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Conversations with Meredith Monk (Expanded Edition) (Performance Ideas)

Bonnie Marranca


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"Meredith Monk is one of the most important composers alive. I remember hearing her Dolmen Music as a teenager. It most definitely provided me with one of my musical DNAs... As a person she is a fierce spirit, optimistic, spiritual, and soulful." --Bj rk

"If Monk is seeking a place in the classical firmament, classical music has much to learn from her. She conveys a fundamental humanity and humility that is rare in new-music circles." --Alex Ross, The New Yorker

"Meredith Monk has given new voice to the spirit, knit the word together with her universal vision to music, and balanced movement and stillness in ways that illuminate and transform us all. Eternity will never be the same." --Pico Iyer

This expanded edition of Conversations with Meredith Monk offers a fascinating portrait of the internationally renowned composer, performer, director, and filmmaker, from her early years to the present. It has now been updated to include discussion of her latest music-theatre work, Cellular Songs, and a work-in-progress, Indra's Net, in addition to the recent revival of her opera Atlas at the Los Angeles Philharmonic--a work that the New York Times critic called "her masterpiece and one of the defining operatic experiments of the 20th century"--and the showing of the remastered film of Monk's great work Quarry. The five long conversations that comprise the volume part of PAJ's "Performance Ideas" series, generate invaluable insights into artistic process, the human voice, interrelationships of time, space, and music, and the complexity of artistic legacies. What is a "contemporary" work? How does an artwork retain its integrity of form over time? In these deeply engaging conversations, Monk speaks in great detail on her creation of music-theatre works, operas, and films, reflecting on the large-cast theatrical works and the more recent poetically distilled, abstract pieces. In her preface to the new edition, "Performance as a Life Science," Bonnie Marranca writes: "Now, against the background of life in extremis, it is evident that Monk had already acknowledged both the always unknown future and the resilience of human beings. For decades her body of work has been rooting itself in the recurrent themes of spiritual quest (Songs of Ascension), healing (The Politics of Quiet), compassion (mercy), plague (Book of Days), fragility of life (impermanence), cultural identity (Ellis Island), historical trauma (Quarry), ecology (On Behalf of Nature), and community (Cellular Songs)." The volume also includes an eight-page color insert.

PAJ Publications, 9781555541668, 168pp.

Publication Date: January 5, 2021

About the Author

Bonnie Marranca is the author of the essay collections Performance Histories, Ecologies of Theatre, and Theatrewritings. She is the editor of PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art.