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Photo Flash: First Look at Melisa Tien's SWELL at Here Arts Center

SWELL, a music-theatre work weaving together ten original avant-garde/new music compositions, opened on July 13th at Here Arts Center. Swell was conceived by lyricist, librettist, and playwright Melisa Tien (Yellow Card Red Card, New Ohio Theatre) and was directed by Elena Araoz (Original Sound, Cherry Lane Theatre).

SWELL explored the wildly varied and often complicated relationships immigrants and children of immigrants have with America. The company of artists, with immigrant backgrounds from India, Israel, Mexico, the Philippines, Russia, Taiwan, and Trinidad created ten rich new songs based on their personal immigration experiences. The songs ranged from Deepali Gupta's (Ski End, New Ohio Theatre) "What is tea, what is water" which explored learning Hindi via Duolingo, to Justine F. Chen's (The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing, JACK Quartet) "to belong" which explored what it means to belong in a new land, to Jorge Sosa (La Reina, Prototype Festival) and Melisa Tien's "Gypsy Cab" which explored what it means to land in JFK as a brand new immigrant. Swell also featured works by: Joshua Cerdenia (Feuertrunken/Firedrunk, Virginia Symphony Orchestra), Carolyn Chen (The Sleeper and the Drinker, LA Philharmonic New Music Group), Or Matias (The Wave), Tamar Muskal & Stevie Allweiss (Two Lands), Polina Nazaykinskaya (Nostalghia, Joyce Theater), Izzi Ramkissoon, (Domesticated Animalia, NYCEMF), and Kamala Sankaram (Thumbprint, Prototype Festival).

"Everything that it means to leave your current home for a new one is something I think lots of people will find they can relate to."says producer and lyricist Melisa Tien, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan before she was born. Director Elena Araoz, whose father is an immigrant from Peru, adds "As people migrate, languages and cultures swirl, blend and shift. Through this workshop, I want to begin an experiment on how migrating and moving affects both the performance of the music and our perception of it."

This production was a part of SubletSeries@HERE: Co-op, HERE's curated summer rental program, which provides artists with subsidized space and equipment, as well as technical support.

To explore the lyrics of Swell, click here: https://here.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/SWELL-PROGRAM-2.pdf

CREATIVE TEAM

  • Melisa Tien (Yellow Card Red Card, New Ohio Theatre), Producer & Lyricist
  • Elena Araoz (Original Sound, Cherry Lane Theatre), Director
  • Jeanette Yew (KPOP, Ars Nova), Projection Design
  • Mila Henry (Words on the Street, Baruch Performing Arts Center), Music Direction
  • Joshua Cerdenia (Feuertrunken/Firedrunk, Virginia Symphony Orchestra), Composer
  • Carolyn Chen (The Sleeper and the Drinker, LA Philharmonic New Music Group), Composer
  • Justine F. Chen (The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing, JACK Quartet), Composer
  • Deepali Gupta (Ski End, New Ohio Theatre), Composer
  • Or Matias (The Wave), Composer
  • Tamar Muskal & Stevie Allweiss (Two Lands), Composer/Lyricist team
  • Polina Nazaykinskaya (Nostalghia, Joyce Theater), Composer
  • Izzi Ramkissoon, (Domesticated Animalia, NYCEMF), Composer
  • Kamala Sankaram (Thumbprint, Prototype Festival), Composer
  • Jorge Sosa, (La Reina, Prototype Festival), Composer

MUSICIANS

  • Jonathan May (Orfeo, New York Continuo Collective), Countertenor
  • Kannan Vasudevan (Thumbprint, Prototype Festival), Tenor
  • Jenna Zhu (You Across From Me, Humana Festival), Soprano
  • Naomi Florin, Violinist
  • Mila Henry, Pianist
  • Jennifer Shaw, Cellist

Photo Credit: Al Foote III

Photo Flash: First Look at Melisa Tien's SWELL at Here Arts Center
Jennifer Shaw (Cello), Kannan Vasudevan (Tenor) Photo Flash: First Look at Melisa Tien's SWELL at Here Arts Center
Mila Henry (Piano), Jennifer Shaw (Cello), Jonathan May (Countertenor), Jasmine Muhammad (Soprano), Kannan Vasudevan (Tenor) Photo Flash: First Look at Melisa Tien's SWELL at Here Arts Center
Jennifer Shaw (Cello), Jonathan May (Countertenor) Photo Flash: First Look at Melisa Tien's SWELL at Here Arts Center
Mila Henry (Piano), Jennifer Shaw (Cello), Naomi Florin (Violin), Kannan Vasudevan (Tenor) Photo Flash: First Look at Melisa Tien's SWELL at Here Arts Center
Jennifer Shaw (Cello), Izzi Ramkissoon (Composer) Photo Flash: First Look at Melisa Tien's SWELL at Here Arts Center
Jasmine Muhammad (Soprano), Jennifer Shaw (Cello), Izzi Ramkissoon (Composer), Jonathan May (Countertenor) Photo Flash: First Look at Melisa Tien's SWELL at Here Arts Center
Mila Henry (Piano), Jennifer Shaw (Cello), Naomi Florin (Violin), Jasmine Muhammad (Soprano), Jonathan May (Countertenor) Photo Flash: First Look at Melisa Tien's SWELL at Here Arts Center
Jennifer Shaw (Cello), Naomi Florin (Violin) Photo Flash: First Look at Melisa Tien's SWELL at Here Arts Center
Jonathan May (Countertenor) Photo Flash: First Look at Melisa Tien's SWELL at Here Arts Center
Jasmine Muhammad (Soprano)
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