Relatively revolutionary | Arts & Culture

Relatively revolutionary

Relatively revolutionary

Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Sophia Kruz, a U-M alumna.

By Truly Render

Widely recognized as one of the greatest creative achievements of the 20th century, “Einstein on the Beach” will be remounted at the University of Michigan in what has become one of the most anticipated American productions of the past decade, drawing attention of music critics from around the world.

The University Musical Society (UMS) is a proud co-commissioner of the 2012 production of contemporary art cornerstone Einstein on the Beach, An Opera in Four Acts by Philip Glass (photo left) and Robert Wilson (photo below).

This historic production will be remounted in Ann Arbor’s Power Center for the Performing Arts (121 Fletcher Street) on Friday, January 20 and Saturday, January 21 at 7 p.m. with a matinee performance on Sunday, January 22 at 2 p.m.

“Einstein on the Beach” was first produced in Avignon, France in 1976, with subsequent performances in Europe and at the Metropolitan Opera. This rarely performed and revolutionary work was an international breakthrough for Robert Wilson and Philip Glass and radically and indelibly broadened what audiences might expect from opera, theater, or performance art.

Einstein on the Beach” defies the rules of conventional opera. Instead of a traditional orchestral arrangement, Glass chose to compose the work for the synthesizers, woodwinds, and voices of the Philip Glass Ensemble. Non-narrative in form, the work uses a series of powerful recurrent images shown in juxtaposition with abstract dance sequences created by American choreographer Lucinda Childs and constructed in the classical principle of theme and variation.

The opera consists of four acts that are connected by a series of short scenes or “knee plays.” The performance lasts nearly five hours and has no traditional intermissions; instead, the audience is invited to wander in and out at liberty.

John Rockwell, who reviewed the 1976 world premiere for The New York Times, stated: “Einstein was like nothing I had ever encountered…Its very elusiveness radiated richly, like some dark star whose effects we can only feel…”Einstein on the Beach,” perhaps like Einstein himself, transcended time. It’s not (just) an artifact of its era, it’s timeless…an experience to cherish for a lifetime.”

The production’s only two revivals to date, in 1984 and 1992, proved equally enthralling to audiences and critics. Although every performance of the work has attracted a sold-out audience, and the music has been recorded and released, few people have actually experienced Einstein” live. Now, nearly four decades after it was first performed and 20 years since its last production, “Einstein on the Beach” will be reconstructed for a major international tour, including the first North American presentations ever held outside of New York City.

The Ann Arbor 2012 preview performances of Einstein on the Beach mark the first time — and likely only time — that this production will be performed in the Midwest. As a co-commissioner of this revival, the University Musical Society (UMS) will host the entire “Einstein on the Beach” company for an intensive three-week technical rehearsal residency leading up to the preview performances.

“Einstein on the Beach” launches the UMS 11/12 Pure Michigan® Renegade Series, a 10-week examination of innovation and experimentation in the performing arts that includes 10 performances and a robust line-up of public talks, screenings, and educational events. Details on these related activities are included at the bottom of this release.

For tickets or additional information, contact the University Musical Society at 734-764-2538 or online at www.ums.org.

Tickets may also be purchased in person at the League Ticket Office (911 North University Avenue).  UMS Ticket Office hours: Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., closed Sunday.

Einstein on the Beach was the first collaboration between Glass and Wilson. For the new production, they are working with a number of their longtime collaborators, including Lucinda Childs, who will serve as choreographer, as she did in 1984 and 1992. All of these artists are now in their 70s, and the production will be a cornerstone of Glass’s 75th birthday year (he turns 75 on January 31, 2012). They are committed to passing on the work to a new generation, and so are recruiting younger artists for the creative team and cast.

Philip Glass shared his enthusiasm about the production: “For Bob and me, the 2012 revival of Einstein on the Beach will be a most significant event, since in all likelihood, this will be the last time that we will be together and able to work on the piece. For audiences, few of whom have experienced Einstein apart from audio recordings, this tour will be a chance finally to see this seminal work.

“In this production, my composition will remain consistent with the 1976 original. The technology of theater staging and lighting has improved to such an extent that it will be interesting to see how Bob uses these innovations to realize his original vision.

“Finally, without the tremendous commitment, stamina and ingenuity of Linda Brumbach’s Pomegranate Arts team, and the commissioning partners she has brought together to support this effort, this final revival would not be taking place at all. For them I am deeply grateful.”

