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Anna Lindemann’s New Cross-Disciplinary Performance Delves Into the Social Lives of Ants and Humans (September 6 - 8)
Bard Conservatory Vocal Arts Program alumni/ae Michael Hoffman '15 and Lucy Fitz Gibbon '15, with collaborative piano fellow Ryan MacEvoy McCullough, are premiering The Colony at the Studio Theatre, University of Connecticut Storrs campus. Hoffman directs, soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon and pianist Ryan MacEvoy McCullough perform in this "unique tour-de-force of science-inspired art ... the birth of a whole new genre."“A unique tour-de-force of science-inspired art. Anna Lindemann is a brilliant animator, composer, and performer… [her] work marks the birth of a whole new genre.” — David Rothenberg (author, philosopher, musician)
STORRS, CT: Animator, composer, and performer Anna Lindemann premieres her newest work, The Colony, an art-science performance about sisterhood and the evolution of communication in two of the most social creatures on earth: humans and ants. Three performances on September 6 - 8 take place at the Studio Theatre, located on the University of Connecticut Storrs campus. Tickets are free, with reservations highly recommended by visiting www.thecolony.show.
In this performance, Lindemann herself portrays the loving, bookish, and stubborn Mona as she struggles to reconnect with her estranged relatives, performed by soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon and pianist Ryan MacEvoy McCullough. Mona turns to the ant colony for inspiration and direction. With more than 500,000 ant sisters migrating, raiding, and even reproducing as one superorganism, an army ant colony appears to Mona as the paragon of successful social existence. Co-written by Lindemann and Emma Komlos-Hrobsky and directed by Michael Hofmann, The Colony ventures into speculative fiction and includes projected animations and imagery alongside live spoken and musical performance, all informed by scientific research on ant colonies.
Funny, poignant, enlightening, and just the right amount of strange, The Colony aims to kindle a sense of awe and understanding of our diverse biological world, while using the ant colony as a lens for understanding the ever-present challenge of human connection. As part of a new genre called Evo Devo Art, The Colony weaves together evolutionary and developmental biology (Evo Devo) with multidisciplinary art. Audiences can expect to be entranced by visualizations of ant pheromone trails, a musical aria from the perspective of an ant queen, and a dance sequence set in a grocery store inspired by army ant swarm raids. In all, The Colony juxtaposes forms of biological communication – which have developed over millions of years – with modern technological media as a means of grappling with the paradox of acute loneliness in a world more connected than ever.
The Colony’s script is co-written by Lindemann and Emma-Komlos Hrobsky; Lindemann also composed the music and directed animations by Sarah Shattuck, Jasmine Rajavadee, Allie Marsh, and herself. Michael Hofmann directs, with costumes by Brittny Mahan, lights by Sam Biondolillo, sound by Katie Salerno, and additional film direction by Ryan Glista.
The Colony draws visual materials and research in part from the world-class Carl W. and Marian E. Rettenmeyer Army Ant Guest Collection housed at the University of Connecticut and is one of a number of “AntU” initiatives inspired by the collection.
This year’s festival will coincide with New York State’s newly announced Senate Resolution No. J2103 by Senator James Sanders Jr. of Queens, “recognizing October 1, 2019, as China Day and the first week of October 2019, as Chinese American Heritage Week, to strengthen the friendship and bilateral relationship between the State of New York and Chinese Americans.”
The musical highlight of the festival takes place at 7:30 p.m. on October 1, “China Day,” at Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall. “From the Middle Kingdom to the Wild West” is an orchestral concert featuring the world premiere of Men of Iron and the Golden Spike 铁汉金钉, a symphonic oratorio by celebrated composer Zhou Long honoring the over 20,000 Chinese laborers who contributed to the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in the American West 150 years ago. This piece was commissioned by the US-China Music Institute at Bard College in partnership with the Chinese Railroad Workers of North America Project and the Center for East Asian Studies at Stanford University. Over three years in the making, the idea was conceived by US-China Music Institute director Jindong Cai and Stanford history professor Gordon Chang, who enlisted Zhou Long to write the music and writer Su Wei to provide the libretto. Zhou Long is well known for his seamless blending of Chinese and Western elements to create singularly expressive compositions, including the 2010 opera “Madame White Snake” which earned him a Pulitzer Prize. His new concerto for orchestra, Classic of Mountain and Seas 山海经, will also receive its U.S. premiere on October 1. Zhou describes Classic as a musical map inspired by “ancient supernatural aesthetics.” Both pieces will be performed by The Orchestra Now with festival artistic director Jindong Cai conducting. The orchestra will follow the path of the great rail line that connected East to West by performing the concert a second time at Stanford University’s Bing Concert Hall on October 6 at 2:30 p.m.
Another major festival concert will take place on Monday, September 30 at 7:00 p.m. in Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall. Titled “Wellington Koo the Diplomat – A Life in Song,” this multimedia event features performances by world-renowned Chinese artists including Luoyong Wang as narrator, soprano Ying Huang and bass-baritone Shenyang, and a world-premiere new chamber piece by composer Peng-Peng Gong. With video projections, dramatic narration, and music, this concert will explore Koo’s role in opening China to the world and developing its relationship with the United States. A gala dinner and auction to benefit the US-China Music Institute will follow the concert in the Weill Music Room at Carnegie Hall.
With both of these concerts the festival puts a spotlight on the important contributions of Chinese in the United States, from the largely unknown to the world-famous. The Chinese railroad workers played a pivotal role in the Westward expansion of the U.S. during the 19th century, but their labors were not widely reported and have rarely been acknowledged. Zhou Long’s oratorio will give new voice to their epic story. Diplomat Wellington Koo participated in some of the most important events of the 20th Century, famously refusing to sign the 1919 Treaty of Versailles out of concern for China’s position in the post-war reorganization of world power, then serving as Ambassador to the U.S. and as a judge in the International Court of Justice, and playing a major role in the creation of the United Nations.
Jindong Cai, director of the US-China Music Institute and artistic director of the China Now Music Festival, sees the festival as a cultural counterpoint to the current political landscape. "Politics often divides people, but in art and music, you always find connections. With the China Now Music Festival as our looking glass, we hope to continue bringing people and traditions from China and America together through music."
Other festival events continue to explore these and other topics in US-China relations. On September 25 at 6:30 p.m., the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) in Manhattan will host an evening with Zhou Long, Su Wei, and Jindong Cai to discover the conception, creation, and performance of Men of Iron and the Golden Spike. On September 28 at noon at the Jim Ottoway Jr. Film Center at Bard College, the US-China Music Institute presents a film preview of the forthcoming documentary “Beethoven in Beijing,” discussing the future of classical music through an exploration of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s close ties to China. An excerpt will be shown followed by conversation with the filmmakers and festival director Jindong Cai. On September 29 at 7:00 p.m., pianist Susan Chan comes to the Bard College Conservatory of Music to perform a selection of solo works inspired by Chinese musical traditions, including pieces by Tan Dun, Zhou Long, Chen Yi, and Alexander Tcherepnin.
A related special event will take place on September 28 at 8:00 p.m. at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. The Bard College Conservatory of Music is presenting a film concert with live orchestra performance of Tan Dun’s Martial Arts Trilogy, with Tan Dun conducting the Bard Conservatory Orchestra in his first appearance as the newly appointed dean of the Conservatory of Music. Tickets from this event benefit the Conservatory Scholarship Fund.
Events and Tickets
Read More in Broadway World
Open Dress Rehearsal at the Fisher Center on Sept. 29
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