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Julie Taymor to Curate, Host First National Sawdust+ Concert in Brooklyn This Nov

Visionary director Julie Taymor will curate and host the first National Sawdust+ concert on Friday, November 6 at 7:30pm. MADE IN BROOKLYN, an evening inspired by that artistically fertile corner of New York City, will feature music by Brooklyn-born composers including the great George Gershwin and Oscar-winners Aaron Copland, John Corigliano and Elliot Goldenthal. The concert will feature the world concert premiere of Goldenthal's String Quartet No. 1 "The Stone Cutters" performed by Flux Quartet, the "Chaconne" from Corigliano's Academy Award-winning score for The Red Violin, performed by Tim Fain & Stephen Gosling, and much more.

National Sawdust (NS), under the direction of Creative & Executive Director Paola Prestini, is the new $16M, state-of-the-art chamber hall housed in the shell of former sawdust factory. The Williamsburg, Brooklyn venue, designed by Brooklyn-based architectural firm Bureau V with acoustic design by ARUP, opened its doors to the public on October 1, presenting a diversity of genre-spanning work at accessible ticket prices.

National Sawdust+ (NS+), conceived by Elena Park, will offer two kinds of programs: special concerts curated by remarkable artists and thinkers as well as unexpected, idea-driven conversations, sometimes crossing genres, often crossing disciplines.

"National Sawdust is a place that was created to explore music and ideas," said Park, Director & Curator of NS+, "so Paola and I jumped on the chance to start a series where we could connect musicians and composers to other inventive minds, and share their interplay with Williamsburg audiences. We hand the creative reins to them and see what develops. We're thrilled that an artist like Julie Taymor, with her boundless imagination and keen musical curiosity, will curate the first concert of the National Sawdust+ series in November. And that our space can host intimate conversations that pair musicians with compelling thinkers such as Jad Abumrad and François Girard."

Plans for additional National Sawdust+ performances will be announced soon, including concerts curated and hosted by British auteur Richard Eyre and innovative American director Michael Mayer. The first National Sawdust+ talk took place on October 4 and featured Terry Riley in discussion with François Girard, as part of NS's Terry Riley 80th birthday celebration.

National Sawdust+ Talks This Fall:

Reggie "Regg Roc" Gray + Emel Mathlouthi
November 22 at 5pm

Two firebrand artists exchange ideas about how powerful work can challenge convention and the status quo. NS curator Reggie "Regg Roc" Gray is the pioneer of the flex form; his FLEXN, an acclaimed work created with Peter Sellars, recently was presented at the Park Avenue Armory. He will be joined by Tunisian composer, songwriter and singer Emel Mathlouthi, one of the great divas of the Arab World. She gained widespread attention when her song "Kelmti Horra (My Word is Free)" became an anthem of the Arab Spring revolutionaries. (Moderator to be announced.)

Jad Abumrad + Caroline Shaw
December 13 at 4pm

This pair of highly curious minds -- "co-host of the on-air amazingness that is RadioLab" (Wired) and the inventive, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and performer -- explore little corners of mutual interest that often play out in their enlivening, distinctive work. During this hour-long, wormhole topics could possibly include the sound of speaking, the vowel, pacing -- and perhaps how they each approach the creation of music.

Tickets -- $35 for the November 6 NS+ MADE IN BROOKLYN concert and $15 for NS+ Talks - are available at and 646-779-8455. A $5 charge will be added to tickets purchased at the door. Memberships will be available beginning November 1. National Sawdust members get priority access to tickets, members-only prices and unique access to artists through open rehearsals and special events.

Julie Taymor, NS+ Curator - Julie Taymor recently directed the play Grounded, starring Anne Hathaway, at the Public Theater in New York City. She also completed a cinematic version of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, starring David Harewood, Max Casella and Kathryn Hunter, and filmed during her critically acclaimed, sold-out stage production that ran at Theatre for a New Audience's new home in downtown Brooklyn. The film was shown at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival as part of the Mavericks in Film Programme and was released this summer. In 1998, she became the first woman to win the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical, and won a Tony for Best Costumes, for her landmark production of The Lion King. The musical has gone on to become Broadway's all-time highest grossing show and the fifth longest-running show in Broadway history. With the opening of The Lion King in Shanghai, in Mandarin, there will be eleven companies performing worldwide. Her 1996 Broadway debut, Juan Darien: A Carnival Mass, earned five Tony Award nominations.

Other theatre credits include The Green Bird, Titus Andronicus, The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew, The Transposed Heads and Liberty's Taken. Her feature films include Titus, starring Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange and Alan Cumming; the biographical film Frida, starring Salma Hayek and Alfred Molina, which earned six Academy Award nominations, winning two; the Beatles-inspired Across the Universe, nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy; and her Helen Mirren-starring adaptation of William Shakespeare's The Tempest, which had its North American premiere at the New York Film Festival following a world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival. Beyond the theatre and screen, Taymor has directed five operas internationally, including Oedipus Rex with Jessye Norman, for which she earned the International Classical Music Award for Best Opera Production and an Emmy for a subsequent film version; as well as Salome, The Flying Dutchman, Die Zauberflöte (in repertory at The Met), The Magic Flute (the abridged English version, which inaugurated a PBS series entitled "Great Performances at the Met") and Elliot Goldenthal's Grendel. Taymor is a 1991 recipient of the MacArthur "genius" Fellowship and will be a 2015 inductee into the Theater Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement in the American Theater.

