So, we announced the winners of our 2013 Awards two weeks back, and we’re particularly honored to have the chance to recognize Meredith Monk with this year’s Founders Award, the highest award the organization bestows.
A recipient of the 2010 Letter of Distinction, Meredith has had a profound influence on artists from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds for the breadth and depth of her creative accomplishments. In his monumental Oxford History of Western Music, Richard Taruskin posits a correlation between Meredith’s output and the very origins of music but suggests that her work is also a clear harbinger of the music of the future. For the present, her work has not only deeply impacted the creators and interpreters of cutting-edge post-classical music and the most adventurous pop musicians (Björk is among her most ardent admirers), erasing the boundaries between musical genres, it has also foreshadowed today’s ubiquitous multi-media projects while its pure, unabashed physicality celebrates our common humanity.
Meredith Monk is a composer, singer, director/choreographer, filmmaker, and creator of new opera and music theater works. During a career spanning five decades, Meredith 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” and “interdisciplinary performance,” Meredith has been hailed as a “magician of the voice,” and “one of America’s coolest composers.” In 1965, she began her innovative exploration of the voice as a multi-faceted instrument and subsequently composed and performed many solo pieces for unaccompanied voice and voice/keyboard. In 1978, she formed Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble to further expand her musical textures and forms. Her vocal music is an eloquent language in and of itself which expands the boundaries of musical composition, creating landscapes of sound that unearth feelings, energies, and memories for which there are no words. In addition to her groundbreaking vocal and theater pieces (which include Book of Days, Dolmen Music, impermanence, Songs of Ascension and ATLAS), Meredith has created vital new repertoire for orchestra, chamber ensembles, and solo instruments. Her music has also appeared in motion pictures by Jean-Luc Godard and the Coen Brothers, among others. Celebrated internationally, her music has been presented by the Lincoln Center Festival, Houston Grand Opera, London’s Barbican Center, and at major venues in countries from Brazil to Syria. With a discography featuring over a dozen recordings, Meredith’s numerous honors include induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, receiving a MacArthur Award and a 2012 Doris Duke Artist Award, and being named Musical America’s 2012 Composer of the Year. In March 2012, she premiered Realm Variations, for six voices and small ensemble, commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony. Meredith is currently developing a new music-theater work, On Behalf of Nature, to premiere in January 2013.
Meredith on NewMusicBox
Experience the historic 2007 meeting between Meredith Monk and Björk arranged for Counterstream Radio below, or over on NewMusicBox.
Read and watch Frank J. Oteri’s March 2000 chat with Meredith about everything from the voice as an instrument and the compositional process to indeterminacy and Janis Joplin on NewMusicBox.
Watch & Listen
Here’s an eight-part YouTube documentary about Meredith directed by Peter Greenaway. (It’s part of the “Four American Composers” series from 1983.)