FIAF and Prototype festival present Multi-Media Concert “Silent Voices” featuring The Brooklyn Youth Chorus Jan 14 & 15

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Prototype: Opera/Theatre/Now and

French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF)



Silent Voices

Multi-Media Concert

Not for Review


Music by The Brooklyn Youth Chorus

Conducted by Dianne Berkun Menaker


Saturday, January 14 and Sunday, January 15 at 5pm

FIAF Florence Gould Hall; 55 East 59th Street, NYC



New York, NY, January 6, 2017The Prototype: Opera/Theater/Now festival and The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), New York’s premiere French cultural center, present Silent Voices on Saturday, January 14 and Sunday January 15 at FIAF’s Florence Gould Hall.


Brooklyn Youth Chorus harnesses the power of young people to be instruments of change in an electrifying multimedia concert. To give voice to those who have been silenced or marginalized by social, cultural or religious circumstances, The Chorus commissioned a diverse group of innovative artists to interpret historical narratives and personal stories. The result is new music that explores race and identity, inequity and social disparity—music that matters.

Focusing on the voices of African-American and immigrant men and women in America, the concert includes commissioned music Sahba Aminikia, Jeff Beal, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Shara Nova, Toshi Reagon, and DJ Spooky and texts by Hilton Als, Michelle Alexander, Samad Behrangi, and Pauli Murray. Helga Davis will host.

Part of a year-long series of performances, Silent Voices will culminate in a world premiere in May 2017, the centerpiece of Brooklyn Youth Chorus’ 25th anniversary season. Other commissioned composers include Caroline Shaw, Nico Muhly, Kamala Sankaram and Ellis Ludwig-Leone, Ellen Reid, Alicia Hall Moran, and Rhiannon Giddens.


Silent Voices is a co-commission of Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and WQXR.


Creative Team and Cast


Producer & Performance: The Brooklyn Youth Chorus
Conceived by: Dianne Berkun Menaker
Curators: Dianne Berkun Menaker & Kristin Marting
Music Director & Conductor: Dianne Berkun Menaker
Director: Kristin Marting
Featured Composers: Sahba Aminikia, Jeff Beal, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Shara Nova, Toshi Reagon, &

DJ Spooky
Writer: Hilton Als
Additional Writers: Michelle Alexander, Samad Behrangi, & Pauli Murray
Scenic & Video Designer: Peter Nigrini
Associate Scenic & Video Designer: Dan Scully
Lighting Designer: Jeanette Yew
Costume Designer: Kate Fry
Sound Engineer: Garth MacAleavey
Host: Helga Davis
Dramaturge: Peter McCabe
Executive Producer: Elise Bernhardt
Producer: Nunally Kersh
Production Manager: Robert Henderson
Associate Production Manager: Dan Mullins
Stage Manager: Audrey Chait


With the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE): Erica Dicker, Jacob Greenberg, Brandon George, Rebekah Heller, Clara Warnaar, Dan Lippel, Ryan Muncy, Mariel Roberts, Katie Schoepflin, and Patrick Swoboda


Duration of the show is 75 minutes.


The Saturday, January 14 show will be followed by a post-performance conversation.


Silent Voices is generously supported by The Aaron Copland Fund for Music; the Amphion Foundation; Charles J. and Irene F. Hamm; the Howard Gilman Foundation; the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund; New Music USA; The BMI Foundation; The MAP Fund, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Special thanks to Marcus Wainwright and rag & bone for supporting the project by dressing the Chorus.


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About the Brooklyn Youth Chorus

Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, Brooklyn Youth Chorus is a collective of young singers and vocal ensembles re-envisioning choral music performance through their distinctive, remarkable sound, artistic innovation, and collaboration with classical and contemporary artists. With an incredibly versatile range and unique repertoire, Brooklyn Youth Chorus combines intensive vocal training and music study with exceptional performances. The chorus has been touted by The New York Times as a “consistently bold organization” that regularly commissions and presents new music in genre-defying forms. The chorus’ after-school program encompasses multi-level training divisions and advanced performing ensembles as well as a full complement of enrichment classes and individual lessons. The 650 diverse students of its core after-school and public school outreach programs represents nearly 200 schools citywide. Classes take place at their Cobble Hill headquarters and neighborhood locations in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Red Hook, Brooklyn.

