City Hall celebrates four female composers this season
City Hall announced details of a concert series highlighting four esteemed female composers who have shaped American culture over the decades: the “mother of contemporary gospel music,” Dr. Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark; legendary singer-songwriter Judy Collins; renowned opera composer Laura Kaminsky; and pioneering songwriter/singer Meredith Monk. Tickets are now on sale at thetownhall.org.
Ms. Araya said, “We are proud to present these concerts in tribute to these women who have contributed so much to society through the originality and emotional depth of their music, and through their commitment to social change.
The series kicks off Saturday, October 15 (7 p.m.) when Meredith Monk returns to City Hall for her third headlining appearance since performing Our Lady of Late 50 years ago on her stage. She will be joined for the New York premiere of MEMORY GAME by her acclaimed Vocal Ensemble, including Theo Bleckmann, Katie Geissinger and Allison Sniffin, as well as her longtime collaborators Bang on a Can All-Stars. As its title suggests, MEMORY GAME is both a look back at a pivotal moment in Monk’s career and a richly layered portrait of how vocal music, under the direction of a tireless master, can play with our expectations in a poignant and compelling way.
MEMORY GAME, released as an album in 2020, features previously unreleased selections from Monk’s sci-fi opera The Games and reworked tracks from classic albums such as Do You Be and Impermanence. The album features arrangements by Monk, Michael Gordon, David Lang, Julia Wolfe, Bang on a Can All-Stars member Ken Thomson, and Vocal Ensemble member Allison Sniffin.
Meredith Monk is a composer, singer and creator of new works in opera and musical theatre. Recognized as one of the most unique and influential artists of our time, she is a pioneer of extended vocal technique. His groundbreaking exploration of the voice as an instrument, as an eloquent language in itself, pushes the boundaries of musical composition, creating soundscapes that unearth feelings, energies and memories for which there is no of words.
Among her many awards, Monk has received three of the highest honors given to a living artist in the United States: induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2019), the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize (2017) and a 2015 National Award. President Barack Obama Medal of Arts. | INFO + TICKETS
Hometown to the World, the new chamber opera by composer Laura Kaminsky and librettist Kimberly Reed, premieres in New York on Saturday, November 5 (8 p.m.). This concert featuring Hometown to the World will be conducted by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Tania León and directed by Kristine McIntyre. Mezzo-sopranos Cecilia Duarte and Blythe Gaissert, and baritone Michael Kelly will be joined by the adventurous ensemble Sybarite 5 and a choir of over 100 public high school students from LaGuardia/Music & Art and Repertory Company High School for Theater Arts , which is located in the Town Hall building.
The opera is set in Postville, Iowa in 2008, following the massive immigration and enforcement agency raid on North America’s largest kosher meat processing plant. Families were destroyed, the meatpacking plant was forced to close, and Postville’s ability to function was decimated. Hometown to the World tells the story of three characters from the community’s major ethnic, religious, and linguistic groups whose worlds collide in the aftermath of the brutal raid. The result is a complex tale that ends with a message of hope and fairness.
Named “one of the 35 best female classical music composers” by the Washington Post, her chamber opera As One is the most produced contemporary opera in North America and has been staged in Europe, South America and Australia. . Hometown to the World will be presented in association with the Santa Fe Opera, as part of one of its first Opera For All Voices commissions. | INFO + TICKETS
On Friday, January 20 (7 p.m.), City Hall celebrates Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, record producer, musician, and evangelist Dr. Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark, making her City Hall debut in a program of his compositions organized in partnership with composer/producer/arranger Damien Sneed, who provides musical direction. In this rare appearance in a secular setting, Clark will play the B3 Hammond organ and perform his own compositions, both solo and with special guests such as his sister Karen Clark Sheard.
Dr. Clark is considered one of the most important female gospel composers, with over 350 compositions to her name. She is the leader of the Clark Sisters, the best-selling female gospel group in history, formed in Detroit in the 1970s by their mother, the late Dr. Mattie Moss Clark. To date, they have recorded 17 albums, rising to fame in the 1980s with their gold record You Brought the Sunshine, as well as Is My Living in Vain – Gospel and R&B chart hits.
