Meredith Monk

Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble performing at University of Virgina, 2006.
Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble performing at University of Virgina, 2006.

VOCAL ENSEMBLE

Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble consists of some of the finest and most adventurous singer/ instrumentalist/ performers active in new music. Founded in 1978 to further expand Monk's groundbreaking exploration of the human voice, the Ensemble has received multiple awards and critical acclaim, including a 2008 GRAMMY nomination for impermanence. Appearing in festivals, theaters and concert halls around the world, Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble can also be heard on numerous recordings on the ECM New Music Series label.

Members of Meredith Monk's vocal ensemble include:

Ellen Fisher
Sidney Chen
Katie Geissinger
Bohdan Hilash
John Hollenbeck
Bruce Rameker
Allison Sniffin
Theo Bleckmann
Tom Bogdan
Janis Brenner
Ching Gonzalez
Allison Easter
Lanny Harrison
Pablo Vela
Randall Wong

 

ELLEN FISHER

Ellen is a performance artist whose work combines gestural actions with visual components such as film, shadow play, objects and puppets. She began performing with Meredith Monk/The House in the ‘70's, in such works as The Plateau Series and Recent Ruins, and more recently has appeared in mercy and impermanence. Fisher's performance work is informed by ethnographic research in trance dance and rituals of South Asia, particularly Sri Lanka. Since 1981, she has toured solo work throughout Europe and the U.S., also directing large ensemble work reinterpreting myths and legends. Her film work, including documentaries, has been included in festivals throughout the world. She has received funding through the NEA, Art Matters Inc., Jerome Foundation, NYFA and the Asian Cultural Council, winning a 2004 Humanities Fellowship and a 2005 Travel Grant. Fisher continues to teach and collaborate with artists on community intergenerational and intercultural projects, both domestically and internationally.

SIDNEY CHEN

Sidney Chen began performing with Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble in 2012, in Realm Variations with the San Francisco Symphony. With the M6, a vocal sextet dedicated to Monk’s music that he co-founded, he has performed at the Whitney Museum, La MaMa ETC and Symphony Space in New York, and sang on the recording of Songs of Ascension. In 2006 he sang in Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall as part of the Meredith Monk Young Artists Concert. Based in San Francisco, Sidney has performed Monk’s unaccompanied solo works at Garden of Memory in Oakland, California. In 2009 he performed in Carnegie Hall's 45th-anniversary celebration of Terry Riley’s In C. He sings with and is the Artistic Advisor for Volti, San Francisco's renowned chamber choir dedicated to contemporary music. He performs throughout the San Francisco Bay Area as a bass soloist, and has recorded vocals for the Kronos Quartet.

KATIE GEISSINGER

Katie has been touring throughout the world with Meredith Monk since 1990, in concert and in pieces such as ATLAS(Houston Grand Opera), The Politics of Quiet (for which she is a “Bessie” recipient), mercy (with Ann Hamilton), and most recently,impermanence. She has also performed Facing North with fellow company member Theo Bleckmann in China's first-ever UNESCO concert. Katie was featured in, and recorded, Philip Glass and Robert Wilson's Einstein on the Beach, and premiered and recorded Bang on a Can's OBIE-winning The Carbon Copy Building, which recently played in Liverpool, England. Broadway credits include Coram Boy and Baz Luhrmann's production of La Boheme. She has also sung at BAM in Jonathan Miller's production of The St. Matthew Passion. Katie made her Carnegie Hall solo debut in Bach's Magnificat, and returned this spring to perform the role of the Witch in Honegger's King David. Upcoming performances include the role of Cyrus in Handel's Belshazzar, and several performances of The Rosenbach Company, a rock score by Mark Mulcahy set to the cartoons of Ben Katchor. Katie also sings cabaret, and has recent and future appearances at Feinstein's at the Regency in the show called Rendezvous. She has recorded for ECM, Canteloupe, and Elektra Nonesuch. Teaching experience ranges from choral work in Estonia and San Francisco to workshops at Naropa, Oberlin, the Experimental Theater Wing at NYU, Berklee, and the Carnegie Hall Professional Training Workshop.