Composer Paola Prestini, NS Creative & Executive Director - Composer, multimedia artist and entrepreneur Paola Prestini is "the enterprising composer and impresario" (New York Times) and "visionary-in-chief" (Time Out New York) of VisionIntoArt, a non-profit multimedia production company dedicated to fostering collaborative, interdisciplinary new music. Prestini has been commissioned by the BAM Next Wave Festival, Carnegie Hall, the New York Philharmonic and the Kronos Quartet. Her work has been presented by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and London's Barbican Centre. She has collaborated with stage designers, puppeteers, astrophysicists, conservationists, musicians, dancers, singers and more. She has been awarded residencies at the Park Avenue Armory, The Watermill Center and Sundance Institute.

Prestini started VisionIntoArt in 2001 while a student at The Juilliard School, where she was a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow. Since then, the company has provided comprehensive support -- from fundraising and commissioning to incubation and performances -- for more than 100 original productions. She launched VIA Records in 2014. 2015-16 is a banner season for Prestini. The Young People's Chorus of New York City will perform the world premiere of Epiphany: The Cycle of Life, which Prestini composed and which VIA is co-producing with the Young People's Chorus, November 4-7 in BAM's 2015 Next Wave Festival. On March 5 & 6, 2016, Aging Magician, which Prestini co-created with Rinde Eckert, Julian Crouch and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, makes its world premiere at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. The Los Angeles Philharmonic will present 21c Liederabend, the art song festival Prestini created, directs and curates with Beth Morrison, on April 19, 2016, at Walt Disney Hall; the lineup features the world premiere of a new Prestini composition. The Colorado, a new film/eco-cantata premieres at Houston's Da Camera and the Metropolitan Museum of Art; her new opera, Gilgamesh, directed by Michael Counts, begins development at the New England Conservatory for a Arts Emerson and Boston Celebrity Series premiere, and Old Man and the Sea, a new work with Robert Wilson, begins development for Opera Australia at the Watermill Center.

Elena Park, NS+ Director & Curator - During her colorful career in the arts and media, Elena Park has worked as producer, curator, writer, and communications strategist. She is the creator of National Sawdust+, the series featuring artists and thinkers in conversation, and specially-curated concerts. Elena helped develop the strategy for opening the new venue, including marketing and communications, and serves on its Advisory Board. She has been Supervising Producer of the Metropolitan Opera's Peabody- and Emmy-award winning Live in HD series since its inception in 2006, and Executive Producer of the Met's international Saturday radio broadcasts. Previously, she supervised Marketing and Communications at the Met, the world's largest opera company. As part of NYPL Live, her Met events included radio host Ira Glass in conversation with Nico Muhly (composer of the opera Two Boys); artist William Kentridge with NYPL's Paul Holdengraber; and a broad-based, city-wide consortium of talks and events around the Met's staging of Philip Glass's Satyagraha. Elena launched a concert series, The Met at Le Poisson Rouge, which featured Met artists such as Anna Netrebko, Simon Keenlyside, Thomas Adès, and Nico Muhly.

While Executive Producer for Music & Culture for WNYC Radio, her specials included The Ring and I: The Myth, the Passion, the Mania, hosted by RadioLab's Jad Abumrad, and Walt Whitman: Song of Myself, hosted by artist Carl Hancock Rux. Elena also produced live concert broadcasts with ensembles such as the New York Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic. She helped to conceive Season of Cambodia, a festival showcasing Cambodian art and culture in 34 leading NYC venues in spring 2013. She was editor-in-chief of and managed communications for BAM and San Francisco Opera. For the San Francisco Chronicle, she has interviewed artists ranging from Yoko Ono to Philip Glass, Robert Lepage to Clive Owen. Last February, Elena consulted on Kanye West's HD show of his Adidas "Yeezy" launch. With journalist Nadine Kreisberger, she is developing "Decoding the Soul of Silicon Valley," a podcast series featuring conversations with Silicon Valley leaders. She serves on the Strategy Committee for PROTOTYPE, an opera-theatre and music-theatre festival, and regularly speaks at conferences in the United States and abroad.

National Sawdust's Board of Directors and Advisory Board - Rick D'Avino is President and Chairman of National Sawdust's Board of Directors, which includes Adam Abeshouse, Dan Breen, Courtenay Casey, Jean Pierre Chesse, Valerie Dillon, Randy Ezratty, Chris Grymes, Richard Kessler, Roger Krulak, Harvey Mogenson, Michelle Nakash, Paola Prestini, Natalia Schwien, R. Adam Smith, Jill Steinberg, Jeremy Turner and Peter Zuspan.

The National Sawdust Advisory Board, chaired by Richard Kessler, includes Laurie Anderson, Helena Christensen, Bryce Dessner, Philip Glass, Renée Fleming, Jennifer Frommer, Nico Muhly, James Murphy, Elena Park, Terry Riley, Limor Tomer, Suzanne Vega and Karen Wong.

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Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos

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