Brown Arts

Tanya Tagaq and Special Guests: In Concert

March 14, 2024
An evening of innovative, genre-bending music by improvisational singer/avant-garde composer Tanya Tagaq in concert with featured collaborators.

Featuring Paola Prestini, Jeffrey Zeigler, Christine Duncan, and Jean Martin; with Nancy Mike, Varna Marianne Nielsen, Cynthia Pitsiulak, Charlotte Qamaniq, and Boston Modern Orchestra Project

Thursday, March 14, 2024, 7:00pm
Main Hall, The Lindemann Performing Arts Center
Join us for a post-concert conversation with the artists followed by a reception

(Special Note: Free copies of Tanya Tagaq's acclaimed novel Split Tooth will be available for all attendees. Join us for a book signing with the author on Friday, March 15, 4pm-5pm, in the Nelson Atwater Lobby of The Lindemann Performing Arts Center.)

*Ticket proceeds from Brown Arts Institute programming support artistic productions created by the various artistic communities on Brown’s campus and in Providence.

About the Concert

The first of two evenings of innovative, genre-bending music by improvisational singer, avant-garde composer and bestselling author Tanya Tagaq (Ikaluktutiak, Cambridge Bay, Nunavut). A member of the Order of Canada, Polaris Music Prize and JUNO Award winner, Tagaq curates a special program of compositions performed by and with a number of long-time collaborators including Christine Duncan (improvisational singer and conductor), Jean Martin (drummer and electronic artist), Paola Prestini (classical music composer), and Jeffrey Zeigler (cello). For portions of the evening, Tagaq is accompanied by a groundbreaking Inuit throat singing choir featuring Nancy Mike, Varna Marianne Nielsen, Cynthia Pitsiulak, and Charlotte Qamaniq. Gil Rose conducts the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, with second conductor Christine Duncan.

Content Reflection
Tagaq innovates upon traditional and experimental vocal forms, combining growls, breathy moans, and ghostly chants with elements of spoken word, punk, industrial, metal and electronica. Her performances are visceral and elemental and as Tagaq has said from the stage "you don't have seat belts, but buckle them in your head."

About the Artists

Headshot of Tanya Tagaq
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Tanya Tagaq

From Ikaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay, Nunavut), internationally-celebrated artist Tanya Tagaq is an improvisational singer, avant-garde composer and bestselling author. A member of the Order of Canada, Polaris Music Prize and JUNO Award winner and recipient of multiple honorary doctorates, Tagaq is an original disruptor, a world-changing figure at the forefront of seismic social, political, and environmental change.

Headshot of Paola Prestini
Photo Credit: Caroline Tompkins
Paola Prestini

Composer, Co-Founder & Artistic Director of National Sawdust and VisionIntoArt

Composer Paola Prestini has collaborated with poets, filmmakers, and scientists in large-scale multimedia works that chart her interest in themes ranging from the cosmos to the environment. She has created, written and produced projects such as the world's largest and first communal VR opera, The Hubble Cantata, and the eco-documentary The Colorado. Her opera Sensorium Ex  is a multi-sensory narrative woven together at the intersections of disability and artificial intelligence - bridging her love of collaboration with system building. Her work has been performed by the New York Philharmonic, Minnesota Opera, Los Angeles Opera, San Diego Opera, Bellas Artes, and at the Festival Dei Due Mondi in Italy. She has been a resident at MASS MoCA, the Park Avenue Armory, the American Academy in Rome, and at Sundance. Prestini is a Co-Founder of VisionIntoArt, a non-profit new music and interdisciplinary arts production company in New York City and is the Co-Founder/Artistic Director of the non-profit music organization and Brooklyn-based venue, National Sawdust.

Headshot of Jeffrey Zeigler
Photo Credit: Axeld Dupeux
Jeffrey Zeigler

Jeffrey Zeigler is one of the most innovative and versatile cellists of our time. Strings Magazine says Zeigler is “widely known for pushing boundaries and breaking conventions”. The New York Times has described Zeigler as “fiery”, and a player who performs “with unforced simplicity and beauty of tone”. Acclaimed for his independent streak, Zeigler has commissioned dozens of works and is admired as a potent collaborator and unique improviser. As a member of the internationally renowned Kronos Quartet from 2005-2013, he is the recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize, the Polar Music Prize, the President’s Merit Award from the National Academy of Recorded Arts (Grammy’s), the Chamber Music America National Service Award and The Asia Society's Cultural Achievement Award.