About Dianne Berkun Menaker (Choral Director)
Dianne Berkun Menaker is the founder and artistic director of Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Under her visionary leadership, the Chorus has become one of the most highly regarded ensembles in the country and has stretched the artistic boundaries for the youth chorus. Hailed by The New York Times as “a remarkable choral conductor,” Berkun Menaker has prepared choruses for performances with acclaimed conductors, including Alan Gilbert, Marin Alsop, James Levine, Charles Dutoit, and Robert Spano. Most notably, she prepared the Chorus for its 2002 debut with the New York Philharmonic in John Adams’ On the Transmigration of Souls, the recording for which the Chorus won a Grammy Award in 2005. Berkun Menaker is the creator of the Chorus’s Cross-Choral Training® program, a proven holistic and experiential approach to developing singers in a group setting encompassing both voice and musicianship pedagogy.

About Kristin Marting (Director)
Kristin Marting is a director of hybrid work based in New York City. Over the last 25 years, she has constructed 27 stage works, including 12 original hybrid works, eight reimaginings of novels, and seven classic plays. She works in a collaborative, process-driven way to fuse different disciplines into a cohesive whole. Kristin has directed 17 works at HERE and also premiered works at 3LD, Ohio Theatre, and Soho Rep. Her work has toured to 7 Stages, Berkshire Festival, Brown, MCA, New World, Painted Bride, Perishable, UMass, Moscow Art Theatre, and Oslo. She has directed workshops for Clubbed Thumb, New Georges, Playwrights Horizons, Public Theatre, Target Margin, and others. Select residencies include Bard, Cal Arts, LMCC, Mabou Mines, MASS MOCA, NACL, Orchard Project, Playwrights Center, and Williams. Kristin was named a Person of the Decade, a Woman to Watch by ArtTable and received a BAX10 Award. Selected grants: two MAP Fund, NEA, NYSCA, Greenwall, Harkness, Jerome, and Santvoord Foundations. Kristin is co-founder and Artistic Director of HERE, where she directs projects, cultivates artists and programs (including 17 OBIE-award winners) two performance spaces for an annual audience of 30,000.

About Sahba Aminikia (Composer)
Born in 1981 in Tehran, Iran, Aminikia studied music composition in Russia at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory under Boris Ivanovich Tishchenko, a post-graduate student of Dimitri Shostakovich. In his homeland, Aminikia studied under renowned Iranian pianists Nikan Milani, Safa Shahidi, and Gagik Babayan. He received his BM and MM with honors from San Francisco Conservatory of Music under Dan Becker, David Garner, and David Conte. He is the recipient of many commissions, from theatre troops to contemporary classical ensembles, film scores, Persian traditional music groups to jazz bands, including Kronos Quartet, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Symphony Parnassus, San Francisco Conservatory of Music New Music Ensemble, Mobius Trio, Delphi Trio,and Living Earth Show.

His music has been widely performed in United States, Canada, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Ecuador, France, Italy, Poland, China, Greece, Turkey, and Israel and at venues such Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Le Poisson Rouge, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, SF Exploratorium, SFJazz, and Saint Anne’s Warehouse.

About Jeff Beal (Composer)
Jeff Beal is an American composer of music for film, media, and the concert hall. With musical beginnings as a jazz trumpeter and recording artist, his works are infused with an understanding of rhythm and spontaneity

His score and theme for Netflix drama, House of Cards, has received three primetime Emmy Award nominations. He has received fifteen primetime Emmy nominations for his music, and has won four statues. Other scores of note include his dramatic music for HBO’s acclaimed series Carnivale and Rome, as well as his comedic score and theme for the detective series, Monk.

Beal’s commissioned works have been performed by many leading orchestras and conductors, including the St. Louis, Rochester, Pacific, Frankfurt, Munich, and Detroit symphony orchestras. His music for director Philip Haas’ art installation Butchers, Dragons, Gods & Skeletons, was showcased at the Kimball Art Museum and the 2011 Venice Biennale. Other commissions include the Metropole Orchestra (Netherlands), The Ying Quartet, The Debussy Trio, The Henry Mancini Institute, The Commission Project, and The Prism Brass Quintet. His first choral commission, entitled The Salvage Men, is written for the Los Angeles Master Chorale.

About Mary Kouyoumdjian (Composer)
Mary Kouyoumdjian is a composer with projects ranging from concert works to multimedia collaborations and film scores. As a first generation Armenian-American and having come from a family directly affected by the Lebanese Civil War and Armenian Genocide, she uses a sonic pallet that draws on her heritage, interest in music as documentary, and background in experimental composition to progressively blend the old with the new.

