Where the Body Starts Singing

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Once in a blue moon, a forward thinking artist comes along and uses musical experimentation so organically, that it obliterates the politics which separate the mainstream from the avant-garde. 

Composer Meredith Monk is best known for the vocal techniques that she developed as a solo performer before starting her Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble. In the 1960s, Monk worked at cross-pollinating dance, performance and music, which eventually manifested itself into an interdisciplinary art troup called The House.

The trajectory of her work has been echoed by some of the most celebrated musicians in disparate music worlds. In 2005, a concert at Carnegie Hall honoring 40 years of her artistic reach featured Björk, Terry Riley, DJ Spooky, and the Pacific Mozart Ensemble.

Though her music needs no explanation, she explains her intent in Meredith Monk (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), a collection of her writings and interviews: "I work in between the cracks, where the voice starts dancing, where the body starts singing, where theater becomes cinema."

This week, we hear Nightfall, a piece written for 16 voices, performed by Musica Sacra.

Also, the music of Franz Schubert, Charles Mingus, and Erik Satie.


Poor Pilgrim of Sorrow
J. Robert Bradley

Gymnopedie No. 1
Erik Satie
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Deutsche Grammophon

Ballade, op. 6
Amy Beach
Kirsten Johnson, piano

Blues in B flat
Hazel Scott
Hazel Scott, piano
Classics Records

Das Wohltemperierte Clavier, Book One: Prelude and Fugue no 5 in D major, BWV 8
Johann Sebastian Bach
Andrei Vieru, piano

3 x 3, no. 1
Giancarlo Vulcano
Giancarlo Vulcano, guitar
Yvonne Troxler, piano
Romulo Benavides, violin
Enid Blout, clarinet

Double Bass Concerto in D
Edgar Meyer
Edgar Meyer, double bass
Hugh Wolff, conductor
St. Paul Chamber Orchestra

Gesange des Harfners
Franz Schubert
Thomas Quasthoff, bass-baritone
Charles Spencer, piano

Three Waltzes
Lou Harrison
Michael Boriskin, piano

I can't get started
Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus, piano

Black Bottom, H. 165
Bohuslav Martinu
Giorgio Koukl, piano

Quartet for Double Basses
Gunther Schuller
Robert Oppelt, double bass
Richard Barber, double bass
Jeffrey Weisner, double bass
Ali Yazdanfar, double bass

Night Time
Sebastian Currier
Marie-Pierre Langlamet, harp
Jean-Claude Velin, violin

Three Nocturnes, Op. 16
Nikolay Medtner
Laurence Kayaleh, violin
Paul Stewart, piano

Meredith Monk
Musica Sacra
Richard Westenburg, conductor


Comments [7]

RJ from rj

Listening once again to your wonderful programme last night; I also have listened/watched performances and when they are over, just want to sit, mesmerised, in the aura they seem to have cast. Sometimes it is as if something intangible has saturated the very air in which you sit, it echoes silently, and you sit there and try to absorb through every pore the atmosphere and the beauty. Applause only disturbs this and breaks this wonderful feeling. Who always wants to be brought back to earth? Silence is sometimes the best compliment and appreciation.

Jan. 23 2011 10:32 AM

Re: Gregory Ford's comment-

Music From the Hearts of Space (HOS) was long a mainstay of the WNYC music programming.

It was absolutely short sightedness which had this program removed from the weekly schedule.

With the modular construction of the programming at WQXR and at Q2, HOS should definitely be brought back for the New York City Metropolitan Area listening audience.

Jan. 23 2011 10:11 AM
Gregory Ford

A comment is required? OK. I listen to Music from the Hearts of Space, Snap Judgment, On Being and The Splendid Table. All Ears will now join that lineup. I hope I still have time for work. The United States of America is one of the greatest social experiments in the history of humankind. Your program is one of its tastiest fruits.

Jan. 22 2011 11:15 PM
Danica Phelps

I have been listening to your programs since the beginning on wnyc 3 years ago.
You were the voice of my pregnancy!
Everytime I hear your voice I think about that period of my life, working in my art studio every night and especially of taking an hour out every evening to practice yoga, hearing your program. I remember all the trouble you got from listeners about your incredible mix of music. I loved it and am VERY glad that you still have a program with this kind of focus. I wish you still had the whole evening during the week for these juxtapositions (with your wonderful compatriot David Garland), though I also enjoy your other programs. Now, whenever I practice yoga, I am also voluneering to be a human jungle gym as my two year old climbs all over me. So, those months of pregnancy yoga were my last independant months before being joined by the best friend I could ever imagine having.

Jan. 22 2011 10:16 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane

ALL music formats deserve exploration, especially if they are contemporary. As my acting teacher Lee Strasberg put it, "to maximize your potential you must 'stretch,' going beyond the comfortable norm of your previous ventures." On Saturday March 19th, i will perform a three hour solo concert, "Love as expressed in all the vocal music formats" at the New Life Expo at the New Yorker Hotel at 34th Street and 8th Avenue, from 6 pm to 9 pm at the Wall Street venue. Formats included in the concert are opera, operetta, Broadway musicals, "pop," folk and western songs, jazz, Tin Pan Alley, sacred literature, blues, and lieder.
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Wagnerian heldentenor, opera composer: "Shakespeare" & "The Political Shakespeare" & director, the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute.
Website: WagnerOpera.com where one may download, free, 37 complete "Live from Carnegie Hall" selections that I have sung in four concerts, three of them three hours-long solo concerts and one a Joint Recital with the dramatic soprano Norma Jean Erdmann, in the main hall of Carnegie Hall, the Isaac Stern Auditorium, by opening up, downloading, from the "Recorded Selections" venue on the home page.

Jan. 22 2011 08:30 PM

Mr. Meltzer - thank you for your rigorous participation on our many blog topics. Strange eh? "All Ears" is a conversation about music in which a list that covered a wider range of musical idioms and dialects would certainly be more in keeping.
Thank you for listening.

Jan. 22 2011 01:30 PM
Michael Meltzer

Mr. McKnight:
Your Saturday night program is about the most eclectic of the WQXR programs, other than a couple of NPR imports like "From the Top." It's always interesting, and sounds like it reflects a lot of time and research on your part.
That's why it's strange to see you involved in a "top ten" blog on an adjacent site. the end result of "top ten" inquiry is exactly the opposite of what you're accomplishing here, it narrows the playing field and trims the choices. "Top ten" taken to excess is dangerous, and it's now being taken to excess.

Jan. 22 2011 06:53 AM

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