Maya Beiser’s All Vows Explores the Border Between the Sacred and Profane
New York Premiere at BAM
Maya Beiser, cello | Films by Bill Morrison
Zachary Alford, drums | Jherek Bischoff, bass
Maya Beiser Online: www.mayabeiser.com
Read the Boston Globe review: http://bit.ly/BostonGlobeMaya
“If rock ‘n’ roll is a spiritual practice – and who’s to say it isn’t? – then the ferociously adventurous cellist Maya Beiser has set herself up as an officiant. ‘All Vows,’ the engrossing solo program she presented over the weekend . . . had all the earmarks of a revival meeting, by turns contemplative and ecstatic. . . whatever Beiser turns her attention to has the potential to come vividly to life.”
– The San Francisco Chronicle
New York, NY — Cellist Maya Beiser brings her new production All Vows to BAM for its New York premiere in four performances, from October 14 through October 17, 2015 at 7:30pm (BAM Fisher, Fishman Space, 321 Ashland Place), with drummer Zachary Alford and bassist Jherek Bischoff. All Vows explores the dichotomy between the external world and our inner landscape – the border between the sacred and the profane. It features Michael Gordon’s All Vows, Glenn Kotche’s Three Parts Wisdom, David T. Little’s Hellhound, and the New York premiere of Mohammed Fairouz’s Kol Nidrei, plus Michael Harrison’s Just Ancient Loops with film by Bill Morrison and re-imagined classic rock from Maya’s latest best-selling album Uncovered.
All Vows — in Aramaic “Kol Nidrei” — is the opening prayer of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement in Jewish tradition. Maya, who grew up in a progressive Kibbutz in the Galilee mountain of Israel, often talks about the impact of her multi-cultural upbringing — surrounded by the music and rituals of Jews, Muslims, and Christians, while studying Western classical cello repertoire.
About her inspiration for All Vows, Maya says: “A humble, intensely personal lament, Kol Nidrei is a prayer about human imperfection, about stumbling and making mistakes. The words of the prayer are meant for no one other than the person who utters them, but the melody of the prayer is aimed at everyone — the words divide, and the music unites. My show All Vows is an exploration of that idea; language, words, actions, can bridge or separate us — music, any music, is purely spiritual, as it has no obstacle in entering the soul.”
The first half of All Vows begins with a set of “uncovers,” crafted by Beiser with arrangements by composer Evan Ziporyn. Re-contextualizing classic rock through the lens of her cello, Maya goes deep inside music by Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Janis Joplin, and Howlin’ Wolf to reveal the core of each song as a musical masterpiece – a totem of our collective consciousness forged by our shared, popular culture. Composer and drummer Glenn Kotche (Wilco) contributes Three Parts Wisdom, a rhythmic and multilayered new work for Maya that evokes the experience of the individual alone and as part of a collective. Composer David T. Little, also a drummer and well-known for his dramatic classical and operatic compositions, has written Hellhound for Maya, a new work based on legendary bluesman Robert Johnson’s 1937 song Hellhound On My Trail, which tells the story of a man pursued by demons, unable to rest.
The second half of All Vows delves into our inherent desire for ritual and meaning, and begins with the New York premiere of Arab-American composer Mohammed Fairouz’s new Kol Nidrei, in which Maya sings the text in Aramaic and engages echoes of ancient cantorial styles. Michael Gordon’s All Vows takes the Kol Nidrei as its starting point, and reimagines it entirely.Beiser’s extensive collaboration with film artist Bill Morrison is reflected the final large-scale work on the program, Michael Harrison’s Just Ancient Loops. Morrison uses archival footage, chemical process, and animation to create a stunning visual tapestry that illustrates, in his words, “the implication of an unknowable future as reflected through a dissolving historical document.” Just Ancient Loops is a 25-minute epic piece that unveils every aspect of the cello – from its most glorious and mysterious harmonics to earthy, rhythmic pizzicatos – all utilizing “just intonation,” an ancient tuning system in which the distances between notes are based upon whole number ratios. Morrison’s film explores the many spiritual beliefs and views of the heavens, and the ancient philosophical concept of the “Music of the Spheres” exploring proportion in the movements of celestial bodies as a form of music.
All Vows was premiered at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in 2014 and has since been performed in Dallas and Chicago; this season it will be presented by BAM and SPA Houston. Other highlights of Maya’s current season include a solo appearance as part of the Barbican’s Sound Unbound festival in London, and in January 2016, the premiere of Fairouz’s new cello concerto with the Detroit Symphony.
About Maya Beiser:
Renowned cellist Maya Beiser “has etched a bold career path that marries classical to rock, starched collars to casual dress, and tradition to unorthodoxy,” reports AllMusic.com. Throughout her adventurous and versatile career she has reimagined the concert experience, commissioning and performing hundreds of new works written for her by today’s leading composers. The Boston Globe declares, “with virtuoso chops, rock-star charisma, and an appetite for pushing her instrument to the edge of avant-garde adventurousness,Maya Beiser is the post-modern diva of the cello.”
Raised in the Galilee Mountains in Israel, surrounded by the music and rituals of Jews, Muslims, and Christians, while studying classical cello repertoire, Maya has dedicated her work to reinventing solo cello performance in the mainstream classical arena. A featured performer on the world’s most prestigious stages including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall,BAM, London’s South Bank Centre, Sydney Opera House, The Kennedy Center, LA’s Royce Hall, and the Beijing Festival, she has collaborated with artists across many disciplines and wide range of musical styles, including Brian Eno, Philip Glass, Shirin Neshat, Steve Reich, David Lang, Tan Dun, Robert Woodruff and Bill Morrison, among many others. Maya’s 2011 TEDtalk has been watched by close to one million people and translated to 32 languages. Her critically acclaimed multimedia productions, including World To Come, Almost Human, Provenance, Elsewhere: A CelloOpera, and All Vows, have consistently been chosen for top critics’ “Best Of The Year” lists.
Highlights of Maya’s recent US tours include performances at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, Celebrity Series in Boston, Ojai Music Festival, International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, and major venues and festivals in Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, Torino, Tokyo, Taipei, Athens, Mexico City and Bogota. She has appeared with many of the world’s top orchestras performing new works for the cello including the St. Paul Camber Orchestra, Montreal Symphony, BBC Concert Orchestra, Boston Pops, Sydney Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Nashville Symphony, China Philharmonic, and Shanghai Philharmonic, among many others.
Maya‘s vast discography includes nine solo albums. Her latest best-selling album,Uncovered – a collection of re-imagined and re-contextualized classic rock, in stunning performances by Maya and new arrangements by Evan Ziporyn – topped the classical music charts making the number one spot on both Amazon and iTunes. These “uncovers” evoke the unprecedented power of the music of Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Janis Joplin, Howlin’ Wolf, King Crimson, Muddy Waters, and AC/DC as musical masterpieces.
A frequent collaborator with film composers, Maya Beiser is the featured soloist on James Newton Howard’s soundtracks for films by M. Night Shyamalan (The Happening, After Earth), Denzel Washington (The Great Debaters), Edward Zwick (Blood Diamond), and Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman).
Maya was a founding member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars and is a graduate of Yale University. She makes her home in New York.
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