BOHDAN HILASH

Clarinetist and multi-instrumentalist Bohdan Hilash joined the Vocal Ensemble in 2002. As part of his diverse career he has performed on four continents throughout the world as a performer of orchestral and chamber music, opera, contemporary music, jazz, musical theatre, and as a soloist. Mr. Hilash has appeared as a chamber and orchestral musician and as a soloist at many of the world's pre-eminent concert venues and music festivals including those of Bayreuth, Spoleto, Tokyo, Evian, Lincoln Center, Rome, and Aspen.

As an orchestral musician, Mr. Hilash has performed with some of the world's leading orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic with conductors including Leonard Bernstein, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, and Leonard Slatkin among many others. He is particularly active in the field of contemporary music and has worked with many of its leading practitioners including Speculum Musicae, Bang on a Can, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He has performed with jazz artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Phil Woods, Dave Holland, Lee Konitz, and Kenny Wheeler among many others.

In the theatre Mr. Hilash has worked as a featured performer in collaboration with several leading theater companies, playwrights, and directors of the New York stage including Arthur Miller and Lee Breuer. He recently performed in Carter Burwell's Theater of the New Earwith Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Steve Buscemi and others in sound plays by Joel and Ethan Coen and Charlie Kaufmann.

Mr. Hilash's recordings may be heard on the ECM, Chandos, RCA Victor, CRI, Mode, CBC, Finlandia, RCA, New World, CCNC, TBM, Capstone, and RP labels.

JOHN HOLLENBECK

John has been working with Meredith Monk since 1998 and has appeared in such works as Magic Frequencies, mercy andimpermanence. Building on a wealth of experience in jazz and world styles as well as a deep interest in contemporary composition and spiritual practice, he has forged a lyrical new musical language, as accessible and expressive as it is advanced. After receiving degrees in percussion (B.M.) and jazz composition (M.M.) from the Eastman School of Music, Hollenbeck moved to New York City in the early 1990's. He has worked with many of the world's leading musicians in jazz such as: Bob Brookmeyer, Fred Hersch, Tony Malaby, the Village Vanguard Orchestra, and Kenny Wheeler.

Hollenbeck has released several acclaimed recordings on CRI/Blueshift and the Cuneiform labels. In 2005 he was nominated for a Grammy for his Large Ensemble's debut, A Blessing (Omnitone) in the category of Best Jazz Big Band CD. His next large ensemble recording, Joys and Desires, featuring Jazz Big Band Graz and Theo Bleckmann, was released by Intuition in 2006 to critical acclaim. Hollenbeck's numerous commissions include the IAJE Gil Evans Fellowship, IAJE/ASCAP Commission, Bamberg Symphony Choir, the Windsbacher Knabenchor, Studio Percussion (Graz), the Ethos Percussion Group, and the Bang on a Can All-Stars.

In 2004 and 2006, Hollenbeck was nominated for "Up and Coming Jazz Musician of the Year" by the Jazz Journalists Association. In 2006, he was also nominated for "Composer of the Year." Down Beat magazine has recognized him as a "Rising Star" in five categories. In 2007, John won the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. He is currently a professor of drumset and improvisation at Jazz Institute Berlin (Germany).

BRUCE RAMEKER

Bruce Rameker has appeared as both baritone and countertenor on the stages of Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, BAM, Town Hall, the Edinburgh Festival, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and the Spoleto Festival in a diverse repertoire that includes ancient music, opera, operetta, oratorio, tango, and new music.  Mr. Rameker began singing with Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble in 2008 and has sung with the Skylight Opera Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, New York City Opera, Anchorage Opera, Elysium Between Two Continents, Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, Waverly Consort, Voices of Ascension, and Musica Sacra.  Born in Wisconsin, he is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

ALLISON SNIFFIN

(Music Director). Multi-instrumentalist, singer, composer, and member of Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble since 1996, Sniffin has performed in The Politics of Quiet, A Celebration Service, Magic Frequencies, mercy, Turtle Dreams, Book of Days andimpermanence. In addition to performing in Monk's Ensemble, she has engraved, prepared or orchestrated a number of Monk's works including Possible Sky and Night, and edited a book of her piano music. A recipient of awards from Meet the Composer and Concert Artists' Guild, Sniffin's music has been performed by New York Philharmonic-based duo Lambchops and by the Metamorphosis Orchestra. With a grant from Open Meadows Foundation she was commissioned by Melodia Women's Choir of NYC to create a work based on the writings of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, which premiered at Merkin Hall in New York in November 2006.