In 2020, the story of the Clark Sisters was told in the Lifetime feature film biopic, The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel Music, which was produced by Queen Latifah, Mary K. Blige and Missy Elliott. Her last album The Clark Sisters – The Return was released the same year. The first of the Clark Sisters to launch a solo career, she studied music at Howard University, and had her compositions recorded and sampled by big names in Gospel and secular artists, including Beyonce (on her new album Renaissance) , Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Reverend James Cleveland, Jennifer Holliday, Al Green, James Moore, Aaliyah and Xscape, to name a few. | INFO + TICKETS
Judy Collins, praised for her “pure vibrato-free soprano with angelic church-like ringing” (Stephen Holden, The New York Times), released her debut album in 1961 as a rising star in the world of folk music. , making its concert hall debut at City Hall in 1964. But by the mid-1960s, Collins, who had studied classical piano as a teenager with Antonia Brico (who conducted an all-female orchestra at the de ville in 1935), wanted to make an album that would take its listeners into new and meaningful musical territory. The result – his sixth studio recording – was the magical 1967 album Wildflowers.
On Saturday, February 25 (7 p.m.), Ms. Collins will perform all Wildflowers songs in concert with the Harlem Chamber Players, led by Tania León. With audaciously sensitive orchestral arrangements by Joshua Rifkin, Ms. Collins brought her performing skills to songs by Joni Mitchell, Jacques Brel and Leonard Cohen, who had yet to rise to fame as songwriters, as well a ballad by medieval composer Francesco Landini and three original songs. , Since You Asked, Skyfell and Albatross, which established her as a major pop songwriter. A landmark album in many people’s lives, Wildflowers features her superb rendition of Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now, which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It reached number five on the Billboard Pop Albums charts and remains Collins’ highest charting album to date.
Five decades later, his work of 55 albums remains a source of inspiration for new generations. In 2008, artists such as Rufus Wainwright, Shawn Colvin, Dolly Parton, Joan Baez and Leonard Cohen honored her legacy with the album Born to the Breed: A Tribute to Judy Collins. Tickets for this show will go on sale in September.
Since 1921, when a group of suffragists known as the League for Political Education saw the need for meeting space to educate people on the important issues of the day, City Hall has hosted groundbreaking live events that cemented its reputation as a historic landmark. Designed by renowned architects McKim, Mead & White to reflect the League’s democratic principles, City Hall opened on January 12, 1921. Boxes were eliminated and no seats had an obstructed view giving rise to the phrase “Not a bad seat in the house.” That year, German composer Richard Strauss made his debut in the United States when he gave a series of concerts that cemented his reputation as an ideal venue for musical performances. Since then, City Hall has become world famous for its civic events and for its history of beginnings and inclusiveness. While the 20s and 30s at the Hall were best known for debuts like those of Isaac Stern, Marian Anderson and Pablo Casals, the 40s and 50s were known for classical and jazz concerts. In 1945, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker introduced bebop to the world at City Hall. These years saw the concert hall debuts of Billie Holiday, Glenn Gould, Leontyne Price and Nina Simone, among others. The 1960s saw the concert hall debuts of Bob Dylan, Judy Collins and others from the folk music world as well as the theater debuts of Dick Gregory, Redd Foxx and Nichols and May, among other comics.
From 1935 to 1956, City Hall hosted America’s Town Meeting of the Air, one of radio’s first public affairs talk shows, a program that featured guests, scholars and pundits who discussed important issues of the time. Over its two decades, guests on the program included Eleanor Roosevelt, Langston Hughes, Earl Browder, Senator Joseph McCarthy, Carl Sandburg, Pearl S. Buck, and Mary McLeod Bethune.
Due to the Covid 19 pandemic restriction, City Hall celebrated its centennial with an outdoor concert on September 20, 2021 at New York’s Bryant Park with Grammy-winning musician Chris Thile and special guests Cécile McLorin Salvant and Sullivan Fortner, Zakir Hussain and Ganesh Rajagopalan, Damon Daunno and Timo Andres.