Kouyoumdjian has received commissions from the Kronos Quartet, Carnegie Hall, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, the American Composers Forum/JFund, REDSHIFT, Experiments in Opera, the Nouveau Classical Project, Fric- tion Quartet, Ensemble Oktoplus, and the Los Angeles New Music Ensemble. She has had artist residencies with Roulette/The Jerome Foundation, Montalvo Arts Center, and Exploring the Metropolis. In her work as a composer, orchestrator, and music editor for film, she has collaborated on a diverse array of motion pictures including orchestrating on the soundtracks to The Place Beyond the Pines (Focus Features) and Demonic (Dimension Films).

Kouyoumdjian received degrees from New York University and the University of California, San Diego and is currently pursuing a D.M.A. at Columbia University. She lives in Brooklyn.

About DJ Spooky / Paul Miller (Composer)
DJ Spooky aka Paul D. Miller is the executive editor of Origin Magazine and a composer, multimedia artist, editor, and author. His DJ Mixer iPad app has seen more than 12 million downloads in the last year. In 2012-2013 he was the first artist-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He’s produced and composed work for Yoko Ono, Thurston Moore, and scores of artists and award-winning films. Miller’s work as a media artist has appeared in the Whitney Biennial; The Venice Biennial for Architecture; the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany; Kunsthalle, Vienna; The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and many other museums and galleries. His book Sound Unbound, an anthology of writings on electronic music and digital media is a best-selling title for MIT Press.

DJ Spooky’s Rebirth of a Nation was commissioned in 2004 by the Lincoln Center Festival; Spoleto Festival USA; Weiner Festwochen; and the Festival d’Automne in Paris. DJ Spooky’s multimedia performance piece Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica was commissioned by BAM for the 2009 Next Wave Festival; The Hopkins Center/Dartmouth College; UCSB Arts & Lectures; Melbourne International Arts Festival; and the Festival dei 2 Mondi in Spoleto, Italy.

About Toshi Reagon (Composer)
Toshi Reagon is a one-woman celebration of all that’s dynamic, progressive and uplifting in American music. The New York Times described her blend as “…a love of mixing things up…[her] vocal style ranges from a dirty blues moan to a gospel shout to an ethereal croon.”

Toshi Reagon composed and served as musical director for Bones and Ash: A Gilda Story by Urban Bush Women dance troupe. She has also scored dance works by LAVA and the Jane Comfort Dance Company. Her work has been featured in film (The Secret Life of Bees) and television (PBS/WGBH’s Africans in America, The L Word, Crossing Jordan, House and HBO’s award-winning Beah: A Black Woman Speaks). She collaborated with director Robert Wilson and Bernice Johnson Reagon on a Gustave Flaubert-inspired opera, The Temptation of St. Anthony, which toured throughout Europe.

Toshi Reagon’s honors include a 2009 Out Music Award, the 2007 Black Lily Award for Outstanding Performance, and a 2004 New York Foundation for the Arts award for music composition. She has been honored by the National Women’s History Project for “amazing intelligence, talent, courage and tenacity [that testify] to the myriad ways that generations of women have moved history forward.”


About Peter Nigrini (Video Projection)
Peter Nigrini has designed on Broadway for The Heidi Chronicles, An Act of God, The Best Man, Fela!, 9 to 5, and Say Goodnight Gracie. Other designs include: Dear Evan Hansen (2nd Stage Theater, Arena Stage), Here Lies Love (The Public Theater / Royal National Theatre-London), Amelié (Berkeley Rep), Grounded (The Public Theater), Invisible Thread (2nd Stage Theatre), Fetch Clay, Make Man (New York Theater Workshop; McCarter Theatre Center), The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (2nd Stage Theatre, Geffen Playhouse, Dallas Theatre Center), Notes from Underground (Yale Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, Theater for a New Audience), Grace Jones’ – Hurricane Tour (Hollywood Bowl, Hammerstein Ballroom), Rent (New World Stages), Elsewhere (BAM), Haroun and the Sea of Stories (New York City Opera), Blind Date (Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance), and The Orphan of Zhao (Lincoln Center Festival). Peter is a founding member of the Obie award-winning theater company Nature Theater of Oklahoma, for which he has designed scenery, costumes, lighting and projection for No Dice (Soho Rep), Romeo and Juliet (Salzburger Festspiele) and Life & Times (Burgtheater, Vienna; FIAF’s Crossing the Line Festival) among others. Awards include the first ever Drama Desk for Outstanding Projection Design and 2013 Hewes Design Award for Here Lies Love, and a Special Lortel Award for Grounded.