THEO BLECKMANN

Genre -bending, -skipping and -skirting vocalist and composer Theo Bleckmann has been a steady force in the New York music scene since the early ‘90's, and a member of Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble since 1994. He can be heard on over 40 recordings and has performed worldwide at such venues as the Sydney Opera House and the new Library Alexandrina in Egypt. A Winter & Winter recording artist, Bleckmann's whimsical collection of showtunes, Las Vegas Rhapsody, has been described as “the most transcendent vocal album in many a moon,” and compared to Björk's Selmasongs by Francis Davis in the Village Voice. His other releases as a soloist include origami and the ambient voice album anteroom. He has collaborated with composers such as Mark Dresser, John Hollenbeck, Phil Kline, Ben Monder, Kirk Nurock, Fumio Yasuda and Bang on a Can's David Lang, Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe, to create pieces especially for him and with him. Bleckmann particularly enjoys performing in duo. He and percussionist/composer John Hollenbeck have forged an ethereal bond born of a long track record of working together. His other ongoing collaborations include working with guitarist Ben Monder. Both collaborations are well documented on CD. Additionally Bleckmann has sung with such artists as Laurie Anderson, Anthony Braxton, Steve Coleman, Dave Douglas, Philip Glass, Sheila Jordan, Michael Tilson Thomas, and the Bang on a Can All-Stars. He has also been a guest vocalist with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Estonian Radio Choir, Merce Cunningham Dance Company and Mark Morris Dance Group, and contributed his unique vocal capabilities to the soundtrack of Steven Spielberg's Men in Black.

TOM BOGDAN

Tom sings a broad spectrum of music and has received critical acclaim for performances ranging from opera to cabaret. He first performed with Meredith Monk in ATLAS: an opera in 3 parts and is a member of her Vocal Ensemble. Ms. Monk wrote "New York Requiem" especially for him and he has performed it in New York and throughout Eastern Europe. He has participated in the premieres of more than 50 new works. Crossing many musical boundaries, his eclectic cabaret shows have delighted critics and audiences alike and his L'Amour Bleu, a musical masque on gay themes, was produced by the Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church, NYC for three seasons in a row. His many recording credits include the recently released Cantata by Stravinsky with Robert Craft conducting. He teaches voice at Bennington College, VT.

JANIS BRENNER

Janis Brenner, dancer/choreographer/singer/teacher, is Artistic Director of Janis Brenner & Dancers in New York. She has toured in 30 countries and is recognized as a "singular performer" (Eye On Dance) with a multifaceted artistic range. Brenner's numerous grants/awards include a "BESSIE" for her performance in Monk's The Politics of Quiet, Lester Horton Award for Choreography in Los Angeles, NY Foundation for The Arts Fellowship, and grants from the US State Department., Asian Cultural Council, Trust For Mutual Understanding, UNESCO, and The Fund for US Artists at International Festivals for tours to Indonesia, Taiwan, Senegal and Russia. Her work has been commissioned/restaged on companies and colleges in Europe, Asia and throughout the US. She is a sought-after teacher conducting workshops in technique, improv, composition, repertory and vocal work. She has worked with Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble since l990 (ATLAS, Education of the Girlchild, American Archeology #1: Roosevelt Island, The Plateau Series, The Politics of Quiet and A Celebration Service), recording on ECM Records, and has a debut CD with Theo Bleckmann, MARS CANTATA, available from EARrelevant Music. Brenner worked extensively with Michael Moschen as Co-Choreographer (1988-92), Annabelle Gamson's company ('84-'87) and with Murray Louis Dance Company ('77-'84). In February, 2007 "Janis Brenner & Guests: A 25th Anniversary Celebration" was a critically-acclaimed highlight of the New York winter season.

ALLISON EASTER

Allison is a dancer, singer, teacher, director and producer. She has worked with Meredith Monk since 1985's revival ofQuarry, appearing in The Travelogue Series, Book of Days, The Ringing Place, ATLAS, Three Heavens and Hells, Vessel, and The Politics of Quiet, for which she received a New York Dance and Performance Award. She can be heard in recordings of ATLAS and Volcano Songs. She was a performer and rehearsal director for STOMP, the Off-Broadway percussion show. For dancing with Susan Marshall and Company, Allison was featured in the Village Voice article, "1994's Breathtaking Performances." Running in the Family, created with her mother Mary Easter, was presented by the Walker Art Center. Allison has directed and/or produced at The Ensemble Studio Theater and The NY Fringe Festival, taught at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and is on the faculty at Pace University where she choreographed Trojan Women.