Robert Wilson commented, “Philip and I have been always been surprised by the impact that the opera had and has. I am particularly excited about this revival, as we are planning to re-envision Einstein with a new generation of performers, some of whom were not even born when Einstein had its world premiere.

“Aside from New York, Einstein on the Beach has never been seen in any of the cities currently on our tour, and I am hoping that other cities might still be added. I am very curious to see how, after nearly 40 years, it will be received by a 21st-century audience.

I am very grateful to Linda Brumbach and my manager Jörn Weisbrodt for believing in this revival from the first moment and making this dream come true in the new millennium.”

Linda Brumbach, Director of Pomegranate Arts and the Executive Producer of the 2012 Einstein on the Beach said, “Einstein on the Beach is one of the most important operas of our lifetime. It has achieved canonical, even mythic, status, and yet so few people have had the opportunity to see it. It is a gift to work with artists that have such a singular vision as Philip Glass, Robert Wilson and Lucinda Childs, especially on this monumental production.

I’m grateful for the heroic, committed and adventurous international commissioning partners and for the generous support of the Byrd Hoffman Watermill Foundation, Chuck Close, Douglas Gordon, Frank Gehry and Robert Wilson.”

Produced by Pomegranate Arts, Inc., the 2012 production of Einstein on the Beach, An Opera in Four Acts was commissioned by the University Musical Society of the University of Michigan; BAM; the Barbican, London; Cal Performances University of California, Berkeley; Luminato, Toronto Festival of Arts and Creativity; De Nederlandse Opera/The Amsterdam Music Theatre; and Opéra et Orchestre National de Montpellier Languedoc-Rousillon.

Quick Facts

Pure Michigan® Renegade Series Title Sponsor: Pure Michigan®

Residency Sponsor: The Dahmann Campus Inn

Sponsored by: U-M Health System and Mary and Brian Campbell, in memory of Herb Amster.

Hosted by: the Subir and Malini Chowdhury Foundation, Herbert and Junia Doan Foundation, Susan and Richard Gutow, Carl and Charlene Herstein, David and Phyllis Herzig, Jerry and Dale Kolins, Stephen and Barbara Munk, and Prue and Ami Rosenthal.

Funded in part by: The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Art Works.

Media Partners: WDET 101.9 FM, Michigan Radio, Detroit Jewish News, Ann Arbor’s 107one, and Between the Lines.

Philip Glass Ensemble’s previous UMS appearances: Friday, January 20, 2012 will mark the Philip Glass Ensemble’s sixth UMS appearance. The ensemble previously performed in 1995 (La Belle et La Bete: An Opera for Ensemble and Film); 1999 (Monsters of Grace: A Digital Opera in Three Dimensions); and 2001 (Dracula, Shorts, and Koyaanisqatsi).

Additional information: www.pomegranatearts.com

Einstein on the Beach

an Opera in Four acts

Friday, January 20, 7 p.m.

Saturday, January 21, 7 p.m.

Sunday, January 22, 2 p.m.

Power Center (121 Fletcher Street)

Tickets start at $18

Media Partners: WDET 101.9 FM, Michigan Radio, Detroit Jewish News, Ann Arbor’s 107one, and Between the Lines.

FREE RELATED EVENTS

UMS Night School: Explore RENEGADE. U-M Prof. Mark Clague leads a community-focused course, modeled on a college-level course that he is offering to U-M Students in Winter 2012, to help patrons prepare for the performing arts change-makers and thought-leaders included on UMS’s 11/12 Pre Michigan® Renegade series.  These classes are 90 minutes long and include a presentation by a genre expert, an interactive exercise, a takeaway reading, and discussion. The class is held on seven Mondays — January 9; February 6 & 20; March 12, 19, & 26 — at 7 p.m. in the Ann Arbor District Library’s Multipurpose Room (343 S. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor). Interested participants may attend all of the sessions or only those that interest them the most.

Penny W. Stamps Speakers Series: Philip Glass & Robert Wilson. Launching the Winter 2012 season of the Penny W. Stamps Speakers Series, the legendary creators of Einstein on the Beach, director Robert Wilson and composer Philip Glass, discuss the history of and creative process behind their groundbreaking collaboration. Sunday, January 15 at 4 p.m. in the Michigan Theater (603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor).

