Meredith Monk: Composer First
MEREDITH MONK: Well, it’s going to be 3 concerts in 3 different places, so it will be a little bit like an expedition, you know, it will be like my old pieces, where you go to 3 different places, but it will be within a week’s time. So, the first concert is going to be at the Society for Ethical Culture, in that large hall, which is a beautiful hall. Acoustically, it’s gorgeous. So I’m going to do a solo concert there. And right now I’m trying to figure out whether I’m going to do Songs from the Hill complete, or whether I’m going to do a few of theLight Songs and a few of theVolcano Songs, like an a cappella set. There will be an a cappella set the first half. Second half, I’ll be doing piano and voice, some of my own sitting at the piano and playing, and then Nurit Tilles will play the New York Requiem, which I’m not able to play and sing at the same time, and St. Petersburg Waltz, and we’ll probably do a little set where I can also move around a little bit. And then the second concert is at Alice Tully Hall. And right now, I think it’s going to be me singing some Light Songs, maybe a little Facing North, and someone dancing, but I can’t actually say who it will be yet, because we’re still working on it. Like what I did with Merce, of literally singing and whoever’s dancing, you know, we just come together that night and, you know, that’s how it goes…
FRANK J. OTERI: Is it your choreography?
MEREDITH MONK: No. I loved doing those things with Merce, where they were his Events, and he basically said 90 minutes of music and that’s it. And I just showed up and did my 90 minutes of music and they showed up and did the dancing. That was so special, and I really want that represented in this retrospective, because that was really amazing. So that’s kind of what it will be like. A 20 minute set, whoever’s dancing will be dancing, I’ll be singing, that’s it. And then, we’ll do some of the sections from ATLAS, Act 1 and 2, with a chamber orchestra.
FRANK J. OTERI: Not staged.
MEREDITH MONK: Not staged – you know, semi-staged, the way we do in concert where we do a little of the gestural material, but not with costumes: semi-staged. And then intermission. Then we’ll do a little set of some very short a capella pieces from American Archaeology and maybe Quarry because Nigel [Redden] really wanted me to work on some of the old pieces, too, so… and then we’ll do Act 3 from ATLAS, Invisible Light, straight through. And then the last concert, I’m going to sing some of Our Lady of Late, the 1972 solo for voice and wine glass, followed by Turtle Dreams Waltz, and then Dolmen Music. So Dolmen Music will be the last piece of the retrospective.
FRANK J. OTERI: Wow. But none of the stage works are being done.
MEREDITH MONK: Uh unh, but they’re going to do a whole evening of films at the Makor Center. They’re going to do, in 35mm, Book of Days and Ellis Island, and then, the short films will be part of the 3rd and last concert, at LaGuardia High School…
FRANK J. OTERI: My alma mater.
MEREDITH MONK: Using the films in that concert, is like having ginger with sushi: we’ll show these short silent films so we can change costumes between Our Lady of Late and Dolmen Music. The films will be the 5-minute Quarry film of the rocks, and the 7-minute silent version of Ellis Island. So they will also be part of that concert.
FRANK J. OTERI: Terrific. Now the silent films don’t have music.
MEREDITH MONK: That idea, as I said, is the ginger between pieces of sushi. The idea is to wash out your aural tongue, [laughs] your aural palette, and then you can go back to the next thing.
FRANK J. OTERI: Like water in between single malt scotches.
MEREDITH MONK: Exactly. Exactly.
FRANK J. OTERI: Terrific.