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The Crossing Announces 2019-2020 Season

The Crossing Announces 2019-2020 Season

Winner of the 2018 and 2019 Grammy Awards for Best Choral Performance, The Crossing, with conductor Donald Nally, today announces its 2019-2020 season. The season-which is centered around how humans use their words and voices to promote change-includes 9 performances of Aniara: fragments of time and space in Helsinki presented by the Finnish National Opera; the world premiere of Gavin Bryars' A Native Hill at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill; The Crossing @ Christmas featuring a world premiere by Edie Hill at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Rittenhouse Square, presented by the Annenberg Center, The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, and The Met Cloisters; Knee Plays featuring the music of Philip Glass and David Byrne presented by the Annenberg Center as part of a season long residency; the world premiere of Michael Gordon's Travel Guide to Nicaragua presented by the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia and the New York premiere presented by Carnegie Hall in New York City; The Month of Moderns 2020 featuring world premieres by Daniel Felsenfeld, Tawnie Olson, and Aaron Helgeson and music by Nicholas Cline, Morton Feldman, and Toivo Tulev; and The Crossing's Annual Residency at Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky, Montana, where they continue work on a 24-hour piece of music and film with Michael Gordon and filmmaker Bill Morrison.

The Crossing revives the critically acclaimed choral-theater work Aniara: fragments of time and space from September 16-21, 2019 presented by Finnish National Opera at Almi Hall in Helsinki. Based on the epic poem by Nobel Prize-winner Henry Martinson, Aniara explores the relationships humans have to the Earth, to each other, and to the passage of time, while following the physical and emotional voyage of a group that has left a dying earth and is thrown permanently off course, heading toward the constellation Lyra. The new work was developed with the Klockriketeatern of Helsinki over a period of three years, and is composed by Robert Maggio with artistic direction by Dan Henriksson and Donald Nally and featuring Beijing Opera-inspired choreography and dance by Antti Silvennoinen of Wusheng Company, costumes by Erika Turunen, scenic and lighting design by Joonas Tikkanen, and sound design by Paul Vasquez.

On Sunday, October 13, 2019 at 5pm at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia, The Crossing presents the world premiere of Gavin Bryars' substantial new evening-length a cappella work, A Native Hill. The long-anticipated follow-up to Gavin's The Fifth Century, which won The Crossing its first Grammy award, A Native Hill sets texts by the American writer Wendell Berry from his 1968 essay of the same title offering meditations on how life can be experienced, with detailed descriptions of the minutiae of rural existence; as such, simple natural events reveal themselves as metaphors for universal truths.

The ensemble's annual holiday program, The Crossing @ Christmas, will be performed at Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia on Friday, December 20, 2019 at 7:30pm presented by the Annenberg Center; at The Met Cloisters in New York City on Saturday, December 21, 2019 at 12:30pm and 3:30pm; and back in Philadelphia at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill on Sunday, December 22, 2019 at 5:00pm. The program features David Lang's Pulitzer-winning the little match girl passion (2008), paired with Spectral Spirits, a major commission from Edie Hill based on poems of Holly Hughes.

The spring season opens on Friday, February 21, 2020 and Saturday, February 22, 2020 at 8:00pm with Knee Plays, presented by the Annenberg Center. Knee Playsfeatures the music of Philip Glass and David Byrne, texts by Robert Wilson and David Byrne, projections by Jeff Sugg, in a production conceived and directed by Donald Nally. Drawn from Wilson's massive productions Einstein on the Beach and the CIVIL warS, these two diverse and mesmerizing sets of musical knee plays are substantial works on their own, serving as a record of the time of their creation. David Byrne looks at the ironies of daily life, while Philip Glass considers Einstein's world next to the banalities of our passing minutes and asks, "Which is the simple, which the comedic, which the profound?"

The Crossing gives the world premiere of Michael Gordon's Travel Guide to Nicaragua on Sunday, March 22, 2020 at 7:00pm presented by the Annenberg Center and the New York premiere on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 7:30pm, presented by Carnegie Hall. Travel Guide to Nicaragua, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall for The Crossing, is based on the texts of Gordon, Mark Twain, and Rube?n Dari?o and will be performed with cellist Maya Beiser. For the first eight years of Michael Gordon's life, his Eastern European parents made their home in the jungle on the outskirts of Managua, Nicaragua, where he spent his days perched in trees and eating food with his hands. Travel Guide to Nicaragua is his hazy memory of this strange and good life of exotic tarantulas and parrot bites. Michael's third substantial work for The Crossing reaches beyond his childhood, pondering the world of Mayans and Aztecs, and drawing on words of poet Rube?n Dari?o and those of Mark Twain following his remarkable trip to this small, beautiful country.

The Crossing's summer new music festival, The Month of Moderns, begins on Saturday, June 13, 2020 at 7:00pm at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia with Blunt Movements: Rising Down. The program, performed with the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), features a world premiere of the same name from Daniel Felsenfeld on texts of Edward Gibbon, Susan Sontag, Thomas Paine, Saul Alinsky, James Baldwin, Cleve Jones, William T. Vollman, and Christopher Hitchens. Felsenfeld's Blunt Movements: Rising Down is a new kind of mass, taking the vivid text of Edward Gibbon's epoch-making The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire as the "ordinary" of this unconventional setting and adding texts of radical 20th and 21st-century thinkers.

The Month of Moderns continues on Sunday, June 21, 2020 at 5:00pm at Icebox Project Space with Watersheds featuring Nicholas Cline's Watersheds (2018) based on texts by Rachel Carson, Mary Austin, John Muir, C.D. Wilber, and Henry Thoreau and a rare venture into older music: Morton Feldman's Rothko Chapel (1971), both featuring films by Brett Snodgrass. Performers joining The Crossing include Matthew Levy (tenor saxophone), Wendy Richman (viola), and Ross Karre (percussion).

The final concert of The Month of Moderns is The Book of Never on Thursday, July 2, 2020 at 7:00pm at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. The program features the world premiere of Aaron Helgeson's The Book of Never, based on texts of the Novgorod Codex, and a world premiere of a new work by Tawnie Olson with major support from the Barlow Foundation. Toivo Tulev's I heard the voices of Children (2019), which The Crossing premiered at the LA Philharmonic's June 2019 Noon to Midnight Festival, will receive its Philadelphia premiere.

To close the 2019-20 season, The Crossing returns to The Big Sky Choral Initiative for a 2-week residency at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky, Montana. The Crossing will join composer Michael Gordon and filmmaker Bill Morrison in their third year of collaboration on a new work, Montan?a, specific to this unique gathering at Big Sky. This work draws on the history, beauty, and expanse of Montana as inspiration for this extended composition of 24 hours for unaccompanied choir and film. The residency will culminate in several performances of this developing work, details to be announced.

Program Information

Aniara: fragments of time and space
Presented by Finnish National Opera
September 16 - 21, 2019
Almi Hall | Mannerheimintie | Helsinki, Finland
Link: More information and background at

Aniara: fragments of time and space

Performers and Production Team:
The Crossing
Robert Maggio, composer
Dan Henriksson, libretto
Donald Nally, conductor
Matti Raita, actor
Carl Alm, actor
Dan Henriksson and Donald Nally, artistic directors
Antti Silvennoinen, choreographer/dancer
Erika Turunen, costume designer
Joonas Tikkanen, scenic and lighting designer
Paul Vasquez, sound designer

More information and background at

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