Producers Talk: The Business of Einstein on the Beach. At least a decade in the making, the 2012 remount of Einstein on the Beach represents a tenacious and remarkable effort on the part of its producing team.  Producer Linda Brumbach and Associate Producers Alisa Regas and Kaleb Kilkenny of the New York-based Pomegranate Arts production company give their own behind-the-scenes look at what it took to bring such an extraordinary project to life, and why they chose Ann Arbor as the place it all begins.  This event is free and open to the public. Wednesday, January 18, 6 p.m. at the U-M Ross School of Business, Wyly Hall (Room W2740 – 724 E. University, Ann Arbor).

Saturday Morning Physics: Einstein as a Cultural Figure. Einstein on the Beach composer Philip Glass joins a panel of special guests to ponder the cultural significance of Einstein.  Glass is joined by Sean Carroll, a theoretical physicist from the California Institute of Technology who has been featured in Wired magazine, The New York Times, and on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” and University of Chicago cosmology scholar Michael Turner who co-authored The Early Universe.  U-M faculty member Fred Adams moderates the discussion. Saturday, January 21 at 10:30 a.m. in Rackham Auditorium (915 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor).

UMS RENEGADE on Film Series. This three-part winter film series explores artists who have created new frontiers. All screenings are open to the public; unless noted, all screenings are free.

Absolute Wilson

(2006, Katharina Otto-Bernstein, 105 min.)

Tuesday, January 10, 7:00 pm

U-M Museum of Art Stern Auditorium (525 S. State St, Ann Arbor)

Absolute Wilson chronicles the epic life, times, and creative genius of theater director Robert Wilson.

The Legend of Leigh Bowery (with director Q&A)

(2002, Charles Atlas, 60 min.)

Monday, February 13, 7:00 pm

U-M Museum of Art Stern Auditorium (525 S. State St, Ann Arbor)

Renegade filmmaker Charles Atlas (who worked extensively with the late choreographer Merce Cunningham)

introduces his 2002 documentary The Legend of Leigh Bowery. Artist, designer, performer, and provocateur Leigh

Bowery was one of the notorious figures of the 1980s club scene.  Co-presented with the U-M Institute for the

Humanities.

Helicopter String Quartet

(1995, Frank Sheffer, 81 min.)

Wednesday, March 7, 7:00 pm

Michigan Theater (603 E. Liberty)

Tickets: $10/$7/$5; purchase at www.aafilmfest.org

In one of the most certifiably eccentric musical events of the late 20th century, German composer Karlheinz

Stockhausen designed and executed the performance: four string quartet members playing an original piece by

Stockhausen in four separate helicopters, all flying simultaneously.  Co-presented with the Ann Arbor Film Festival

in partnership with the Michigan Theater, in collaboration with the U-M Museum of Art.

*            *            *            *            *

UMS Ticket Office

734-764-2538

Outside the 734 area code, call toll-free 800-221-1229.

(These numbers should be published.)

http://www.ums.org

Mail or fax orders to:

University Musical Society

Burton Memorial Tower

Ann Arbor, MI, 48109-1011

Fax: 734-647-1171

Special discounts for groups! Call 734-763-3100

Press information/Photos: Contact Truly Render, 734-647-4020 [DO NOT PUBLISH]

Television crews and still-photographers are welcome to cover UMS events; however, please provide 48 hours notice so that we may secure permission from the artists and alert the production staff.  Please contact Truly Render at 734-647-4020 to arrange media coverage.

Media Inquiries / Further Information:

Truly Render, University Musical Society

734-647-4020

trender@umich.edu

www.ums.org/news

–30–

ARTIST BIOGRAPHIES

Philip Glass has had an extraordinary and unprecedented impact upon the musical and intellectual life of his times through his operas, his symphonies, his compositions for his own ensemble, and his wide-ranging collaborations with artists ranging from Twyla Tharp to Allen Ginsberg, Woody Allen to David Bowie.

The operas—including Satyagraha, Akhnaten, and The Voyage, among many others—play throughout the world’s leading houses, and rarely to an empty seat. Glass has written music for experimental theater and for Academy Award-winning motion pictures such as The Hours and Martin Scorcese’s Kundun, while Koyaanisqatsi, his initial filmic landscape with Godfrey Reggio and the Philip Glass Ensemble, may be the most radical and influential mating of sound and vision since Fantasia. His associations, personal and professional, with leading rock, pop and international music artists date back to the 1960s, including the beginning of his collaborative relationship with artist Robert Wilson. Indeed, Glass is the first composer to win a wide, multi-generational audience in the opera house, the concert hall, the dance world, in film and in popular music simultaneously.