Following his tenure with Kronos, his multifaceted career has led to collaborations with a wide array of artists and innovators such as Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, Hauschka, Vijay Iyer, Robin Coste Lewis, Yo-Yo Ma, Julie Mehretu, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Carl Hancock Rux, Foday Musa Suso, and Tanya Tagaq. He has also performed as a soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Toronto Symphony, the Royal Danish Radio Symphony, the New Century Chamber Orchestra, and the Ulster Orchestra under the batons of Peter Oundjian, JoAnn Falletta, Dennis Russell Davies, and Dmitry Sitkovetsky.

His most recent solo album, Houses of Zodiac, is his first full collaboration with his wife, trailblazing composer Paola Prestini. It is a multimedia experience that combines spoken word, movement, music, and imagery into a unified exploration of love, loss, trauma, and healing.

This season’s highlights include being featured in a new cello opera entitled The Old Man and the Sea directed by Karmina Silec with music by Paola Prestini and libretto by Royce Vavrek. The world premiere will take place at Arizona State University and then go on to the University of North Carolina, New York and Los Angeles.

Alongside Paola Prestini, Zeigler is the Co-Artistic Director of VisionIntoArt, a non-profit new music & interdisciplinary arts production company based in New York. He is the Director of the National Sawdust Ensemble of National Sawdust, an artist-led, multidisciplinary new music venue in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where he sits on the Advisory Board. Additionally, he is a member of the Board of Directors of Chamber Music America and CelloBello and is on the Honorary Committee of the Sphinx Organization.

Zeigler was recently appointed Assistant Professor of Chamber Music and Innovation at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.

Headshot of Christine Duncan
Courtesy of the artist
Christine Duncan

Christine Duncan is a Canadian vocalist, thereminist and conductor, specializing in improvisation and improvising ensembles. She is a professor in the jazz programs at the University of Toronto and Humber College in Toronto, Canada.

Headshot of Jean Martin
Courtesy of the artist
Jean Martin

Jean Martin is a drummer, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and a key member of the field of creative music in Canada. Jean is based in Toronto but his network of collaborators extends throughout Canada and internationally. As a performer, some of his principal associations are with Christine Duncan Barnyard Drama, The Element Choir, Jesse Zubot,Tanya Tagaq, John Southworth, ZMF Trio, Bernard Falaise, and Justin Haynes. He has performed and recorded with notable artists: David Murray, Evan Parker, William Parker, Veryan Weston, Phil Minton, Craig Tayborn to name a few.

During the 1990s, he played in two legendary Canadian jazz groups: Chelsea Bridge and D.D. Jackson's Trio. He was nominated in 2004 as 'Best Drummer' at the National Jazz Awards and received the 2004 Freddy Stone Award for excellence in contemporary music in Canada.

As a producer, Jean is best known as the Artistic Director of Barnyard Records, one of the most vital labels for contemporary music in North America. Barnyard's 40-plus title catalogue features international figures like Anthony Braxton, Evan Parker, and William Parker, but is dedicated primarily to Canada's diverse field of creative musicians and reflects both the eclecticism and excellence of its best artists, along with Jean's deft touch as a producer and recording engineer. In addition to his work with Barnyard, Jean has produced and/or engineered over 100 other recording projects in countless musical styles.

Headshot of Nancy Mike
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Nancy Mike

Nancy Mike is a throat singer, accordion player, visual artist and author originally from Pangnirtung, Nunavut. She is a mother of four beautiful children; a nurse; former member of the Iqaluit-based band, The Jerry Cans. Nancy has performed many of her songs in Inuktitut and is passionate about preserving her Inuktut language. Nancy is committed to representing Inuit and to challenging common misperceptions she encounters about life in the Arctic in all of her artistic projects.

Headshot of Varna Marianne Nielsen
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Varna Marianne Nielsen

Varna Marianne Nielsen is a multi artist from Greenland, her focus is to compose music, in a fusion of electronic music, sounds of nature and improvised Greenlandic drum-singing. For 25 years, she has been engaged in performances as a singer-songwriter, vocalist and her Indigenous heritage. She has gained experience as an actress. Her interest in research within her ancestors' practice, has led her into filmmaking, which she is directing and composing music for.

Headshot of Cynthia Pitsiulak
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Cynthia Pitsiulak

Cynthia Pitsiulak, a twice Juno nominee currently lives in Iqaluit, Nunavut. Pitsiulak is a multidisciplinary artist, specializing in throat singing, painting, acting, television and radio production. Originally from Kimmirut, Nunavut, Pitsiulak has traveled and performed around the world sharing her artistic talents. She is best known for her work with her duo Silla, and former trio Silla and Rise.

