MEREDITH MONK is a composer, singer, choreographer, filmmaker, and creator of new opera and music theater works. During a career spanning five decades, she has been acclaimed by audiences and critics as a major creative force in the performing arts, and a pioneer in what is now called "extended vocal technique". In 1968, Ms. Monk founded The House, a company dedicated to an interdisciplinary approach to performance. In 1978, she formed Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble to further expand her musical textures and forms. In addition to her groundbreaking vocal and music theater pieces (which include Dolmen Music, Book of Days, ATLAS, mercy and impermanence), she has created vital new repertoire for orchestra, chamber ensembles, and solo instruments. Her music has also appeared in motion pictures by Jean-Luc Godard and the Coen Brothers, among others. Celebrated internationally, her work has been presented by Lincoln Center Festival, Houston Grand Opera, London's Barbican Centre, and at major venues in countries from Brazil to Syria.
Monk's numerous honors include a MacArthur "Genius" Award, two Guggenheim Fellowships and induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. With a discography featuring more than a dozen recordings, mostly on ECM Records, her CD impermanence was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award. In 2005 her 40th year of performing and creating new music was celebrated by a four-hour marathon at Zankel Hall. Another marathon, Meredith Monk Music @ the Whitney, was presented at the Whitney Museum in 2009, followed by the site-specific Ascension Variations at the Guggenheim Museum, featuring over 120 performers. Monk's latest music theater work, Songs of Ascension, was performed at BAM's Next Wave Festival in October 2009 and won the Herald Angel Award at the 2010 Edinburgh International Festival. In March 2010, her newest commission, WEAVE for Two Voices, Chamber Orchestra and Chorus, had its world premiere with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, followed by an April 2010 West Coast premiere with the Los Angeles Master Chorale at Disney Hall. In June 2010, Monk premiered Education of the Girlchild Revisited in Paris, and recently completed an acclaimed run in New York. This year, Monk was also named one of NPR's 50 Great Voices and received a Courage Award for the Arts from Yoko Ono Lennon. Her latest CD, Songs of Ascension, was released on ECM in May 2011.
Portrait photo courtesy of Bunko
Turtle Dreams (Waltz), 1983, left to right: Ching Gonzalez, Meredith Monk, Theo Bleckmann, Katie Geissinger; photo courtesy Stephanie Berger