About Hilton Als (Show Writer)
Hilton Als became a staff writer at The New Yorker in 1994, and a theatre critic in 2002. Before coming to The New Yorker, Als was a staff writer for the Village Voice and an editor-at-large at Vibe. He has also written articles for The Nation and collaborated on film scripts for Swoon and Looking for Langston.

Als edited the catalogue for the Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition entitled Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art. His first book, The Women, a meditation on gender, race, and personal identity, was published in 1996.

In 1997, the New York Association of Black Journalists awarded Als first prize in both Magazine Critique/Review and Magazine Arts and Entertainment. He was awarded a Guggenheim for Creative Writing in 2000 and the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism for 2002-03. In 2009, Als worked with the performer Justin Bond on Cold Water, an exhibition of paintings, drawings, and videos by performers, at La MaMa Gallery. In 2010, he co-curated Self-Consciousness at the Veneklasen Werner Gallery in Berlin, and published Justin Bond/Jackie Curtis, his second book.

About Helga Davis (Host)
Helga Davis is a New York based artist whose interdisciplinary work includes collaborations with composers and choreographers alike. In 2001, Wire Magazine’s David Keenan described Helga as “a powerful vocalist with an almost operatic range and all the bruised sensuality of Jeanne Lee.” She has recently starred in The Blue Planet, written by Peter Greenaway and directed by Saskia Boddeke and in The Temptation of St. Anthony, directed by Robert Wilson, among many others. In March 2007 Davis began hosting Overnight Music on WNYC and was awarded the ASCAP Deems Taylor Multimedia Award for hosting 24:33: twenty-four hours and thirty-three minutes of the playful and playable John Cage. Famed director Robert Wilson says of Helga, “Helga Davis is a beautiful, natural performer with an inner power and strength that is truly unique. She combines voice and movement in a united whole that is spellbinding. Her genius in her stillness and quietness evoke a very deep emotion. She is radiant in every way.”


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PROTOTYPE – OPERA/THEATRE/NOW is an annual festival of visionary opera-theatre and music-theatre works by pioneering contemporary artists from New York City and around the world. PROTOTYPE is a co-production of Beth Morrison Projects and HERE, two leaders in the creation and presentation of contemporary, post-classical, multi-disciplinary opera-theatre and music-theatre work. The festival is the only of its kind in New York City–presenting both complete performances as well as works-in-progress through partnerships with local performing arts venues.


Historically, the marriage of music and drama has been something composers tackled further along in their careers.  Fast forward to today: serious young composers are now creating new works of opera-theatre/music-theatre, and we are in a second golden age of creation for the art form. It is poised to become the most exciting live arts medium in the 21st century, embodying a modern day notion of Wagner’s gesamtkunstwerk.


PROTOTYPE gives voice to these composers whose works would generally be categorized as “contemporary classical” or “post-classical” rather than the more commercial musical theatre idiom that is being explored by other producers in New York and elsewhere. The festival provides a recurring showcase of these visionary chamber-sized opera-theatre and music-theatre pieces that are currently flooding the New York scene and are ready to explode at the national and international levels. The festival also presents exciting new works by international artists, and hopes to be a global reference of artistic excellence in the field of opera and music-theatre.


About FIAF

The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) is New York’s premiere French cultural and language center. FIAF’s mission is to create and offer New Yorkers innovative and unique programs in education and the arts that explore the evolving diversity and richness of French cultures. FIAF seeks to generate new ideas and promote cross cultural dialogue through partnerships and new platforms of expression.



Season Sponsors: American Society of the French Legion of Honor, Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Edmond de Rothschild Foundations, Engie, FACE (French American Cultural Exchange), Florence Gould Foundation, Hermés Foundation within the framework of the New Settings program, Howard Gilman Foundation, Institut français, JCDecaux, National Endowment for the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), Office de Tourisme de Boulogne-Billancourt, and Pommery.


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What: Silent Voices 
When: Saturday, January 14 & Sunday, January 15 at 5pm
Where: FIAF – Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th Street

(between Park and Madison Avenue)

Admission: FIAF/Prototype Members: $22

Non-Members: $30

Protopack: $135

Tickets: 800 982 2787 |
Information: 212 355 6160 |
Transportation: 4, 5, 6, N, R and Q to 59th Street & Lexington Avenue
  F to 63rd Street & Lexington Avenue; E to 53rd Street & 5th Avenue
  Bus – M1, M2, M3, M4, Q31 to 59th Street; M5 to 58th Street



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