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National Sawdust Opens 2016-17 Season Oct 1 with Artists-in-Residence Sophia Brous and Helga Davis

Now entering its second season of operation, National Sawdust (NS) has already won applause far and wide for its ambitious programming, commitment to incubating new work, and continual examination of both the idea of the arts organization and established forms and practices. On October 1 all of these qualities are on display as NS opens its 2016-17 season with works-in-progress by two new Artists-in-Residence, vocalist/composers Sophia Brous and Helga Davis. To commence the evening, Brous brings her stunning work Lullaby Movement to National Sawdust. The work is a song cycle exploring lullaby ritual from around the world, performed in over 24 languages learned by Brous from migrant and refugee communities from across Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Davis, along with colleagues that include bass-baritone Davóne Tines and Artist-in-Residence dancer and choreographer Reggie “Regg Roc” Gray, presents Requiem for a Tuesday, a ritualistic reflection on death and fear that uses a variety of new commissions, contemporary music, and movement to invite the audience to explore its own relationship to these fundamental human issues. By reimagining traditional form and its boundaries, the entire program opens up the relationship between audience and artist by seeking to embark on a deeper understanding of community and humanity in today’s world.

The Melbourne-and-New York-based vocalist and inter-disciplinary performer Brous’s work Lullaby Movement has evolved over the past year into an “immersive theatre song cycle” from its roots as a work-in-progress for the Sydney Festival 2015.  As artists-in-residence at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center at the beginning of this year, Brous and her key collaborators, internationally celebrated British musicians David Coulter and Leo Abrahams, developed the piece into a full-length song cycle incorporating movement, costume and set design, within a narrative of “a sleepless girl on a pebble beach at the edge of oblivion.”

Hailed as a “revelation” by The Observer and a “prodigious chanteuse” by Rolling Stone, Brous collaborates with major companies and artists internationally, as both a performer and artistic director, with recent engagements at the Barbican, Southbank Centre and the Adelaide Festival of the Arts, and collaborations with artists including David Byrne, Julia Holter, Sean Lennon, the BBC Concert Orchestra and Kimbra. Besides her role as Artist-in-Residence at National Sawdust, Brous is also Artistic Associate of the Arts Centre Melbourne where she created Supersense: Festival of the Ecstatic, and was inaugural Artist-in-Residence at the Red Bull Studios New York with Kimbra for their celebrated large ensemble collective EXO-TECH.

Brous’s Lullaby Movement collaborators are guitarist Leo Abrahams – one of Britain’s most in-demand musicians and producers, working closely with the likes of Brian Eno, Imogen Heap, Marianne Faithfull and Regina Spector – and multi-instrumentalist/musical director David Coulter, one of the world’s foremost musical saw players, who has collaborated with artists including Laurie Anderson, Yoko Ono, Kronos Quartet, Hal Wilner, and is associate music director for Damon Albarn’s Monkey and the Robert Wilson/ Tom Waits opera The Black Rider.

Requiem for a Tuesday is a ceremony administered by singers Helga Davis and bass-baritone Davóne Tines, in which music opens a space for those assembled to confront fear and mortality through the act of seeing each other and reflect on many of societies most pressing current conflicts. The program features new works commissions, including selections from Caroline Shaw’s By and By, performed by Tines, framed by works by Davis, Shara Nova (on a poem by Tines) and Lou Reed. The performance also features the PUBLIQuartet, 2016-17 Quartet-in-Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and eclectic jazz pianist Marc Cary, who came up in the Washington, DC go-go music scene but professes influences from “Indian classical to Malian music to hip-hop.” The choreographic elements of the performance are provided by NS Artist-in-Residence Reggie “Regg Roc” Gray, founder of the FLEXN genre of dance, and The D.R.E.A.M. Ring.

Vocalist Helga Davis is a New York-based interdisciplinary artist and the recipient of the BRIC Media Arts Fireworks grant for her first evening-length theater piece, Cassandra. Hailed for her work in the newest version of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach, she also appeared in Paola Prestini’s Oceanic Verses (which was written for her) and with cellist Maya Beiser in Elsewhere, with music by Missy Mazzoli, among many other notable projects. Wire magazine’s David Keenan described her as “a powerful vocalist with an almost operatic range and all the bruised sensuality of Jeanne Lee.” Her collaborator Davóne Tines – deemed a “singer of immense power and fervor” by the Los Angeles Times – made his Dutch National Opera debut last season starring in the premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Only the Sound Remains, directed by Peter Sellars, and this season performs John Adams’s El Niño with the London Symphony Orchestra under the composer’s baton, both in London and on tour in France.

