issues.

Highly sought-after for collaborative projects, The Crossing's first collaboration was as the resident choir of the Spoleto Festival, Italy, in 2007. Regular collaborators include the International Contemporary Ensemble, American Composers Orchestra, Network for New Music, Lyric Fest, Piffaro, PRISM Saxophone Quartet, Toshimaru Nakamura, Beth Morrison Projects, Allora & Calzadilla. Upcoming collaborations include the National Gallery in Washington, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Northwestern University, Harvard University, and the Park Avenue Armory. The Crossing holds an annual residency at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky, Montana.

The Crossing has presented over sixty commissioned world premieres from some of the world's leading composers, including: Michael Gordon, Lansing McLoskey, John Luther Adams, Kile Smith, David Lang, Ted Hearne, Caroline Shaw, David T. Little, Robert Maggio, Gavin Bryars, Thomas Lloyd, Hans Thomalla. With a commitment to recording their commissions, The Crossing has thirteen commercially-released recordings, with two more due to be released in early 2018.

Nominated for the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance, The Crossing, with Donald Nally, is the American Composers Forums' 2017 Champion of New Music. They are the recipient of the 2015 Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence, three ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, as well as the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award (with composer Joel Puckett) from Chorus America. Donald Nally was awarded the 2017 Michael Korn Award and the 2012 Louis Botto Award for Innovative Action and Entrepreneurial Zeal for his work with The Crossing.

The Crossing is represented by Alliance Artist Management.

About Peak Performances

Peak Performances is a program of the Office of Arts and Cultural Programming at Montclair State University and has been honored by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts with an Arts Citation of Excellence and Designation of Major Impact. Programs in this season are made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

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