“Miller Theater, under its executive director, Melissa Smey, continues to be a hotbed of bold programming and contemporary music.”
— THE NEW YORK TIMES
OPENING NIGHT WITH STEVE REICH
80th Birthday Celebration (with two rarities)
Ensemble Signal plays 2 major works: Daniel Variations and You Are (Variations)
TIM MUNRO GOES SOLO
The former eighth blackbird flutist launches solo career with premiere-filled program that evokes dreams & stories, with soprano/composer Kate Soper
SEVEN INTERNATIONAL COMPOSER PORTRAITS
Miller's signature series since 1999 • Each composer to attend his/her Portrait
JOHN ZORN: Dream team of new music superstars performs 5 world premieres
LEI LIANG: East meets West as Schick conducts, with JACK, loadbang, Dresser
ZOSHA DI CASTRI: Yarn/Wire & Ekmeles introduce music of this young Canadian
BEAT FURRER: Either/Or performs a long overdue Portrait of the Austrian master
MISATO MOCHIZUKI: Known in Europe & Japan, now in NY with Yarn/Wire
JOHANNES MARIA STAUD: Signal plays the Austrian's inviting electronic work
KLAS TORSTENSSON: Sweden's Ensemble SON joins Either/Or to introduce the music of this important composer to NY
EARLY MUSIC MASTERS FROM U.K. & U.S.
THE TALLIS SCHOLARS
NEW YORK POLYPHONY
TWO FAMILY PRODUCTIONS DIRECTED & DESIGNED BY LAKE SIMONS GIVE NEW LIFE TO PUPPET THEATER
A witty & magical Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saëns returns over the holidays The Bremen Town Band with a new score by Courtney Bryan premieres in May
AN ESPECIALLY WIDERANGING JAZZ SERIES VIJAY IYER TRIO
ALICIA OLATUJA SEXTET
AMBROSE AKINMUSIRE QUARTET
SFJAZZ COLLECTIVE: A Tribute to Miles Davis
YEAR 5 OF POP-UP CONCERTS WITH AUDIENCE ONSTAGE
"Close to the music" takes on new meaning with this spontaneous
& free series of hour-long early-evening concerts
THE 5th ANNUAL MORNINGSIDE LIGHTS:
Concept and direction by Processional Arts Workshop
Miller throws open the doors again this fall, inviting neighbors to join lantern- making and music workshops culminating in a spectacular illuminated parade
Miller's 4th Site-Specific Mural Commission
Miller Theatre commissions artist Tomo Mori
to transform Miller's lobby into a 360-degree artwork
In collaboration with The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Gallery
Miller Theatre has been heralded by The New York Times for its “transformative impact on musical culture in New York City” and exerting an “oversize influence on tastes and trends." Indeed, many credit Miller Theatre with pioneering the kind of programming that bigger organizations now emulate.
Since becoming Executive Director in 2009, Melissa Smey has continued Miller Theatre's tradition of adventurous programming, while steering Miller toward new territory— welcoming a stylistically eclectic mix of international composers and ensembles (this year Lei Liang, Beat Furrer, Johannes Maria Staud, Klas Torstensson, Ensemble SON as well as local mainstays Steve Reich and John Zorn); expanding Miller's leadership in community engagement (PopUp Concerts, Morningside Lights, public murals in Miller's lobby commissioned from cutting-edge artists, and new family productions on a very high level: Carnival of the Animals and The Bremen Town Band); and recalibrating the gender imbalance in classical music by showcasing the work of female composers and artists (this year Zosha Di Castri, Misato Mochizuki, Courtney Bryan, Alicia Olatuja), a development hailed by The New Yorker and The New York Times.
Smey is very excited about her Jazz series this season, which culminates with the only NY stop for the SFJAZZ Collective’s Miles Davis tribute, and is proud to present the story- based New York recital debut of Tim Munro, the formidable and fabulous former flutist for eighth blackbird. Some of the best new-music ensembles in the world have a home at Miller Theatre (JACK Quartet, Either/Or, Ensemble Signal, Yarn/Wire, Ekmeles, loadbang), as do early music favorites Tallis Scholars, Stile Antico, Orlando Consort, and New York Polyphony.
“Miller Theatre’s 2016-17 season celebrates a multiplicity of voices from a wide range of genres, backgrounds, and time periods. We start in September with a double bill in honor of Steve Reich’s 80th birthday and continue with seven Composer Portraits from Japan, Sweden, Canada, Austria, and the U.S., including an all-star Portrait of John Zorn. The multi-talented flutist Tim Munro makes his New York recital debut at Miller in November, with an incredibly creative contemporary program combining music, storytelling, and song. Our family programming will also grow, with a new production of The Bremen Town Band, featuring an original score I’ve commissioned from composer Courtney Bryan. In early music, we’ll help New York Polyphony celebrate their 10th year and shine a spotlight on the under- appreciated composer Loyset Compère. I’m also excited to welcome several new artists appearing in next season’s Jazz series, including trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and vocalist Alicia Olatuja. As always at Miller, there’s no shortage of new and exciting programming to experience, whatever your interests.”
