Highly acclaimed composer/singer Meredith Monk has been centre stage at Winnipeg New Music Festival this week.
First was the Canadian premiere of her amazing composition, Weave for two voices, chorus and orchestra on Saturday’s opening night.
That was followed on Sunday with The World of Meredith Monk, where she sang solo and was also joined by members of her Ensemble, performing works that spanned more than four decades of her multifaceted career.
And then Monday’s Song of Ascension at Westminster United Church, featured seven of Monk’s pieces, six of them Canadian premieres, along with performances by local choirs Camerata Nova and Polycoro.
Monk is a giant in the world of new music; she is a MacArthur “Genius” Award winner, National Medal of Arts and Guggenheim Fellowships recipient, Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall, Musical America’s Composer of the Year, Grammy nominated and ECM New Series recording artist.
On Sunday evening at Centennial Concert Hall she performed selected works from her impressive, prolific career, beginning with three solo acapella pieces – selections from Juice (1969), Songs from the Hill (1977) and Light Songs (1988), each offering a slightly different tonal quality.
It was an early glimpse at the composer’s enormous depth as well as her tremendous range of the instrument – her voice.
When she moved onto the piano for some of her early works – Gotham Lullaby (1975) and Travelling (1973), her singing was powerful, as it was for her dramatic and fearful Madwoman’s Vision (1988).
Monk was then accompanied by her Ensemble for the spirited Choosing Companions from ATLAS: an opera in three parts (1991), and two spectacular numbers to conclude her first set: Hips Dance, from Volcano Songs: Duets (1993) and Hockett from Facing North (1990).
An Ensemble that included Allison Sniffin on vocals and piano, singer Katie Geissinger and Bohdan Hilash on winds, performed with Monk throughout the second set, where four of the seven selections were Canadian premieres, including Sacred Song (1986), epilogue and woman at the door from Mercy (2001), clusters 3 from Songs of Ascension (2008), Panda Chant and Memory’s Song from The Games (1984).
Prayer 1, from The Politics of Quiet (1996), masks from Mercy (2001) and between song from impermanence (2004/2006) completed what was a truly brilliant concert by this enormously talented artist, whose depth and originality seemed truly embraced enthusiastically by the Winnipeg audience.
In addition to the photos in this review, Doug Kretchmer shot these videos of Sunday evening’s pre and post-concert activities, including a pre-concert panel, a pre-concert performance by University of Manitoba Percussion Ensemble, and a post-concert talk with Meredith Monk:
Winnipeg New Music Festival 1.29.17 Pre- concert panel – The World of Meredith Monk
Winnipeg New Music Festival 1.29.17- University of Manitoba Percussion Ensemble- Untitled #1
Winnipeg New Music Festival 1.29.17- Post Concert talk with Meredith Monk. Q & A- 1
Winnipeg New Music Festival 1.29.17- Post Concert talk with Meredith Monk. Q & A- 2
Winnipeg New Music Festival 1.29.17- Post Concert talk with Meredith Monk. Q & A- 3
Winnipeg New Music Festival 1.29.17- Post Concert talk with Meredith Monk- Q & A- 4
All photos and videos by Doug Kretchmer