Meredith Monk brings artistry, inspiration to CIM

February 25, 2014

In his review “Vocalist Meredith Monk conjures fascinating, diverse world in recital at CIM,” Plain Dealer writer Zachary Lewis offered praise and adulation for Monk’s “mesmerizing performances of her own key work” as she took the stage for the final concert in CIM’s 2013-2014 Mixon Hall Masters Series on Friday, Feb. 21.

Meredith Monk, Mixon Hall Masters Series | February 21, 2014

“When Monk opens her mouth to sing, only she – a most worthy candidate for CIM’s Mixon Hall Masters Series – truly knows what will emerge,” Lewis wrote of the groundbreaking singer/composer. “Only she, too, understands how she does what she does.”

While that may be true, Monk is neither selfish nor secretive about her musical vision or gift. She generously shares her musical insights and techniques with others. She demonstrated just that on Saturday, Feb. 22, when she led a workshop with 25 aspiring opera singers at CIM.

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During a 2+ hour session, students followed Monk through a series of movement and voice exercises. As down to earth as one might imagine, the artist spent time not merely explaining or demonstrating techniques, but leading activities that integrated vocalizations with body movements. The session began with simple warm up exercises, involving walking with energy and projecting that energy to the unseen audience. Walking gave way to intentional pauses and personalized gestures. Finally the singers added sounds to their series of movements; this could include words but didn’t have to, which seemed to make it a more adventurous experiment for the participants.

At one point, Monk explained that, with the evolution of opera in recent years including greater and more intense integration of action and acting, opera singers may be called upon by a director to walk, dance or even run across the stage while singing. This is a stark contrast to more traditional staging that might have a singer move to her mark, sing an aria and then begin the action again.

Monk wrapped up the class by teaching the group the beginning elements of Panda Chant II, a section from a science fiction opera by Meredith Monk and Ping Chong titled The Games (YouTube offers many fine examples of the work), followed by a short but inspiring Q&A. She conducted the latter while casually sitting on the floor with the students she’d just gotten to know.

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You can read Zachary Lewis’ review of Monk’s concert in its entirety on Cleveland.com

Cool Cleveland also has published a glowing review of Monk’s performance; visit
Meredith Monk Transfixes Audiences @cim_edu” and “Meredith Monk makes for Happy Listening at cim_edu” both on CoolCleveland.com

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