"Refreshingly creative and smart."
"Immersive, cutting-edge work that sets the bar high."
— THE NEW YORKER
“Miller Theatre remains as vital as ever. Under the auspices of Melissa Smey, the venue consistently features programming that’s forward-thinking and fresh.”
— TIME OUT NEW YORK
“Miller Theatre continues to be the leading destination for new music and classics of modernism.”
— NEW YORK CLASSICAL REVIEW
"It’s exhilarating to experience Smey’s seasons,
which appear to become more innovative and appealing every year.”
— DON'T MISS IT
"Melissa Smey, the Miller’s executive director, ensures that this is the rare place in music in which female and male composers get truly equal attention."
— THE NEW YORK TIMES
“For aficionados of contemporary music, Columbia University's Composer Portraits series in the Miller Theatre is an annual source of delight.”
— OPERA NEWS
Steve Reich turns 80 this fall, and Miller Theatre joins with concert halls around the world to celebrate this iconic American composer. Rather than reprising the composer’s classics, Miller partners with regular Reich collaborators Ensemble Signal to spotlight two large-ensemble late works deserving of greater attention and that have never been programmed together before: the Daniel Variations and You Are (Variations). The former is a moving tribute to journalist Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped in Pakistan in 2002; the latter, an energizing meditation on the self—its essence, its relationship to the divine, and how it comes to life in our actions.
Until recently, Tim Munro was the charismatic flutist of Grammy-winning new music group eighth blackbird. In this evocative program, he makes his New York solo debut, combining music, storytelling, and song with dreamy lighting and a bevy of new works. The featured composers (Christopher Cerrone, Brett Dean, Kate Soper, Malin Bång, Dave Reminick, Tom Johnson) run the gamut stylistically, from post-punk guitarist to literature buff to Pulitzer Prize finalist. Through their works, Munro explores the time between sleep and waking, that fertile moment when we remember and tell our tales, before drifting off to dreaming.
A cornerstone of Miller's programming, these "endlessly important" (The New York Times) and “indispensable” (The New Yorker) eveninglength musical profiles explore the work of a single composer in depth, offering contemporary artists a space to explore, experiment, and make significant contributions to the field. This season, seven composers from Japan, Sweden, Austria, and the U.S. will participate in onstage discussions as part of their Portrait, offering the audience unique insight into their inspiration behind the notes. Zachary Woolfe writes in The New York Times: “Miller Theater’s marquee series offers immersions into a single composer’s work at a time. Melissa Smey, the theater’s executive director, gives alltoorare attention to female artists.”
As prolific as he is provocative, John Zorn returns to Composer Portraits with five new pieces, all slated to receive their world premiere performances. A dream team of new music superstars comes together to give voice to Zorn’s newest creations, affirming once more the depth and breadth of his musical palette, which draws on punk, jazz, klezmer, classical, and other genres—spanning continents and centuries.
Blue Strategem (2016) - world premiere
Cagliostro (2016) - world premiere
Candlemas Eve (2016) - world premiere
Freud (2016) - world premiere
Obscure Objects of Desire (2016) - world premiere
Il n’y a plus de firmament (2014)
As a student, Lei Liang attended class mere blocks from the Tiananmen Square protests; ever since, he has viewed art as a way to counteract violence and find freedom. His compositions pay homage to his Chinese culture while drawing on Western counterpoints. This Portrait, performed by several of Liang’s West Coast colleagues, explores opposing forces, bringing together light and dark, paradise and inferno.
New work for loadbang (2016) - world premiere, Miller Theatre cocommission
Luminous (2014) - New York premiere
Serashi Fragments (2005)
“Imagine music on a spectrum,” says Zosha Di Castri. “Sometimes it will be absolute music, sometimes it will be more static and reflective.” Pianists, percussionists, and vocalists come together to explore the rich spectrum within Di Castri’s work. Two world premiere performances—including Near Mute Force for both ensembles’ full complement of musicians—are among the evening’s repertoire.
New work for Yarn/Wire (2016) - world premiere
Near Mute Force (2016) - U.S. premiere
The Animal after Whom Other Animals are Named (2013)
The Thinking Eye (2006)
Swiss-Austrian composer Beat Furrer is a master of form and texture. His 40-year career spans forays into opera, chamber works, music theater, orchestral pieces, and everything in between. This program focuses on more intimate works from the last two decades, two of them never before heard in the U.S. Richard Carrick conducts Either/Or in Furrer’s nuanced explorations of percussion, bass flute, piano, strings, and more.
