Four Quartets: Residency and Commission for Pam Tanowitz and The Knights
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“The greatest creation of dance theater so far this century”
Four Quartets, a collaboration between choreographer Pam Tanowitz and composer Kaija Saariaho, was inspired by the 75th anniversary of T.S. Eliot’s poem of the same name. Four Quartets had its world premiere at Bard’s SummerScape Festival on July 6, 7, and 8 in the Fisher Center’s 800-seat Sosnoff Theater.
The New York Times described Four Quartets as “the greatest creation of dance theater so far this century” in its review: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/08/arts/dance/four-quartets-review-pam-tanowitz.html
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts has joined the Fisher Center, the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, and the Barbican as a co-commissioner of Four Quartets, which will tour the world in 2019 and 2020. Dates and details will be announced at:
And, program notes on Four Quartets by the dance and political theorist Dana Mills can be found at: http://fishercenter.bard.edu/events/four-quartets/#program
We at the Fisher Center are deeply grateful to our generous supporters, talented artists, and enthusiastic audiences, all of whom contributed to the success of this extraordinary production.
“Four Quartets” Goes Abroad in 2019
The Fisher Center’s acclaimed production of “Four Quartets” has its European premiere May 22-25 at London’s Barbican*. For information and tickets, please see:
U.S. tour dates coming soon….
*The Barbican is a co-commissioner of “Four Quartets.”
A Choreographer Unafraid of Masterpieces Takes on T.S. Eliot
Read the New York Times preview of Four Quartets, including an interview with composer Kaija Saariaho.
An Interview with Brice Marden
Read Fisher Center artistic director Gideon Lester’s interview with Brice Marden in Gagosian Quarterly here. They discuss the Marden canvases that form the set design of Four Quartets.
Tickets to the premiere of Four Quartets are available now. Roundtrip transportation from NYC is just $40. Or make a SummerScape weekend of it and also see the first revival of Leonard Bernstein’s Peter Pan in New York in more than 50 years. For more information, click here.
Four Quartets Blog
Keep up to date on the development of Four Quartets by following our blog! Artistic Director Gideon Lester shares all of the latest developments as we get closer to the project’s premiere. Follow us by clicking here.
“Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.”
– from T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets
These words have inspired choreographer Pam Tanowitz, composer Kaija Saariaho, musicians The Knights, and painter Brice Marden to create a new work to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Eliot’s masterpiece.
Mysterious, personal, and intensely beautiful, Four Quartets emerged from the Second World War’s destruction as a hopeful testament to the redemptive power of spirituality, art, and human goodness. In the poems, Eliot meditates on connections between past and present, time and space, individual and collective, and movement and stillness. The expressive qualities of dance and music recur as metaphors for the ineffability of human experience. Reimagining these poems, which spoke for the concerns of a generation in the midst of war and doubt, is a timely endeavor.
Pam Tanowitz is a leading American choreographer who is recognized for her post-modern treatment of classical dance vocabulary. Kaija Saariaho is an internationally acclaimed composer whose music combines electronica and abstraction into complex waves of lyrical beauty. Tanowitz and Saariaho will be joined in the project by the renowned artist Brice Marden, who will create its scenic design.
This project extends Pam Tanowitz’s collaboration with The Knights, an innovative Brooklyn-based chamber orchestra. The Knights ensemble for Four Quartets will consist of violin, viola, cello, harp, and electronics. This work will be Tanowitz’s first to incorporate text, which will be performed live by an actor whose words, in some sections, will be electronically manipulated and incorporated into Saariaho’s score. Eight dancers will perform the choreography. The T. S. Eliot estate supports the production, which will be the world’s first authorized dance and live music work based on Four Quartets.
The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts in upstate New York is producing this collaboration. Pam Tanowitz Dance and The Knights will be in residence at the Fisher Center from June 18-24, working in Fisher Center studios to integrate the actor into the staging and score while completing choreographic and musical rehearsals. From June 25-July 5, the company will take the stage of the 800-seat, proscenium Sosnoff Theater for a production residency that will include work-in-progress performances at community partner sites, public and student masterclasses, artist talks on the creative process, and a lecture on Eliot and Four Quartets’ historical context.
The world premiere of the 75-minute work will take place on July 6, 7, and 8 to open the Fisher Center’s 2018 SummerScape Festival. Following the premiere, the production will be presented by its co-commissioners: the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA and the Barbican Centre in London. An estimated 7,500 audience members will experience this work through residency activities and its initial tour. Additional engagements are under discussion.
This project represents the Fisher Center’s mission to support the creation of world-class new work, build unique artistic and institutional collaborations, and encourage innovative artists to achieve their most ambitious visions.
This work was choreographed by Pam Tanowitz and performed by Pam Tanowitz Dance at the Joyce Theater in New York City on September 28, 2016. It is set to “Sequenzas for Viola, Trombone and Harp” by Luciano Beriola and was performed live by members of The Knights.
It is relevant to our project because it shows a past collaboration between Pam Tanowitz Dance and The Knights, and it demonstrates Pam Tanowitz’s commitment to contemporary music.
“Heaven on One’s Head” premiered at the Fisher Center’s 2015 SummerScape Festival; this clip is dated June 27, 2015. The work features Pam Tanowitz Dance and is set to Conlon Nancarrow’s String Quartet 1 & 3. The music is performed by FLUX Quartet.
This work is relevant to our project because it illustrates a commission by the Fisher Center for choreographer Pam Tanowitz and her company that included live contemporary music.
“Orion” was composed by Kaija Saariaho. It was commissioned and premiered by the Cleveland Orchestra in 2002. This recording features the Orchestre de Paris, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach, and was released on September 29, 2008.
“Memento Mori” is the first movement of this piece, which is relevant to our project because it highlights the expressive quality of Saariaho’s music and was commissioned and premiered by an American ensemble.
Start and End Dates
07/06/2018 — 07/08/2018
Annandale-on-Hudson, New York