Headshot of Charlotte Qamaniq
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Charlotte Angugaattiaq Qamaniq

Charlotte Angugaattiaq Qamaniq is a North Baffin Inuk performance artist, actor, and contemporary and traditional throat singer hailing from Iglulik, Nunavut. She is best known for her work in the throat singing duo Silla, in twice Juno nominated band Silla and Rise, and Juno nominated Iva and Angu.

Headshot of Gil Rose
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Gil Rose

Gil Rose is one of today’s most trailblazing conductors, praised as “amazingly versatile” (The Boston Globe) with “a sense of style and sophistication” (Opera News). Equally at home performing core repertoire, new music, and lesser-known historic symphonic and operatic works, “Gil Rose is not just a fine conductor, but a peerless curator, sniffing out—and commissioning—off-trend, unheralded, and otherwise underplayed repertoire that nevertheless holds to unfailingly high standards of quality. In doing so, he’s built an indefinable, but unmistakable, personal aesthetic” (WXQR).

A global leader in American contemporary music, Rose is the founder of the performing and recording ensemble the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), who “bring an endlessly curious and almost archaeological mind to programming… with each concert, each recording, an essential step in a better direction” (The New York Times), as well as the founder of Odyssey Opera, praised by The New York Times as “bold and intriguing” and “one of the East Coast’s most interesting opera companies.”

Since its founding in 1996, the “unique and invaluable” (The New York Times) BMOP has grown to become the premier orchestra in the world for commissioning, recording, and performing music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Under Rose’s leadership, BMOP has won seventeen ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, been selected as Musical America’s Ensemble of the Year in 2016, and in 2021was awarded a Gramophone Magazine Special Achievement Award in recognition of its extraordinary service to American music of the modern era. Under Rose’s baton, BMOP has been featured at numerous festivals including the Festival of New American Music (Sacramento, CA), Concerts at the Library of Congress (Washington, DC), and the MATA Festival in New York. This past fall Gil was named the Director of Opera and Sonic Exploration at Artpark in Lewiston NY. His tenure there was launched with a performance of a staged version of Carmina Burana.

In 2013, Gil Rose expanded his musical vision with the founding of Odyssey Opera, a company dedicated to eclectic and underperformed operatic repertoire from all eras. Working with an international roster of singers and directors, Odyssey has presented more than 35 operas in Boston, with innovative, thematically linked seasons. The company has also established itself as a leader of modern opera in the United States, having given three world premieres and numerous U.S. premieres.

Boston Modern Orchestra
Courtesy of the Orchestra
Boston Modern Orchestra Project

A unique institution of crucial artistic importance to today’s musical world, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) is the premier orchestra in the United States dedicated exclusively to commissioning, performing, and recording music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Founded by Artistic Director Gil Rose in 1996, BMOP has championed composers whose careers span nine decades.  

BMOP’s history includes more than 180 performances and over 150 world premieres, including 75 commissioned works, in concerts of unrivaled eclecticism and ambition. Musical America’s 2016 Ensemble of the Year, BMOP was awarded the 2021 Special Achievement Award from Gramophone magazine as “an organization that has championed American music of the 20th and 21st century with passion and panache.”  

BMOP/sound, BMOP’s independent record label, was created in 2008 to provide a platform for BMOP’s extensive archive of music, as well as to provide widespread, top-quality, permanent access to both classics of the 20th century and the music of today’s most innovative composers. BMOP/sound has garnered praise from the national and international press and is the recipient of nine Grammy Award nominations. BMOP won the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording for Tobias Picker’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. Its releases have appeared on the year-end “Best of” lists of The New York Times, The Boston Globe, National Public Radio, Time Out New York, American Record Guide, Downbeat Magazine, WBUR, NewMusicBox, and others. 

Highlights of BMOP’s extended quarter-century season celebration, which kicked off in February 2022, included a free concert of organ masterworks at Boston’s Symphony Hall, the orchestra’s debut at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium, and the inauguration of As Told By, a multi-year performance and recording initiative dedicated to elevating Black creativity in opera.



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Brown Arts’ IGNITE Series uplifts the spirit of artistic collaboration across Brown, Providence, the Rhode Island region, and beyond. Ignite your creative curiosity through this multi-year series of programs, activations, interventions, and investigations.