Glass was born in 1937 and grew up in Baltimore. He studied at the University of Chicago, The Juilliard School and in Aspen with Darius Milhaud. Finding himself dissatisfied with much of what then passed for modern music, he moved to Europe, where he studied with the legendary pedagogue Nadia Boulanger (who also taught Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, and Quincy Jones) and worked closely with the sitar virtuoso and composer Ravi Shankar. He returned to New York in 1967 and formed the Philip Glass Ensemble—seven musicians playing keyboards and a variety of woodwinds, amplified and fed through a mixer.

The new musical style that Glass was evolving was eventually dubbed “minimalism.” Glass himself never liked the term and preferred to speak of himself as a composer of “music with repetitive structures.” Much of his early work was based on the extended reiteration of brief, elegant melodic fragments that wove in and out of an aural tapestry. Or, to put it another way, it immersed a listener in a sort of sonic weather that twists, turns, surrounds, develops.

There has been nothing “minimalist” about his output. In the past 25 years, Glass has composed more than 20 operas, large and small; eight symphonies (with others already on the way); two piano concertos and concertos for violin, piano, timpani, and saxophone quartet and orchestra; soundtracks to films ranging from new scores for the stylized classics of Jean Cocteau to Errol Morris’s documentary about former defense secretary Robert McNamara; string quartets; and a growing body of work for solo piano and organ. He has collaborated with Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Yo-Yo Ma, and Doris Lessing, among many others. He presents lectures, workshops, and solo piano performances around the world, and continues to appear regularly with the Philip Glass Ensemble.

Robert Wilson has been described as “a towering figure in the world of experimental theater.” (The New York Times) His works integrate a wide variety of artistic media, combining movement, dance, lighting, furniture design, sculpture, music, and text into a unified whole. His images are aesthetically striking and emotionally charged, and his productions have earned the acclaim of audiences and critics worldwide. Wilson’s awards and honors include two Guggenheim Fellowship awards (1971 and 1980), the Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship award (1975), a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama (’86), the Golden Lion for sculpture from the Venice Biennale (1993), the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for lifetime achievement (1996), the Premio Europa award from Taormina Arte (1997), election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2000), the National Design Award for lifetime achievement (2001), and Commandeur des arts et des letters (2002), the Medal for Arts and Sciences of the city of Hamburg (2009), and the Hein Heckroth-Prize for Set Design (2009).

A native of Waco, Texas, Wilson was educated at the University of Texas and arrived in New York in 1963 to attend Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute. Soon thereafter Wilson set to work with his Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds and together with this school developed his first signature works, including King of Spain (1969), Deafman Glance (1970), The Life and Times of Joseph Stalin (1973), and A Letter for Queen Victoria (1974). Regarded as a leader in Manhattan’s burgeoning avant-garde, Wilson turned his attention to large-scale opera.

After Einstein on the Beach (1976) altered conventional notions of the form of opera, Wilson worked increasingly with European theaters and opera houses. In collaboration with internationally renowned writers and performers, Wilson created landmark original works that were featured regularly at the Festival d’Automne in Paris, the Schaubühne in Berlin, the Thalia Theater in Hamburg, and the Salzburg Festival. At the Schaubühne he created Death Destruction & Detroit (1979) and Death Destruction & Detroit II (1987); and at the Thalia he presented the groundbreaking musical works The Black Rider (1991) and Alice (1992). He has also applied his striking formal language to the operatic including Parsifal in Hamburg (1991) and Houston (1992), The Magic Flute (1991), Madame Butterfly (1993), Lohengrin at the Metropolitan Opera in New York (1998). Wilson recently completed an entirely new production, based on an epic poem from Indonesia, entitled I La Galigo, which toured extensively and appeared at the Lincoln Center Festival in the summer of 2005.

Wilson continues to direct revivals of his most celebrated productions, including The Black Rider in London, San Francisco, and Sydney, Australia; The Temptation of St. Anthony in New York and Barcelona; Erwartung in Berlin; Madama Butterfly at the Bolshoi Opera in Moscow, the LA Opera, and Het Muziektheater in Amsterdam; and Wagner’s Ring cycle at Le Chatelet in Paris. For the Berliner Ensemble he created two highly acclaimed recent productions: Brecht’s Dreigroschenoper and Shakespeare’s Sonnets with music by Rufus Wainwright. Both productions received invitations to the Spoleto Festival and travel internationally. Wilson directs all Monteverdi Operas for the opera houses of La Scala in Milan and the Palais Garnier in Paris.