Other fall highlights at NS include composer portraits of Martin Bresnick and John Zorn; the new series WOMANPRODUCER, which showcases women as creators of sonic worlds, including Pauline Oliveros and Tune-Yards’ Merrill Garbus; and a Winterreise Festival, presenting superstar Dutch vocalist Wende in the U.S. premiere of A Winterreise for the 21st Century. Numerous operatic projects will also be presented in the venue, which the New York Times describes as “ideal for productions that revitalize the art form at a time when it could use some shaking up.” Fall operas range from the world premiere of Janet Palmer’s Sweat, a full-length a cappella opera depicting life in factories around the world, to a pair of projects directed by resident artist R.B. Schlather: the American premiere of Vasco Mendonça’s The House Taken Over, a co-production with the Manhattan School of Music and the Festival dAix en Provence (one of NS’s international partners), and an open workshop of Schlather’s new take on Handel’s Baroque masterpiece Ariodante.

Led by composer Paola Prestini, who serves as Executive and Creative Director, National Sawdust is world-class performance and recording venue, and a premier destination for adventurous music lovers and performers from all genres, even or especially those who defy categorization. With programming “poised at the intersection of pop, jazz and classical, of America and the world,” according to the New York Times, National Sawdust “already feels like an invaluable part of the New York music scene.” The Village Voice agreed: “Nothing quite like it exists in New York City, or anywhere else in the world. … Williamsburg’s bright new diamond National Sawdust will change the way modern music is made.”

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National Sawdust: fall presentations

Oct 1
Opening Night
Davóne Tines, Helga Davis, Sophia Brous and surprise guests

Oct 3
Sxip’s Hour of Charm
Sxip Shirey featuring Basil Twist

Oct 6
Magos Herrera Presents: Grégoire Maret

Oct 7–9
The House Taken Over
Composer Vasco Mendonça and librettist Sam Holcroft
Co-production with Festival d’Aix en Provence and Manhattan School of Music
R.B. Schlather, director
Etienne Siebens, conductor

Oct 14 & 15
Center for Contemporary Opera & National Sawdust
Louis Andriessen Double Bill Chamber Opera

Oct 18, 20 & 25
The Blow

Oct 19
Timo Andres & Yevgeny Kutik

Oct 20
Jeff McErlain Presents A Night of the Delta Blues with CeDell Davis and His Band

Oct 22
John Zorn’s Ultimate Bagatelles Marathon

Oct 26 & 27
Center for Contemporary Opera
Featuring Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, Larissa Koniuk, Shabnam Kalbasi, Eric McKeever, and Patrick McNally
Lidiya Yankovskaya, conductor
Giselle Ty, director

Oct 20
“Solid Jackson”: Singers You Know. Songs You Don’t
Spencer Zahn, bassist & composer
Featuring Chet Faker, Chairlift, Darkside, Elle King, & more

Oct 31
Heartbeat Opera
Benefit Drag Extravaganza

Nov 2
New York Festival of Song

Nov 3
“All Souls in the Dark”
Theo Bleckmann, vocals
Shai Maestro, piano

Nov 4
Young People’s Chorus presents Transient Glory
Mason Bates: Sirens
Michael Gordon: Great Trees of New York City
Joan La Barbara: A Murmuration for Chibok
Jessie Montgomery: Danse Africaine
Robert Xavier Rodriguez: A Surfeit of Similes
Charles Wuorinen: Exsultet

Nov 5
“Birdman” Live Score

Nov 6
Martin Bresnick Festival
BRESNICK: Tent of Miracles for Solo Baritone Saxophone and 3 pre-recorded Baritone Saxophones, Bird as Prophet for violin and piano, Joaquin is Dreaming (Joaquin Soñando) 2008, Prayers Remain Forever, Prophetic Strain, Ishi’s Song, Songs of the Mouse People, and Everything Must Go

Nov 10
The Playthrough Series: Live Video Game Playthrough Performances

Nov 16
“Solid Jackson”: Singers You Know. Songs You Don’t
Spencer Zahn, bassist & composer
Featuring Chet Faker, Chairlift, Darkside, Elle King, & more

Nov 17
The World Music Institute
Meredith Monk & Ani Choying Drolma

Nov 18 & 19
LA In Brooklyn
NS Groups in Residence Beth Morrison Projects & wild Up
Music by Ellen Reid, Ted Hearne, Jodie Landau, and Chris Rountree

Nov 20
Brooklyn Youth Chorus

Dec 3
ECM Records
Son of Goldfinger

Dec 4
Bridging the Gap
Roberto Sirota, curator
Composers from Manhattan School of Music: Richard Danielpour, Paolo
Marchettini, Marjorie Merryman and Rebecca Erin Smith
Pre-concert discussion moderated by Paola Prestini

Dec 7
“Solid Jackson”: Singers You Know. Songs You Don’t
Spencer Zahn, bassist & composer
Featuring Chet Faker, Chairlift, Darkside, Elle King, & more

Dec 10
World Music Institute
Steve Reich Tribute

Dec 14
Winterreise Festival: Wende Sings Winterreise
Gerard Bouwhuis, piano
SCHUBERT: Die Winterreise

Dec 21
HANDEL: Ariodante
R.B. Schlather, director
Geoffrey McDonald, conductor

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© 21C Media Group, September 2016

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