Maya Beiser and Evan Ziporyn Embark on a U.S. Tour with Ziporyn's Ambient Orchestra Performing Bowie Symphonic: Blackstar

By: Sep. 20, 2018

Maya Beiser and Evan Ziporyn Embark on a U.S. Tour with Ziporyn's Ambient Orchestra Performing Bowie Symphonic: Blackstar

This fall, cello soloist Maya Beiser and composer/conductor Evan Ziporyn embark on a U.S. tour with Ziporyn's Ambient Orchestra, bringing Bowie Symphonic: Blackstar to the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA (Friday, October 12); the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington, VT (Saturday, October 13), Bass Concert Hall presented by Texas Performing Arts in Austin, TX (Thursday, November 1), and Bing Concert Hall presented by Stanford Live in Stanford, CA (Wednesday, November 7). Bowie Symphonic: Blackstar is a startling and soaring new version of David Bowie's entire last album Blackstar for solo cello and orchestra. Arranged for Beiser by Ziporyn, who will also conduct Ambient Orchestra, Bowie Symphonic: Blackstar has been performed to capacity audiences in Boston, Barcelona, and New York City's Central Park SummerStage. For the fall tour, Ambient Orchestra is joined by musicians from Boston Conservatory at Berklee.

The Boston Globe recently described internationally renowned cellist Maya Beiser as "a force of nature," and wrote of the performance of Blackstar in Boston last year, "The orchestra's approach took advantage of the rich, jazz-infused harmonic palette of 'Blackstar.' As the rest of the strings rose up in deep menace and then flitted away like shadows, Beiser's cello replaced the vocals of 'Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime)' with a shivering panic. . . 'Lazarus' reached further down into the grave and further up toward the stars all at once."

The cultural influence that the late musician, iconoclast, and actor David Bowie had on millions of people cannot be overstated. The late British star, who called New York his home, recorded his final album Blackstar in secret. For both Beiser and Ziporyn, the ambitious project of reimagining the album as a concert experience, is a personal one. "To me and my generation, Bowie was a model for what it meant to be an artist or creative person. When I heard Blackstar, just days before his death, I felt right away I was hearing an extended, substantive masterpiece, music with a truly symphonic arc." Ziporyn explains. Beiser says, "David Bowie was so versatile, and he was always exploring and evolving as an artist. He never settled for the easy path. And he himself, as a person, was the totality of his art."

Maya Beiser, described by Rolling Stone as "a cello rock star," dedicates herself to creating new realms in which concert music can exist, redefining every aspect of what it means to be a cellist in the contemporary context. Arranger/conductor Evan Ziporyn's eclectic music connects the dots between contemporary classical, jazz, pop and world music. They undertook this project because, he Ziporyn says, "my musical mind was continually expanded by David Bowie. Blackstar, his final masterpiece, has a wide palette of sounds and an emotional arc that are nothing like any rock record I'd ever heard. I immediately felt that it could and should be orchestral, and that Maya was the perfect soloist to bring his 'voice' to the orchestral world."

Both founding members of the innovative Bang on a Can All-Stars, Maya Beiser and Evan Ziporyn have been collaborators since that group was founded in 1992. Their performances of Blackstar follow their work together on Beiser's Uncovered (2014), an album of re-imagined and re-contextualized classic rock masterpieces arranged by Ziporyn and recorded by Beiser, which they co-produced. The album made the top 10 on the Billboard Classical Chart. Following Beiser's performance of Uncovered, the Boston Globe raved, "this wasn't anything that should be called crossover, cello-rock, or any other portmanteau genre. It was hard rock, full stop."


Friday, October 12, 2018 at 7:30pm

Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech

190 Alumni Mall, Blacksburg, VA

Tickets & Information:

Saturday, October 13, 2018 at 8pm

Flynn Center for the Performing Arts

153 Main Street, Burlington, VT

Tickets & Information:

Thursday, November 1, 2018 at 8pm

Texas Performing Arts

Bass Concert Hall, 2350 Robert Dedman Dr., Austin, TX

Tickets & Information:

Wednesday, November 7, 2018 at 7:30pm

Stanford Live

Bing Concert Hall, 327 Lasuen St., Stanford, CA

Tickets & Information:

About Maya Beiser:

