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EMPAC - The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer

Troy, New York, NY            

EMPAC—The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is where the arts, sciences, and technology meet under one roof and breathe the same air. Four exceptional venues enable audiences, artists, and researchers to inquire, experiment, develop, and experience the ever-changing relationship between our senses, technology, and the worlds we create around us.

Designed by London-based Grimshaw Architects, EMPAC opened in fall 2008, with the The New York Times declaring, “The concert hall of the 21st century has arrived.” The 220,000-square foot building includes many firsts in the fields of acoustics, performing arts infrastructure, and architectural engineering. The integration of these features with audio, video, lighting, computer, and stage rigging networks makes EMPAC an ideal environment for human interaction with digital media.

Both a performing arts center and research and production facility, EMPAC provides an environment that supports the realization of complex artworks and research projects at any stage, from inception to completion. The EMPAC artist-in-residence program runs year-round, developing new and commissioned projects, many of which receive their premiere here.

Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti joins EMPAC as the new curator of music, and is one of the center’s three curators, alongside Vic Brooks, senior curator of time-based visual art, and Ashley Ferro-Murray, curator of theater and dance. Within an interdisciplinary framework, each EMPAC curator is responsible for supporting the development and production of new works that stretch the boundaries of their field, interface with a diverse roster of international artists, and program challenging, adventurous performances for the Rensselaer campus and Capital Region communities. The team is led by founding director Johannes Goebel, who continues to be involved worldwide in the intellectual exchange on art, science, and technology, pursuing the questions of political, cultural, educational, and aesthetic relevance of the field.

Anonymous Man: Michael Gordon, The Crossing

Composer and Bang on a Can founder Michael Gordon presented his choral work, Anonymous Man, performed by the 24-voice ensemble The Crossing. The hour-long piece expands on Gordon’s architectural approach to composition, layering minimalistic swirls of vocal sounds on top of one another to create a hypnotic group incantation.

Taking inspiration from his neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, Gordon says, “When I moved into my loft on Desbrosses, the streets were empty, since few people lived there. But both then and now, there were the homeless.

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Okkyung Lee

Experimental cellist Okkyung Lee can be found everywhere—performing in underground clubs and venues across the world as well as with legends like Laurie Anderson, John Zorn, and Thurston Moore. Lee brings aggressive intensity to her amplified solo cello set, deconstructing the sound of the cello and rebuilding it in unexpected ways.

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Kate Soper: Ipsa Dixit

Ipsa Dixit is an evening-length work of theatrical chamber music by American composer Kate Soper. Exploring the intersection of music, language, and meaning, the piece blends elements of monodrama, Greek theater, and screwball comedy to skewer the treachery of language and the questionable authenticity of artistic expression. Developed in pieces since 2010, Soper’s EMPAC residency will culminate in the first performance of the work’s entire cycle, featuring percussionist Ian Antonio, violinist Josh Modney, and flutist Erin Lesser.

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