& Bang on a Can All-Stars
There’s the voice in the sense of an instrument and the voice in the sense of a personal perspective. But in the case of Meredith Monk, who has remade both senses in her long career, the difference melts away.
Monk is a singer, composer, dancer, choreographer, filmmaker, and stage artist whose limitless vocal innovation has served to amplify a vast and holistic vision of nature, humanity, memory, and time. She has spent the past decade pulling the past through the keyhole of the present, conjuring fresh new music and theater from her deep archive. In 2012, she restaged her classic 1972 solo from Education of the Girlchild, in which she portrays a woman aging in reverse, as if meeting herself on the other side of time’s long looking glass. The same year brought On Behalf of Nature, an evening-length work built around fragments from old notebooks, which ECM released as an album in 2016.
Last year, Cantaloupe Music issued Memory Game, which features unrecorded selections from Monk’s sci-fi opera, The Games, and reworked pieces from classic albums such as Do You Be and impermanence. The new arrangements by longtime collaborators Bang on a Can All-Stars—including some by the peerless composer-performer collective’s founding triumvirate, Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe, and Pulitzer-winner David Lang—were hailed by The Guardian for their “compelling authority.” Also present is Monk’s elite Vocal Ensemble, formed in the minimalist ferment of 1970s New York and now home to stars in their own right such as Theo Bleckmann.
Returning to Big Ears after a performance of Cellular Songs in 2019, Monk gives the live premiere of Memory Game, continuing to capture ground on the most benevolent frontier of the avant-garde.