Culture Connect Featured Event
The M6, an ensemble dedicated to learning and interpreting works of the contemporary American composer, singer, and director-choreographer Meredith Monk, performs at Trinity College’s Austin Arts Center on Friday, February 3 at 7:30 p.m.
The concert features “Tablet” (1976), a composition for three female voices, piano (four hands) and two soprano recorders, and “Dolmen Music” (1979), for six voices, cello, and percussion. The M6 will also perform selections from “Book of Days” (1985), “Facing North” (1990), and “ATLAS” (1991).
The M6 are heard on Meredith Monk’s latest CD, “Songs of Ascension,” released on the ECM label in 2011. They have been featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” and were called “particularly striking” by Alex Ross of The New Yorker.
Monk, 69, was named “Composer of the Year 2012” by Musical America. As a pioneer of “extended vocal technique,” exploring new and broader sounds, tones, and textures of the voice in wordless song, she combines the technical virtuosity of classical music, the poignancy and directness of folk music, the freedom and flexibility of jazz, and the excitement of rock and roll. (Not surprisingly, the adventurous pop singer Björk has covered Monk’s “Gotham Lullaby” from “Dolmen Music,” backed by the Brodsky Quartet.)
For most of Monk’s career she has composed for her own ensemble, but she has received important commissions from the Los Angeles Master Chorale (2010), Kronos Quartet (2004), Michael Tilson Thomas for his New World Symphony in Miami (2003), and The Houston Grand Opera (1991). Her music is featured in the movies “La Nouvelle Vague” by Jean Luc Godard, “The Big Lebowski” by Joel and Ethan Coen, and “True Stories” by David Byrne.
Much of Monk’s music is created and taught in the oral tradition. The six members of The M6 were among 19 singers selected for a professional workshop offered by Monk and The Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall in January 2006, which culminated in a performance. Since then, The M6 have been learning Monk’s repertory from the composer and from past and present members of her ensemble. To preserve her repertory and working methods, they are transcribing and documenting them on video.
The M6 concert is presented by the Austin Arts Center Guest Artist Series and as part of a 25th anniversary celebration of the Trinity/La MaMa Urban Arts Semester in New York City. The M6 are Sasha Bogdanowitsch, Sidney Chen, Emily Eagen, Holly Nadal, Toby Newman, and Peter Sciscioli, with guest cellist Brian Snow. Sciscioli is an alumnus of Trinity/La MaMa (’95) and has been the voice teacher for the program since 2010.