CHING GONZALEZ

Ching was born in Manila, raised in Honolulu, and has worked in New York City's experimental dance, music and theater scenes since 1976. He has been a member of Meredith Monk/The House and Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble, performing in her operas, music/theater pieces, concerts, films and recordings since 1984. He also has presented his original dance/theater works in New York, San Francisco and Honolulu. Highlights: originating member of Laura Dean Dancers and Musicians; member of Hot Mouth, an a cappella hip-hop theater; appeared as Honey Love in Jeff Weiss' midnight serial, Hot Keys; The King and I on Broadway with Yul Brynner. Special thanks to Columbia University Human Resources, where he has worked as an officer of administration since 1998.

LANNY HARRISON

Lanny Harrison, character actress, dancer and cabaret artist, began her career in the New York Pantomime Theater in 1966. She has been a member of The House since 1969, and has played leading roles in many of Ms. Monk's productions, most recently mercy and a revival of Quarry at the Spoleto Festival USA. She has played character roles in Off-Broadway musicals and films and, for the past 30 years has written and performed one-woman shows, touring America and Europe. Ms. Harrison is currently at work on Isba, a new theater piece. She is a member of Cocktail Cabaret, directed by Pablo Vela. Ms. Harrison has performed a number of theatrical duets, includingCooking Up A Storm, with her late husband, musician Collin Walcott; Acts From Under And Above with Meredith Monk; Sense and Nonsensewith Steve Clorfeine and Act Without Words II by Samuel Beckett also with Mr. Clorfeine. Ms. Harrison and Lily Pink have presented their vaudeville show, The Bat Sisters, at various venues in NYC and in upstate NY. Ms. Harrison teaches acting for children upstate at the West Kortright Centre and in the Arts in Education Program. She has an ongoing workshop at the NY Shambhala Center and has taught at Naropa University for many years. Since 2000, she has been a member of the Shambhala Arts team at the Shambhala Institute in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Ms Harrison is also on the faculty of the Gallatin division of NYU where she teaches a theater course integrating Eastern contemplative disciplines and Western theatrical technique. Since 1973, she has practiced Tibetan Buddhism as a student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and is certified as a meditation instructor.

PABLO VELA

Pablo has been a member of Meredith Monk/The House since 1975, performing in major productions on stage and on film. He was also Associate Director of Monk's opera, ATLAS: an opera in three parts, American Archeology #1: Roosevelt Island, and The Politics of Quiet. Vela received his theater training at Yale University and, in addition, studied with Viola Spolin (improvisation) and with Jacques Lecoq (masks and mime). Vela's work as performer and/or director has been presented throughout the US and Canada, as well as in Europe and in Central America. He teaches at The City College of New York and, in addition, is coordinator for the biannual Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble Company Member Workshops.

RANDALL WONG

An ensemble member since 1990, male soprano/countertenor Randall Wong has built a distinguished reputation specializing in both historically informed performances of Baroque and Classic period repertoire and contemporary music. His solo work in opera, concert performances, and recitals has taken him from such far flung places as Sydney to Juneau, AK: five continents in all. A number of operatic roles have been composed for Mr. Wong. With Houston Grand Opera he premiered Stewart Wallace's Where's Dick andHarvey Milk (reprised by New York City Opera and San Francisco Opera), and Meredith Monk's ATLAS. As a member of the ensemble he has participated in numerous theatrical and concert tours including ATLAS, The Politics of Quiet, and A Celebration Service. With the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, he premiered his orchestrations of Meredith Monk's Memory Song and New York Requiem, and his own A Victorian Bestiary. He has sung in innumerable modern performances of early operas including works by Handel, Mozart, Hasse, and J. C. Bach, in many North American and European venues including Rome, Dresden, Stuttgart, Boston, San Francisco, and Hong Kong. As composer/designer/performer Mr. Wong's has created a number of miniature operas via grants and commissions from (among others) the San Francisco Arts Commission, Yerba Buena Center (SF), Zellerbach Foundation, American Composers Forum, Museum of Jurassic Technology (LA), Theatre Bay Area, and California Arts Council. He received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Stanford University, is a resident artist with the Z Space Studio Theater (SF), and has been featured on the Teldec, Helicon, ECM, Centaur, Koch International, and Dorian labels.