New work for clarinet and string quartet (2016) – U.S. premiere
linea dell’orizzonte (2012)
Ira – Arca (2012) – U.S. premiere
Shaped by studies in Tokyo and Paris, composer Misato Mochizuki’s music integrates Occidental tradition, the Asiatic connection to breath, and a fascination with ritual. Equally active in Japan and Europe, she has been featured at the Louvre and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall. Mochizuki has just begun to make inroads in New York, and Miller is pleased to introduce her work more broadly through this Portrait, building on her relationship with local ensemble Yarn/Wire.
Le monde des ronds et des carrés (2015)
Intermezzi III (2010)
Terres rouges (2005-06) – U.S. premiere
MoebiusRing (2003) – U.S. premiere
Au bleu bois (1998) – U.S. premiere
Johannes Staud takes his inspiration from many sources—literature, political events, even streets he’s walked down. He is a transformer of mediums, taking meaningful words and images and creating music. Staud pays homage to Pissarro, Debussy, and the city of London in the fragile and impressionistic Sydenham Music. Another standout on the program is Towards a Brighter Hue, a nod to the wooden sculptures of British artist David Nash. Ensemble Signal guides audiences through this synaesthetic evening of truly inspired music.
Wheat, not oats, dear. I’m afraid. (2015)
Par Ici! (2011) – U.S. premiere
Sydenham Music (2007) – New York premiere
Towards a Brighter Hue (2004)
Black Moon (1998)
Sweden’s Ensemble SON teams up with Miller favorites Either/Or to introduce Klas Torstensson, one of Scandanavia’s most important voices, to New Yorkers. Championed by conductor Peter Eötvös and celebrated at new music festivals in Huddersfield, Vienna, and Darmstadt, the composer has explored Nordic history and themes in works inspired by the polar seas and Arctic expeditions of yore. This program highlights chamber works, including a new octet composed especially for this occasion, for Either/Or and SON.
Double Quartet (2016) – world premiere
Sönerna (2016) – U.S. premiere
No slash (2016) – U.S. premiere
Elliott likes bebop (2016) – U.S. premiere
Major support for Composer Portraits is provided by
the National Endowment for the Arts and the Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts
Miller Theatre's "essential" (The New Yorker) Early Music series has been lauded as a leader in the scene. This year’s series highlights many of the undisputed masters of the genre as Miller welcomes back The Tallis Scholars, Stile Antico, Orlando Consort, and New York Polyphony. The result is gloriously transcendent music of the Renaissance, brought to life by some of the best choral singers from around the world.
Britain’s lauded Renaissance choir returns with a seasonal program focused on classic texts about the Christmas story, as interpreted and set to music by some of the lesser-known masters of early music. Josquin, Victoria, and Taverner mingle with Franco-Flemish and Mexican contemporaries, in a program that celebrates the wonder and magic of the season.
Since forming a decade ago, New York Polyphony has become an admired addition to the international early music scene—and a regular on Miller’s series. Together with several special guests, they take on a landmark work: Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli, or Pope Marcellus Mass, a stalwart of many a music appreciation curriculum, and a splendid example of polyphony that is both technically impeccable and glorious to hear. They round out the program with a new work by Moody, a protégé of respected choral composer John Tavener.
Each of the 12 members of Stile Antico has chosen one musical gem drawn from five centuries of glorious repertoire, including Orlando Gibbons’ uplifting “O Clap Your Hands,” William Byrd’s exciting “Vigilate,” and works by the prolific Thomas Tallis. For those new to the repertoire, the program provides an engaging introduction to Renaissance vocal music; for longtime fans, it’s a chance to hear some old favorites.
The name Loyset Compère is not as familiar as Dufay or Josquin, but many—the Orlando Consort among them—believe that this Franco-Flemish composer deserves a place amongst the masters of the 15th century. His early Renaissance compositions combine a sophisticated technical mind with an ear for sheer beauty. This program makes the case for Compère with a wide variety of works: his stately “Magnificat,” moving motets, and a range of secular songs, from laugh-out-loud bawdy to exquisitely romantic.
Jazz was built on the confluence of musical cultures. This year’s series highlights its continued evolution, with artists whose backgrounds and influences span hiphop, classical, and international musical traditions.
Vijay Iyer is no stranger to Miller audiences: he performed with Craig Taborn a few years back, and his works for classical players have also been featured on Miller’s stage. This time around, Miller showcases his longstanding trio. For over a decade, the group has taken inspiration from everything from electronica to Indian classical to the jazz legend Thelonious Monk, mashing up genres and styles to create surprising and invigorating new jazz. “The logic of repurposing has always been part of what the trio does,” says Iyer.