Avant-garde cellist and multifaceted artist Maya Beiser defies categories. Passionately forging a career path through uncharted territories, she has captivated audiences worldwide with her virtuosity, eclectic repertoire, and relentless quest to redefine her instrument's boundaries. The Financial Times describes Maya as "a musician with stunning technical resources and intense musical instincts," while The Boston Globe characterizes her as "a force of nature," and Rolling Stone calls her a "cello rock star." Raised in the Galilee Mountains in Israel, surrounded by the music and rituals of Jews, Muslims, and Christians while studying classical cello repertoire, Maya is dedicated to reinventing solo cello performance in the mainstream arena. A featured performer on the world's most prestigious stages including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, BAM Next Wave Festival, Kennedy Center, London's Southbank Centre and the Barbican, Sydney Opera House, Beijing Festival, and the Big Ears Festival, she has collaborated with a wide range of artists including Tan Dun, Brian Eno, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Louis Andriessen, Shirin Neshat, Robert Woodruff, and Bill Morrison, among many others. She is currently at work on THE DAY, a new collaboration with dancer Wendy Whelan and choreographer Lucinda Childs, with music by David Lang. Her discography includes ten solo albums; her 2016 album TranceClassical debuted at No. 1 on the Apple Music classical chart and her acclaimed album Uncovered also topped the classical music charts making the number one spot on both Amazon and Apple Music in 2014. Her latest album, David Lang's the day and world to come, was released in January 2018 on Cantaloupe Music. Maya Beiser is a 2015 United States Artists (USA) Distinguished Fellow and a 2017 Mellon Distinguished Visiting Artist at MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology; her 2011 TED Talk has been watched by over one million people, and she was recently a Presenting Artist at the inaugural CultureSummit in Abu Dhabi. Maya was a founding member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars and is a graduate of Yale University.

About Evan Ziporyn:

Composer/arranger Evan Ziporyn's music has taken him from Balinese temples to concert halls around the world. He has composed for and collaborated with Maya Beiser, Yo-Yo Ma, Brooklyn Rider, Anna Sofie Von Otter, the American Composers Orchestra, Iva Bittova, Terry Riley, Don Byron, and Bang on a Can. In 2017 his arrangements were featured on Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's The Vietnam War, and on Silkroad's Grammy-winning album Sing Me Home. Recent conducting appearances include LA Opera, Hamburg Elbsphilharmonie, the Barcelona Symphony, and his own Boston-based Ambient Orchestra, which premiered Blackstar in 2017. At MIT he is Distinguished Professor of Music and Director of the Center for Art, Science & Technology. He studied at Eastman, Yale and UC Berkeley with Joseph Schwantner, Martin Bresnick, and Gerard Grisey. His work is informed by his 30+ year involvement with Balinese gamelan. He received a Fulbright in 1987, founded Gamelan Galak Tika in 1993, and has composed a series of groundbreaking compositions for gamelan and western instruments, including 2001's ShadowBang, 2004's Oedipus Rex (Robert Woodruff, director), and 2009's A House in Bali, which was featured at BAM Next Wave in October 2010. Awards include a USA Artist Fellowship, the Goddard Lieberson Prize from the American Academy, Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship, and commissions from Carnegie Hall, Kronos Quartet, Rockefeller Multi-Arts Program, and Meet the Composer. He co-founded the Bang on a Can All-stars in 1992, performing with the group for 20 years. He has also recorded with Paul Simon, Christine Southworth, and the Steve Reich Ensemble (sharing in their 1998 Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance).

About Ambient Orchestra:

Ziporyn started the Ambient Orchestra in 2016 to create living orchestral versions of great ambient recordings such as those of Fripp, Eno, and Terry Riley. David Bowie's untimely death impelled him to launch the ensemble with two tributes to this seminal figure. "We wanted to do something now, in the present moment, while our thoughts and feelings about David Bowie and what he represents are still all too present. Brian Eno defined ambient music as 'an atmosphere, a surrounding influence, a tint...pieces for particular times and situations.' Ambient also means 'of or relating to the immediate surroundings.' The Ambient Orchestra is devoted to both." In its debut performance on January 29, 2016, just two and a half weeks after Bowie's death, Ziporyn formed the 80-piece Ambient Orchestra as a volunteer ensemble of professional and student musicians from the Boston area, to perform Philip Glass's symphonic tributes to Bowie: Symphony No. 1 - Low Symphony and Symphony No. 4 - Heroes Symphony in a fundraiser for cancer research. The following March, Ziporyn re-formed the ensemble to continue their tribute to David Bowie for The Terry and Rick Stone Concert at MIT Kresge Auditorium, featuring his startling new arrangement of the complete Blackstar, David Bowie's final album, for orchestra and cellist Maya Beiser. This program also featured a new ambient-ized version of Erik Satie's Gymnopedies featuring guitarist Branden Landis, and Ziporyn's own Frog's Eye. Ziporyn and Beiser went on to perform Blackstar with the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra in July 2017. The 2018-2019 incarnation of Ambient Orchestra features an all-star ensemble including top graduate musicians from Boston Conservatory at Berklee.


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