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Codifying Meredith Monk

In discussion with Donald Macleod, composer Meredith Monk talks about the challenges of allowing her music to be written down and published.

Meredith Monk talks about the challenges of allowing her music to be written down and published. Presented by Donald Macleod.

Meredith Monk has been described as one of America's coolest composers. She is also a singer, director, choreographer, filmmaker, and installation artist. Monk's singular voice has been the central component in the work she has created over a trajectory spanning more than fifty years. As a pioneer in extended vocal technique and a composer of vocal and instrumental music, she has developed distinct sound worlds that have been described as "a beguiling repertoire of aviary microtones, robust yodels, and dusky, low-range chanting" and also as "a peerless mixture of otherworldly and human." Her music is identifiable as distinctly Meredith Monk, and has historically provoked strong reactions from audiences and critics alike. Now in her seventies Monk still tours performing her own works, and it was in Cologne where Donald Macleod caught up with her for Composer of the Week, to discuss her remarkable life and unique music.

Meredith Monk's music is unique. A distinctive sound world often using extended vocal techniques from sighs to whoops. Her music is not easy to write down, but in 2000 Monk allowed some of her works to be published. She discusses with Donald Macleod how this is not an easy process, and in one particular work of hers which lasts a couple of minutes only, it took two nearly years to write it down. Another area Monk has been exploring since 2003, is composing more instrumental music starting with an orchestral commission from Michael Tilson Thomas. In more recent years she has received honorary doctorates, been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, named Composer of the Year by Musical America, and in 2015 she was honoured with the award of the National Medal of the Arts from President Obama. Yet for all her success, she says that composing music is still as difficult as it ever was.

Mercy (Shaking)
Theo Bleckmann, voice
Meredith Monk, voice
Katie Geissinger, voice
Ching Gonzalez, voice
Allison Sniffin, piano
John Hollenbeck, percussion

Gotham Lullaby
Bjork, voice

Meredith Monk Arr. Don Byron
Click Song #1
Don Byron, performer

Impermanence (Particular Dance)
Meredith Monk, voice
Theo Bleckmann, voice
Katie Geissinger, voice
Ellen Fisher, voice
Silvie Jensen, voice
Ching Gonzalez, voice
Sasha Bogdanowitsch, voice
Allison Sniffin, piano
John Hollenbeck, percussion
Bohdan Hilash, double ocarina, Balinese flute, zaphoon, punji

Impermanence (Between Song)
Meredith Monk, voice
Katie Geissinger, voice
Allison Sniffin, voice and piano
John Hollenbeck, percussion
Bohdan Hilash, clarinet

Songs of Ascension (Shift)
Todd Reynolds, violin
Courtney Orlando, violin
Nadia Sirota, viola
Ha-Yang Kim, cello
Bohdan Hilash, bass clarinet
John Hollenbeck, percussion

Songs of Ascension (Vow)
Katie Geissinger, voice
Todd Reynolds, violin
Nadia Sirota, viola
Ha-Yang Kim, cello

Songs of Ascension (Burn)
Ellen Fisher, voice
Katie Geissinger, voice
Ching Gonzalez, voice
Meredith Monk, voice
Bruce Rameker, voice
Allison Sniffin, voice
Sasha Bogdanowitsch, voice
Sidney Chen, voice
Emily Eagen, voice
Holly Nadal, voice
Toby Newman, voice
Peter Sciscioli, voice
Todd Reynolds, violin
Courtney Orlando, violin
Nadia Sirota, viola
Ha-Yang Kim, cello
Allison Sniffin, violin
Bohdan Hilash, bass clarinet
John Hollenbeck, percussion

Songs of Ascension (Strand: Inner psalm)
Meredith Monk, voice
Allison Sniffin, voice
Katie Geissinger, voice
Ellen Fisher, voice
Bruce Rameker, voice
Ching Gonzalez, voice
John Hollenbeck, voice
Courtney Orlando, voice
Holly Nadal, voice
Nadia Sirota, voice
Ha-Yang Kim, voice
Peter Sciscioli, voice
Todd Reynolds, violin
Bohdan Hilash, bass clarinet

Light Songs (Click Song #2)
Meredith Monk, voice

On Behalf Of Nature (Water/Sky Rant)
Meredith Monk, voice
Bohdan Hilash, Eb clarinet, Macauan bird calls, Burmese whistles, seljefløyte
John Hollenbeck, prepared vibraphone, cuica
Allison Sniffin, keyboard, French horn, voice
Laura Sherman, harp

Producer Luke Whitlock.

1 hour

Last on

Fri 4 Nov 2016 18:30

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Music Played

  • Theo Bleckmann, Meredith Monk, Katie Geissinger, Ching Gonzalez, Allison Sniffin & John Hollenbeck

    Shaking

    • Mercy.
    • ECM RECORDS.
    • 1829.
    • 11.
  • Meredith Monk

    Gotham Lullaby

    Singer: Meredith Monk. Singer: Björk. Ensemble: Brodsky String Quartet.
    • Monk Mix.
    • The House Foundation for the Arts.
    • 1.
  • Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble

    Impermanence - Particular dance

    Performer: Allison Sniffin. Performer: John Hollenbeck. Performer: Bohdan Hilash. Singer: Meredith Monk.
    • ECM:20264766391.
    • ECM.
    • 6.
  • Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble

    Impermanence - Between song

    Performer: Allison Sniffin. Performer: John Hollenbeck. Performer: Bohdan Hilash. Singer: Meredith Monk.
    • ECM:20264766391.
    • ECM.
    • 6.
  • Meredith Monk

    Songs of ascension -shift

    Performer: Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble. Performer: Courtney Orlando. Performer: Nadia Sirota. Performer: Ha-Yang Kim. Performer: Allison Sniffin. Performer: Bohdan Hilash. Performer: John Hollenbeck.
    • ECM : 2154.
    • ECM.
    • 11.
  • Meredith Monk

    Songs of ascension -vow

    Performer: Todd Reynolds. Performer: Nadia Sirota. Performer: Ha-Yang Kim. Singer: Katie Geissinger.
    • ECM : 2154.
    • ECM.
    • 9.
  • Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble, Courtney Orlando, Nadia Sirota, Ha-Yang Kim, Allison Sniffin, Bohdan Hilash & John Hollenbeck

    Songs of ascension -Burn

    • ECM : 2154.
    • ECM.
    • 11.
  • Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble, Todd Reynolds & Bohdan Hilash

    Songs of ascension - Strand: inner psalm

    • ECM : 2154.
    • ECM.
    • 12.
  • Meredith Monk

    Light songs - Click Song 2

    Singer: Meredith Monk.
    • Mercy.
    • ECM New Series.
    • 472 468-2.
    • 14.
  • Meredith Monk

    Water/Sky Rant

    Performer: John Hollenbeck. Performer: Allison Sniffen. Performer: laura Sherman. Singer: Meredith Monk.
    • On Behalf of Nature.
    • ECM RECORDS.
    • 002580802.
    • 11.

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