Meredith Monk Birthday Celebration Meredith Monk Birthday Celebration

Meredith Monk is a composer, singer, and creator of new opera and music-theater works. Over the last five decades, she has been acclaimed by audiences and critics as a major creative force in the performing arts. A pioneer in what is now called “extended vocal technique,” Monk has been hailed as a “magician of the voice” and “one of America’s coolest composers”. Her groundbreaking exploration of the voice as an instrument, as an eloquent language in and of itself, expands the boundaries of musical composition, creating landscapes of sound that unearth feelings, energies, and memories for which there are no words. Among her many accolades, Monk was recently named an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by the Republic of France, and the 2012 Composer of the Year by Musical America. She is also one of NPR’s 50 Great Voices, and has received a 2012 Doris Duke Artist Award and a 2011 Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award for the Arts.
In 1965, Monk began her innovative exploration of the voice as a multifaceted instrument, composing mostly solo pieces for unaccompanied voice and voice and keyboard. In 1978, she formed Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble to further expand her musical textures and forms. In addition to numerous vocal, music-theater works and operas, Monk has created vital new repertoire for orchestra, chamber ensembles, and solo instruments, with commissions from Michael Tilson Thomas / New World Symphony and San Francisco Symphony, Kronos Quartet, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Monk has made more than a dozen recordings, most of which are on the ECM New Series label, including the 2008 Grammy-nominated impermanence and highly acclaimed Songs of Ascension (2011) and Piano Songs (2014) with pianists Ursula Oppens and Bruce Brubaker. Her music has also been featured in films by Jean-Luc Godard and the Coen Brothers, and on So You Think You Can Dance and the recent HBO series True Detective. Celebrated internationally, Monk’s work has been presented by Lincoln Center Festival, BAM, Houston Grand Opera, London’s Barbican Centre, and at major venues in countries from Brazil to Syria.
Monk’s numerous honors include a MacArthur “Genius” Award, two Guggenheim Fellowships, an American Music Center Letter of Distinction, an ASCAP Concert Music Award, and induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She holds honorary Doctor of Arts degrees from Bard College, the University of the Arts, The Juilliard School, the San Francisco Art Institute and the Boston Conservatory.
In 1999, Monk performed A Vocal Offering for His Holiness the Dalai Lama as part of the World Festival of Sacred Music in Los Angeles. In 2005, her 40th year of performing and creating new music was celebrated by a series of New York city-wide events, including a marathon concert in Carnegie’s Zankel Hall. Another marathon, Meredith Monk Music @ the Whitney, was presented by the Whitney Museum in 2009. In 2012, Monk was honored with a remix and interpretations cd, MONK MIX, featuring 25 artists from the jazz, pop, dj and new music worlds. More recently, she premiered Realm Variations for six voices and small ensemble, commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony, and performed in John Cage’s Song Books as part of the Symphony’s American Mavericks Festival. Monk’s newest music-theater piece, On Behalf of Nature, premiered in January 2013 at UCLA and is currently touring internationally. This fall, Meredith Monk will mark her 50th season as a creator and performer. Recognized as one of the most unique and influential artists of her generation, she has been appointed the 2014-2015 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall.
Meredith Monk official site
Photo credits: Jesse Frohman and Andrew Hurlbut