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2020-21 Kaufman Music Center Artists-in-Residence

  • <p>Lisa Bielawa</p>
  • <p>Conrad Tao</p>
  • <p>Seth Parker Woods</p>

We are thrilled to announce the 2020-21 Kaufman Music Center Artists-in-Residence!

Composer, producer, vocalist and Rome Prize winner Lisa Bielawa; pianist, composer, Avery Fisher Career Grant winner and Special Music School alumnus Conrad Tao; and the versatile, genre-straddling cellist and educator Seth Parker Woods

Collaborative projects with Kaufman Music Center musicians of all ages include workshopping an opera-in-progress, a new commission for an outdoor performance to encourage voter turnout; online improvisation workshops and masterclasses for cello, piano, voice, composition and recital programming; and a variety of online performances including thrilling presentations in Merkin Hall.

Kaufman Music Center’s Artist-in-Residence program embeds versatile artists who are reimagining music and transforming the field into programs straddling KMC’s thriving education and performance programs. Now in its second year, the program weaves together the many threads of Kaufman Music Center: Artists-in-Residence perform in Merkin Hall and work with students from KMC’s Special Music School, the only K-12 public school in the U.S. that teaches music as a core subject; Face the Music, a teen new music program dedicated to performing cutting-edge music by living composers, including its own members; and Lucy Moses School, NYC’s largest community music school.

2020-21 Artist Residency events will take place both digitally and, when it's safe, in person with social distancing and appropriate safety measures. Decisions about in-person events will be made throughout the season as the COVID-19 situation develops.

Kaufman Music Center Executive Director Kate Sheeran says, “During the program’s first year, we came to appreciate the flexibility and innovation of our Artists-in-Residence more than we ever could have imagined. When the pandemic struck, they and our creative, resilient students were able to quickly pivot to digital projects that resulted in a series of amazing performance videos and the very first album released on the Kaufman Music Center label. As we begin a new season during a challenging time, I am so excited to see what Lisa Bielawa, Conrad Tao, Seth Parker Woods and our students will achieve, and how they will reimagine music together.”


Projects: Lisa Bielawa

“I feel fortunate to be working with the bold and vital Kaufman Music Center community during this time, when forward-thinking and innovative community arts programming is especially needed. We are planning a season of broad participation that reaches beyond the challenges of our current time to bring joyful and thoughtful music-making to audiences and students. Together we will focus our energies on celebrating democracy in action leading up to the election with the Voters’ Broadcast project, and in the Spring, through the new development of my new opera “Centuries in the Hours,” we will explore the alternate history of America through the eyes of women whose vantage point from the domestic sphere resonates so deeply with our current experiences of sheltering in place. I can’t imagine a better place to create this work, and this community, than at KMC!”

KMC will give the world premiere of the live version of Lisa Bielawa’s Voters’ Broadcast, a transformative, innovative work for public spaces designed to spur civic engagement. Using text from Sheryl Oring’s I Wish to Say, Lisa and KMC musicians will perform the piece in late October at several socially-distanced outdoor events. Commissioned as part of the Democracy and Debate theme-semester by the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with support from its School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and developed in partnership with Kaufman Music Center, Voters' Broadcast will also be premiered in sections at three virtual events online in September and October, featuring musicians from both institutions. On November 3, KMC will serve as a polling place for the presidential election.

In the spring, KMC will present work-in-development performances of Lisa's new opera Centuries in the Hours, which illuminates the lives of American women by setting selections from 72 American women’s diaries spanning three centuries, discovered during extensive research as a William Randolph Hearst Visiting Artist Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society in 2018. Through the opera and its libretto by Claire Solomon, dozens of manuscripts rejoin the flow of public discourse. Centuries in the Hours asks: What if these women could be lifted out of their historical contexts and respective life circumstances to encounter one another? What can we learn from these women’s view of American history, seen largely from within the domestic sphere? How does this resonate deeply today, especially in light of people’s current experience of sheltering in place?

Lisa will also give voice masterclasses for SMS and LMS vocal students, and a composition masterclass with SMS High School composers will culminate in spring performances premiering new works by the students setting found text to music.

Projects: Conrad Tao

"I’m so excited to be an artist-in-residence at Kaufman Music Center for this season! I’m looking forward to listening and working and thinking with KMC students about the sociality of music, methods of practice that open up further creative avenues, and the substance of a concert program, among other questions. It is rare to find an educational institution with a structure that so encourages students’ varied interests, and I can’t wait to dig in. In addition to exploring these topics collaboratively with students, I'm grateful to have the chance to present regular performance-talks leading up to a concert presentation in May, in which I'll be sharing materials and thoughts as they evolve over time. I believe in performance being a part of one's ongoing practice, not just the shiny, well-packaged end result of said practice; I hope these regular presentations can be a manifestation of that.”

A series of seven free monthly digital “Performance As Process” events on Thursday evenings from September through April will invite audiences into Conrad Tao’s creative practice as he develops programming for his May 6 Ecstatic Music concert in Merkin Hall. Streamed from his home in Manhattan, these events will give the audience a deeper look into his work in piano, electronics, composition and improvisation as the program for his Merkin Hall debut comes into focus.

During the fall, Conrad will work with Face the Music to explore improvisation and latency as a creative spark in digital collaborations. A masterclass with pianists from SMS and LMS focused on practice and performance will be streamed in December, and additional talks and masterclasses on approaching recital programming and artistic practice in repertoire choices will culminate in a March group performance.

Projects: Seth Parker Woods

“For at least a decade I have been enamored with the valiant creativity that has taken place at the Kaufman Music Center,” says Seth Parker Woods. “The energy the students, faculty and guest artists put into art making, alongside striving for academic success continues to blow my mind. I had the great fortune to witness many of their most recent projects this past season, and I cannot wait to dive in with the students, faculty and creative team across the Center. I’m honored to have been approached by KMC for this post, and we look forward to sharing the fruits of our time together with the world over the course of this season.”

Seth Parker Woods will work with Face the Music, using Mauricio Kagel’s musik theatre work Con Voce as a vehicle to create a new collective work using instruments, facial expressivity and voices. Given our social distancing and the toll the global pandemic has taken on all of us, Seth will seize this opportunity to develop a piece that wraps together humor and theatre of the spectacle.

Seth and SMS students will perform Dick Higgins’s Danger Music #17 in person in KMC’s outdoor playground. Seth will give masterclasses for LMS cellists and SMS High School students focusing on expanding their knowledge of composers and repertoire curation, and coach KMC ensembles leading up to side-by-side chamber music recitals.

On May 9 at Merkin Hall, Seth will perform a program of works for cello, electronics and film by Nathalie Joachim (The Race: 1915), Fredrick Gifford (Difficult Grace), Monty Adkins (Winter Tendrils), Freida Abtan (My Heart Is A River), Ryan Carter (Default Mode Network) and a new reimagining of Pierre Alexandre Tremblay’s asinglewordisnotenough 3 [invariant] with choreographer Roderick George.