Wilson’s practice is firmly rooted in the fine arts, and his drawings, furniture designs, and installations have been shown in museums and galleries internationally. Extensive retrospectives have been presented at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. He has mounted installations at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, London’s Clink Street Vaults and the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao. His extraordinary tribute to Isamu Noguchi has been exhibited most recently at the Seattle Art Museum and his installation of the Guggenheim’s Giorgio Armani retrospective traveled to London, Rome and Tokyo. In 2007, Paula Cooper Gallery and Phillips de Pury & Co in New York held exhibitions of his most recent artistic venture, the VOOM Portraits, with subjects including Gao Xingjian, Winona Ryder, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Brad Pitt. The works have been shown at the Tribeca Film Festival (2006), the Montreal Film Festival (2008) and in galleries and

museums in Los Angeles, Naples, Moscow, Singapore, Graz, Milan, and Hamburg and will continue to tour

internationally over the next years. His drawings, prints, videos and sculpture are held in private collections and museums throughout the world. He is represented by the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York City.

Each summer Wilson hosts students and professional artists from around the world at the International Summer Arts Program at the Watermill Center in eastern Long Island, an interdisciplinary performance laboratory. In July of 2006, the Watermill Center dedicated a brand new building on its grounds, including rehearsal spaces, dormitories and residences, and inaugurated a year-round programming schedule.

Lucinda Childs began her career as choreographer and performer in 1963 as an original member of the Judson Dance Theater in New York. After forming her own dance company in 1973, Ms. Childs collaborated with Robert Wilson and Philip Glass on the opera Einstein on the Beach, participating as leading performer and choreographer, for which she was awarded a Village Voice Obie. She also participated in the revivals of the opera in 1984, and 1992 and Ms. Childs’ choreography for the opera will be reconstructed for the 2012 revival of Einstein on the Beach.

Since 1979, Ms. Childs has collaborated with a number of composers and designers, including John Adams and Frank Gehry, on a series of large-scale productions. The first of these was DANCE choreographed in 1979 with music by Philip Glass, and a film/decor by Sol LeWitt, for which Ms. Childs was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. DANCE was revived in July, 2009 for Bard’s Summer Festival, and DANCE has toured in the Fall of 2009 with a season at the Joyce Theatre in New York with additional touring in the United States and Europe in 2010 – 2011.

Since 1992, Ms. Childs has worked extensively in the domain of opera, in Luc Bondy’s production of Richard Strauss’s Salome, which she choreographed for the Salzburg Festival, and in 1999, which was revived for La Scala in Milan in March, 2007. In addition, she choreographed Bondy’s production of Verdi’s Macbeth for the Scottish Opera and in 1995, and Peter Stein’s De Nederlandse Opera’s production of Moise Et Aron. That same year Ms. Childs directed her first opera, Mozart’s Zadie, for La Monnaie in Brussels. In 2001, Ms. Childs choreographed Los Angeles Opera’s production of Wagner’s Lohengrin, conducted by Kent Nagano. In 2002, Ms. Childs directed Gluck’s Orfedo Ed Euridice for the Scottish Opera and in 2003, Ms. Childs was invited to return to Los Angeles Opera to choreograph and direct a new production of Orfeo Ed Eurdice. Ms. Childs also choreographed Roland Aeschlimann’s production of Wagner’s Parsifal, which premiered at the Grand Theatre de Genève in 2004, and most recently she choreographed John Adams new opera, Doctor Atomic, which premiered in 2005 with the San Francisco Opera, and was revived by the Holland Festival, and at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2007. Ms. Childs will choreograph and direct Vivaldi’s opera Farnace for the Opera du Rhin to premiere in April 2012, and Ms Childs has been named principal choreographer for the Ballet du Rhin.

In June, 2009, the French and German Arts television program ARTE broadcast the film documentary by Patrick Bensard of La Cinémathèque de la Danse, which features Ms. Childs in rehearsal with Mikhail Baryshnikov, and the Ballet de L’Opéra du Rhin in New York, London, and Paris, and includes interviews with Mikhail Baryshnikov, Philip Glass, Anna Kisselgoff, Yvonne Rainer, Susan Sontag, and Robert Wilson.

In 2001 Ms Childs received Life Time Achievement Bessie Award, and in 2004 Ms. Childs was appointed by the French Government to the rank of Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.