Cellular Songs, Meredith Monk, 2018

Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble perform “Cellular Songs” at BAM Harvey Theater on March 14, 2018. Ensemble: Ellen Fisher Katie Geissinger Meredith Monk Allison Sniffin Jo Stewart Member of the Young People’s Chorus Photo Credit: Stephanie Berger.

Concert version

Meredith Monk presents a concert of music from her newest work, Cellular Songs, with the women of her acclaimed Vocal Ensemble. A “deeply affecting meditation on the nature of the biological cell as a metaphor for human society” (Financial Times), Cellular Songs features some of Monk’s most adventurous and daring music for the voice to date, paired with violin, piano and keyboard. Over the course of the evening, shimmering, multi-dimensional musical forms evoke such biological processes as layering, replication, division, and mutation. Cellular Songs premiered to sold-out audiences at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in March 2018. 

Meredith Monkvoice and keyboard
Ellen Fishervoice
Katie Geissingervoice
Allison Sniffinvoice, violin and keyboard
Jo Stewartvoice 

Costume Designer  Yoshio Yabara
Lighting Designer Joe Levasseur
Sound Designer Eli Walker
Video Scenarios Meredith Monk
Video Design Katherine Freer
Cinematography Ben Stechschulte

“As [Monk] sang, there was a palpable sense of love and joy between her and the audience that spoke volumes. An antidote to the troubled times we live in.”  
-Virginia Webb, Financial Times

Theatre version

(top left, bottom right and middle) Julieta Cervantes (top middle and right) Stephanie Berger (bottom right) Steven Pisano

Cellular Songs is the newest in a series of music theater pieces created by Meredith Monk that explore our interdependent relationship with nature while seeking to evoke the ineffable. Following the celebrated On Behalf of Nature, which offered a liminal space questioning the precarious state of our global ecology, Cellular Songs turns attention inward to the very fabric of life itself. Joined by the women of her acclaimed Vocal Ensemble, Monk combines some of her most adventurous vocal music to date with movement, light, instrumental music and film, as well as a video installation designed specifically for each space. The work, at once playful and contemplative, draws inspiration from such cellular activity as layering, replication, division and mutation, and looks to underlying systems in nature that can serve as a prototype for human behavior in our tumultuous world. Conjuring cycles of birth and death throughout, Monk once again reminds us of her vitality as an artist who cuts to the core of experience, continuing to share the genius of her discovery and innovation.

Conceived, composed and directed by Meredith Monk
: Ellen Fisher, Katie Geissinger, Meredith Monk, Allison Sniffin, Jo Stewart and girls from select children’s choruses
Music by Meredith Monk
Costumes and Scenography by Yoshio Yabara
Lighting Design by Joe Levasseur
Sound Design by Eli Walker
Video Scenarios/Direction by Meredith Monk
Video Design by Katherine Freer
Cinematography by Ben Stechschulte
Developed in collaboration with Ellen Fisher, Katie Geissinger, Allison Sniffin, and Jo Stewart

Cellular Songs premiered at the BAM Harvey Theater, Brooklyn, NY in March 2018, with subsequent performances at Diaghilev Festival, Perm, Russia; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; UCLA CAP, Los Angeles, CA; Stanford LIVE, Stanford, CA

“Over 75 minutes, Ms. Monk spun together divergent elements so fluidly that it created an unmistakable sense of hope. It’s much easier to conceive of bridging public divides — or even containing multitudes, as an individual — when you witness a synthesis like the one created in Cellular Songs.”
-Seth Colter Walls, The New York Times, March 2018


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