Wayne Horvitz Premieres A New Work at ACT Theatre


Award-winning Seattle producer, musician and composer Wayne Horvitz has partnered with ACT – A Contemporary Theatre's Central Heating Lab to present Smokestack Arias. Commissioned through Jack Straw Productions and inspired by the 1916 labor uprising and resultant deaths, now known as the Everett Massacre, Smokestack Arias is a song cycle for soprano voice, piano and electronics. Each song assumes the perspective of a different woman affected by the uprising and the deaths of the slain protesters, giving a personal account of a seminal event in the history of the labor movement in the Pacific Northwest.

Composed by Horvitz with text by Robin Holcomb the performances will take place in collaboration with Cristina Valdes (piano) and Maria Mannisto (soprano). Choreographer and theatre artist Dayna Hanson will be directing the production and assist Mr. Horvitz in creating the overall structure of the piece.

"I have had three fundamental motivations for creating Smokestack Arias." Says Horvitz, "The initial inspiration was my longstanding interest in the history of the American labor movement, especially in the West, as it moved from "pioneer" to "industrialized". Secondly, my ongoing concern - along with many, many other people - of the demise of organized labor since the 1970's, and the increasing centralization of money, otherwise known as power, in the hands of the few at the expense of the many. Finally, working with these collaborators was immensely appealing to me. With the piece being solely from the point of view of female characters, it allows me to collaborate with four of my favorite women artists on the planet, so I confess to a small amount of selfish motivation in that regard. While the piece tells the story of a true event from the perspective of a variety of female characters, they are in fact all fictional. By being fictional this allows Robin Holcomb and I tremendous artistic license, something I always aspire to."
Also please see Mr. Horvitz' essay Joe Hill and the Promise of Arts and Politics on his website.
Mr. Horvitz will be speaking about the piece and its historical significance at a number of venues.

These include:
February 7th, Cornish College of the Arts (Kerry Hall), 1 pm.
Composers Colloquium
1000 Lenora St Seattle, WA 98121

February 8th, Jack Straw Productions, 7:30 pm.
Composer Spotlight with funding by Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau program
4261 Roosevelt Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

Smokestack Arias was commissioned by Jack Straw Productions through Meet The Composer's Commissioning Music/USA program, which is made possible by generous support from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, the Ford Foundation, the Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Helen F. Whitaker Fund.

This project was made possible with additional funding from 4Culture, and the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs.

On November 5, 1916, two boatloads of workers and members of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World, often called "Wobblies") traveled from Seattle to Everett to hold a free speech demonstration in support of striking shingle mill workers in Everett, and in support of First Amendment rights. They were met at the dock by local police, hired guards, and citizen deputies. Shots were fired, fatally wounding or killing outright five "Wobblies" aboard the steamer Verona. Two deputies also died on the pier, apparently shot in the back by their comrades during the fusillade. Seventy-four Wobblies were arrested on their return to Seattle and IWW leader Thomas H. Tracy was charged with murder. All were later released. Tracy was acquitted on May 5, 1917. -Source: historylink.org.

For more on the Everett Massacre visit The UW Everett Massacre Collection and Everett Public Library Everett Massacre Digital Collection.

more about Wayne Horvitz
Wayne Horvitz is a composer, pianist, and electronic musician. He has performed extensively throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America. He has performed and collaborated with Bill Frisell, Butch Morris, John Zorn, Robin Holcomb, Fred Frith, Julian Priester, Philip Wilson, Michael Shrieve, Bobby Previte, Marty Ehrlich, Skerik, William Parker, Ron Miles, Sara Schoenbeck, Peggy Lee, Steven Bernstein, Briggan Krauss, and Dylan van der Schyff among others. He has been commissioned by the NEA, Meet The Composer, Kronos String Quartet, Seattle Chamber Players, Mary Flagler Cary Trust, PGAFF, BAM and others. Collaborators include Paul Taylor, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, Gus Van Sandt and Gordon Edelstein. He has produced CDs for Eddie Palmieri, Fontella Bass, Robin Holcomb and Bill Frisell among others. He is the 2001 recipient of the Seattle Artist Trust Fellowship, 2003 and 2006 recipient of the City of Seattle Office of Arts and Culture fellowship, 2002 recipient of the Rockefeller Map Grant for Joe Hill, 16 Actions for Chamber Orchestra, Voices and Improviser, and the 2008 NEA American Masterpieces grant for These Hills of Glory for string quartet and improviser. Ensembles include The President, Pigpen, Zony Mash, The HMP Trio, The New York Composers Orchestra, The 4 Plus 1 Ensemble, Sweeter Than the Day and The Gravitas Quartet.

Committed to both contemporary and standard repertoire, Cristina Valdes is known for presenting innovative concerts with repertoire ranging from Bach to Xenakis. She has performed across four continents and in multiple venues including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Recital Hall, Merkin Hall, Miller Theatre, Nordstrom Hall and the Kennedy Center. Her passionate interest in new music has led to collaborations with such renowned composers as Terry Riley, Joan Tower, Ezra Laderman, and Morton Subotnick. She has also premiered the works of many other composers including Evan Ziporyn, Orlando Garcia, Wayne Horvitz, and Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez. Festival performances include New Music in Miami, the Foro Internacional de Musica Nueva in Mexico City, the Brisbane Arts Festival, the Festival of Contemporary Music in El Salvador, Theater de Welt in Stuttgart, the Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, and the Singapore Arts Festival among others. An avid chamber musician, Cristina is currently a member of Trio V with ICE percussionists Nathan Davis and David Schotzko. She has toured extensively with the Bang On a Can "All Stars" and has performed with the Seattle Chamber Players, the Mabou Mines Theater Company, the Parsons Dance Company, and the award-winning chamber music group, Antares. She has also performed with the Johns Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, the Binghamton Philharmonic, and the Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra. Cristina can be heard on the Newport Classics, Albany, and Innova labels.

Finnish-American soprano Maria Mannisto has an extensive performing history as an opera singer, concert soloist, pianist, and organist. Maria has appeared in numerous Seattle area productions by Puget Sound Concert Opera, Seattle Experimental Opera, Puget Sound Opera, and the University of Washington, and has performed in new operas and oratorios by Seattle composers Wayne Horvitz, Bill Smith, Garrett Fisher, Brian Cobb, and Tom Baker. In 2007 she was awarded the Finlandia Foundation Performer of the Year, which provided her the opportunity to perform recitals around the United States, Canada, and Finland. Maria was a finalist in the 2010 Kangasniemi Song Competition in Kangasniemi, Finland.

More about Robin Holcomb: http://www.robinholcomb.com/
More about Dayna Hanson: http://daynahanson.com/
more about ACT: A Theatre of New Ideas – Raising Consciousness Through Theatre
Located in the heart of downtown Seattle and serving a population of curious, open-minded and brave audiences, ACT – A Contemporary Theatre is the only theatre in Seattle dedicated to producing contemporary work with promising playwrights and local performing artists since 1965. A theatre of new ideas, ACT serves as a cultural engine that makes plays, dance, music and film that touch us. Because contemporary life demands examination, ACT is driven to inspire and strengthen our diverse community through works that advance out understanding of human life. With more than 100,000 people who attend shows annually, ACT is an interactive community where artists and the public witness, contemplate, and engage in dialogue on today's thought-provoking issues, ideas and art, presented with intelligence, insight, and humor.

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