Called “one of the most thrilling vocalists of today” (JazzTimes), Alicia Olatuja has an incredible range, fueled by her fluency in multiple world music styles, classical studies at Manhattan School of Music, and an undeniable, ingrained musicality. She wowed audiences when she sang at Barack Obama’s 2013 inauguration, and her powerful vocals have received unanimous acclaim. Her Miller debut is not to be missed.
Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire brings his "unique spark" (The New Yorker) to Miller. Akinmusire’s politically conscious compositions connect with jazz’s legacy as a vehicle for social change, while exploring contemporary issues. His genre-defying collaborations with artists as diverse as rapper Kendrick Lamar, vocalist Becca Stevens, and the Osso String Quartet have also served as inspiration. In this show, he leads his quartet through an emotionally rich narrative, combining thoughtful composition with soulful improvisation.
Some of the biggest names on the jazz circuit—including Miller audience favorites Warren Wolf and Miguel Zenón—come together to form the inimitable collective SFJAZZ. This touring program celebrates one of the genre’s greats: Miles Davis (this is the only New York date for the tour). The band’s explorations of this rich repertoire make it feel fresh once more, as revelatory and innovative as it sounded when Miles issued his first records back in the 1940s and 50s.
Miller's “exquisitely detailed, unselfconsciously playful” (Lucid Culture) Carnival of the Animals gets a new sibling this spring, with the introduction of a second original family production— a modern retelling of the Town Musicians of Bremen. Miller welcomes this new work combining live music and imaginative puppetry—serving an evergrowing audience of all ages.
This past season, Miller inaugurated a new holiday tradition: Carnival of the Animals, in a surreally playful production designed and directed by Lake Simons that brought to life Saint-Saëns’ musical “salute to feathers, fur, and fins.” Theaterscene described it as "splendidly witty, sometimes poignant and sometimes thrilling, and always inventive...It was magical." Everyday objects take on new lives as lions, elephants, and birds, through the incredible work of puppeteers. Ogden Nash's clever verses plus top-notch musical performances by some of the city’s best players make this an extraordinary hour-long show for all ages.
The Grimm fairytale of the town musicians of Bremen tells of a ragtag band of four farm animals, nearing the end of their useful lives as beasts of burden and longing for an encore career as performers. Audiences join the quartet—a donkey, a dog, a cat, and a rooster—as they set out on the road to Bremen in this brand new work of puppet theater, featuring an original score by Courtney Bryan. Equally at home with jazz and classical styles, Bryan pens a score than transposes the tale to today, while director and designer Lake Simons animates the lovable creatures and their surprising, hilarious, and touching tale of friendship.
Public art, participatory workshops, free concerts—open to all. These ongoing programs are Miller's way of saying ‘thank you’ to its community, and welcoming newcomers into the fold. They are the perfect opportunity to come check out Miller Theatre for the first time, or introduce a friend.
For 100 years, the Pulitzer Prizes have celebrated the great writers and artists of our time. This fall, makers and marchers participating in Miller Theatre's community-created lantern procession Morningside Lights will have a chance to literally illuminate favorite passages by great poets who have received this unique honor over the past century. The public can learn more or sign up to create their own literary lantern at www.morningside-lights.com.
Morningside Lights is co-produced by the Arts Initiative at Columbia University; this year’s theme was developed in collaboration with Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and their concurrent exhibition celebrating the Pulitzer Prize centennial.
Japanese-born, Harlem-based artist Tomo Mori creates works that interact dynamically with public space, encircling the viewer with swirls of color and texture. Composed of paint and many small cut canvas pieces or stamps, her mosaic-like compositions evoke the natural world—a large organism composed of many smaller parts. Her site-specific piece for the Miller lobby joins a robust catalog of public works, including exhibitions commissioned by the MTA, Laundromat Project, and others. Mori's Miller Lobby mural will be the fourth mural created for the space, produced in collaboration with the Wallach Art Gallery on campus.
Giving new meaning to the phrase “close to the music,” Miller’s free and fun series, PopUp Concerts, returns for a fourth season. "An audience of the young and the brave" (The New York Times) sits right on stage for these hour-long early-evening performances by today’s best musicians and ensembles. These spontaneous concerts allow artists to explore new ideas in a comfortable yet unique setting. Onstage seating is first-come, first-served.
“"Miller Theater’s PopUp series (free entry, free beer) continues to outdo itself.”
— THE NEW YORK TIMES
“Renegade musicians and free beer help unleash the fun side of modernism.”
— TIME OUT NEW YORK
Major support for Pop-Up Concerts is provided by
the National Endowment for the Arts and the Dow Jones Foundation
Pop-Up Concerts Series Sponsor