Brown Arts

Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble | Cellular Songs: Concert Version

March 2, 2024
Meredith Monk presents a concert of music from her interdisciplinary performance work.

An IGNITE Series Campus Project

Curated by the Department of Music and Timo Volbrecht (Lecturer and Director of Jazz Studies, Music)

The Lindemann Performing Arts Center

Saturday, March 2, 2024
7:00pm Performance (no intermission)
8:30pm-9:30pm Moderated Talk and Q&A

Recommended for ages 6 and up


As [Monk] sang, there was a palpable sense of love and joy between her and the audience that spoke volumes. An antidote to the troubled times we live in.

Virginia Webb, The Financial Times

About the Concert

Recognized as one of the most unique and influential artists of our time, composer/performer Meredith Monk presents a concert of music from her interdisciplinary performance work, Cellular Songs, with the women of her acclaimed Vocal Ensemble. A “deeply affecting meditation on the nature of the biological cell as a metaphor for human society” (Financial Times), Cellular Songs features some of Monk’s most adventurous and daring music for the voice to date, paired with violin, piano and keyboard. Over the course of the evening, shimmering, multi-dimensional musical forms evoke such biological processes as layering, replication, division, and mutation. Cellular Songs is the second part of a trilogy of music-theater works exploring our interdependent relationship with nature, following the highly acclaimed On Behalf of Nature (2013) and the recently premiered Indra’s Net (2023).


Meredith Monk, Voice and Keyboard

Ellen Fisher, Voice

Katie Geissinger, Voice

Allison Sniffin, Voice, Violin and Keyboard

Joanna Lynn-Jacobs, Voice

About the Artist

Meredith Monk
Photo by Christine Alicino

MEREDITH MONK is a composer, singer, director/choreographer, filmmaker, and creator of new opera, music-theater works, films and installations. Recognized as one of the most unique and influential artists of our time, she is a pioneer in what is now called “extended vocal technique” and “interdisciplinary performance.” Celebrated internationally, Monk’s work has been presented at major venues throughout the world. In conjunction with her 50th Season of creating and performing, she was appointed the 2014-15 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall. Recently Monk received three of the highest honors bestowed to a living artist in the United States: induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2019), the 2017 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize and a 2015 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama.

In 1968 Ms. Monk founded The House, a company dedicated to an interdisciplinary approach to performance. As a pioneer in site-specific work, she has created such works as Juice: a theatre cantata in three installments (1969) and Ascension Variations (2009) for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, American Archeology: Roosevelt Island (1994), and Songs of Ascension (2008) for visual artist Ann Hamilton’s tower. Monk’s award-winning films, including Ellis Island (1981) and her first feature, Book of Days (1988), have screened at numerous film festivals and on PBS. The film of her seminal work, Quarry: an opera in three movements (1976), was restored and made available for streaming in 2019. Her films, installations and drawings have been shown in museums and galleries including Exit Art, Frederieke Taylor Gallery, in two Whitney Biennials, and at the Walker Art Center. Her short films and several of her drawings are also included in the collection at MoMA.

In 1965, Monk began her innovative exploration of the voice as a multifaceted instrument, composing solo pieces for unaccompanied voice and voice and keyboard. In 1978, she founded Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble to expand her musical textures and forms. Monk has recorded with the ECM New Series label since 1981, and was recently honored with a 13-disc box set of her work, Meredith Monk: The Recordings, in celebration of her 80th birthday, which includes the 2008 GRAMMY-nominated impermanence. Selected scores of her work are available through Boosey & Hawkes. In addition to her numerous vocal pieces, music-theater works and operas, Monk has created vital new repertoire for orchestra, chamber ensembles, and solo instruments, with commissions from Carnegie Hall, Michael Tilson Thomas/San Francisco Symphony and New World Symphony, Kronos Quartet, Saint Louis Symphony and Los Angeles Master Chorale, among others. In 2019 a new production of her work, ATLAS: an opera in three parts (1991), was directed by Yuval Sharon and presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Her music can also be heard in films by such directors as Terrence Malick, Jean-Luc Godard, David Byrne, and the Coen Brothers.

Since graduating Sarah Lawrence College in 1964, Monk has received numerous honors including the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, two Guggenheim Fellowships, three “Obies” (including an award for Sustained Achievement), and two “Bessie” awards for Sustained Creative Achievement. More recently Monk was named one of National Public Radio’s 50 Great Voices, the 2012 Composer of the Year by Musical America, and an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by the Republic of France. She also received the 2020 John Cage Award, 2012 Doris Duke Artist Award, 2011 Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award for the Arts, and an inaugural USA Prudential Fellow award in 2006. Monk holds honorary Doctor of Arts degrees from Bard College, Boston Conservatory, Concordia University, Cornish College of the Arts, The Juilliard School, Lafayette College, Mount Holyoke College, San Francisco Art Institute, University of the Arts, and University of Hartford.

Among the many highlights of Monk’s performances from the last twenty-five years is her Vocal Offering for His Holiness the Dalai Lama as part of the World Festival of Sacred Music in Los Angeles in October, 1999. Several marathon performances of her work have taken place in New York at the World Financial Center (1991), Lincoln Center Music Festival (2000), Carnegie’s Zankel Hall (2005 and 2015), Symphony Space (2008) and the Whitney Museum (2009). In February 2012, MONK MIX, a cd of remixes and interpretations featuring 25 artists from the jazz, pop, dj and new music worlds was released. She is also the subject of two books of interviews, Conversations with Meredith Monk (now in a new expanded edition), by arts critic and Performing Arts Journal editor Bonnie Marranca, and Une voix mystique, by French author Jean-Louis Tallon, released in a new edition in January 2022. In June 2023, Monk premiered her newest work, Indra’s Net, at the Holland Festival, the third part of a trilogy of music-theater works exploring our interdependent relationship with nature following the highly acclaimed On Behalf of Nature (2013) and Cellular Songs (2018). In fall 2023, the first extensive European exhibition about Meredith Monk opened as a collaboration in two acts at Oude Kerk Amsterdam and Haus der Kunst München, together with the Hartwig Art Foundation.

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Sponsored in part by The Sara and Robert A. Reichley Concert Fund.


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