Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Monk Moments

Another great NYC moment - in an inspired anti-Superbowl move, The Whitney programmed a live Meredith Monk marathon for Sunday afternoon. Accompanied by my good friend Alan Emtage, I first viewed the Calder show featuring early wire works from Paris. We marveled at the dexterity of the fluid lines as well as some of the anatomical detailing.

Then followed a magical couple of hours listening to Monk and her collaborators. There was choral work, a piece for string quartet, something more akin to poetry and then a finale composed of operatic songs from the Atlas cycle.

The event carried a strong European sense for me. The music played out all around the room, moving in a circular direction from piece to piece, across a sea of black clad people seated on black folding chairs. There were mikes and stands and wires running everywhere - beautifully disorganized. The walls were bare and I found myself focusing on the ceiling, which is a honeycomb of concrete that embodies the heavy aesthetic of brutalism. As the beauty of the music bounced at me from the ugliness above, I was reminded of other such sublime moments at ugly yet serviceable venues for culture such as the South Bank Center, the Pompidou Center and the cinemas of Les Halles. Charming really.