Meredith Monk

Education - Workshops


Friday-Sunday, April 20-22, 2018
Meredith Monk
Voice as Practice: Instrument of the Heart
1440 Multiversity, CA
For more information and to register, click here.

The voice, the original human instrument, expresses an eloquent language of the heart that delineates energy for which we don’t have words. With careful instruction and supportive guidance from Meredith Monk—celebrated internationally for the last 50 years and hailed as “a magician of the voice”—in this workshop, you will tap into landscapes of sound that unearth feelings, energies, and memories that could not otherwise be expressed. This is a rare opportunity to uncover your unique voice with methods developed by a pioneering composer who is also a longtime Buddhist practitioner.

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We offer biannual workshops with members of the Vocal Ensemble, who are all master teachers and have been working with Meredith on average for thirty years.

Friday-Sunday, January 5-7, 2018
11am-1:30pm & 2:30pm-5:00pm
New York City

Workshop Fee: $350
Single Day: $130

With Tom Bogdan, Janis Brenner, Lanny Harrison, Ellen Fisher, Katie Geissinger and Workshop Coordinator, Pablo Vela*

Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble consists of some of the finest and most adventurous singer/performers active in new music theater.  Reflecting diverse backgrounds and interdisciplinary approaches to performance, members past and present share Monk’s process for creating work.  Beginning with breathing techniques and a detailed vocal and movement warm-up, participants work with the voice and body as multifaceted instruments for exploring range, timbre, gesture, resonance, character, landscape and rhythm.  The work aims to uncover the fundamentals of performance as a vehicle for spiritual transformation.  Selected pieces from Monk’s repertoire will also be taught. 

*Please note, Meredith Monk does not teach during this program offered by The House Foundation. Teachers are also subject to change.


To find a balance of structure and spontaneity, freedom and form.
To begin to build the “feel” of an ensemble, both in rehearsal and performance.
To provide a springboard from which participants can discover and develop a personal viewpoint and means of expression.

More Info:

The workshop is open to all levels of performance experience.

Participants should wear clothing and shoes allowing for ease of movement.

14 Students Maximum

Workshops may be filmed.

For a registration form, click here. Please complete and email registration form to by December 29, 2017. Acceptance into the workshop is on a first-come, first-served basis. Preference will be given to students able to attend all three days.

Full Workshop (Three Days): $350
Two Days: $260
Single Day: $130

Friday, January 5
AM Ellen Fisher
PM Katie Geissinger

Saturday, January 6
AM Janis Brenner
PM Tom Bogdan

Sunday, January 7
AM Lanny Harrison
PM Pablo Vela

Ellen Fisher’s session will be movement based, using some of Meredith's language of gestural shaping. There will be group improvisations as well as simple solo & group choreographic problem solving, using terminology of rituals, rites and trance dance.

Katie Geissinger will lead an extensive vocal warm-up, exploring relaxation, breathing, flexibility, ease of production, and expressivity. The session will focus on canoning, hocketing, and voice and movement exercises.  Participants will also work on small group improvisations using Monk repertoire.

Lanny Harrisonwill focus on shape-shifting and transforming characters in changing landscapes and environments within solo, duo and trio forms, working predominately from a movement base. She will also touch on how Shambhala Buddhist practice can inform all theater work.

Tom Bogdan will deal with a simple approach to voice production and teach a basic tour of exercises to help with breathing, resonance, range and color. He'll also teach a round, do an improvisatory exercise and work on one of Meredith's pieces, Panda Chant II, Quarry Weave, or other.

Janis Brenner’s session will include a brief physical warm-up, and a vocal warm-up with the teaching of a song to be sung in "round", then enhanced and transformed with movement. This will lead into movement/voice integration through structured improvisations and character development.

Pablo Vela’s class will be devoted to Form in three-dimensional space: vertical, horizontal, diagonal, curved, straight. Content and Meaning: movement/stillness, near/far, tight/loose, up/down, flat/full; and, last but not least, Style.


Tom Bogdan teaches voice at Bennington College and has worked with Meredith Monk since 1991. Ms. Monk wrote New York Requiem especially for him. Bogdan has received critical acclaim for his performances in Concert, Opera, Recital, Cabaret and his own interdisciplinary pieces, L'Amour Bleu and Tell Me The Truth About Love, both produced by the Danspace Project, NY. Of his many recordings his favorites include Monk's ATLAS, Tom Bogdan's L'Amour Bleu, a gay celebration of love, and his For Your Delight with pianist Harry Huff. He has received Fulbright awards to teach Monk's A Celebration Service to students in Manila, Philippines, a Hungarian Ensemble in Budapest and in São Paulo, Brazil. Bogdan's new CD Hungarian Folk Songs by Bartók and Kodály is available on Centaur Records.

Janis Brenner is an award-winning dancer/choreographer/singer/teacher and is Artistic Director of Janis Brenner & Dancers in N.Y. She has toured in 34 countries and is recognized as a "singular performer" with a multifaceted artistic range receiving numerous honors/grants from the US State Dept., The Trust for Mutual Understanding, Asian Cultural Council, The Fund for US Artists, UNESCO, for tours in Indonesia, Senegal, Taiwan, Russia, etc. Janis joined Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble in 1990 for ATLAS, receiving a group "Bessie" award for The Politics of Quiet in 1997. She performs an acclaimed suite from Monk’s Songs from the Hill in concert and in 2009, revived Monk's seminal 1964 solo Break for JB&D’s NY season at Joyce SoHo. Her classes / workshops in technique, improvisation, choreography, repertory and voice have been taught throughout the world. She is currently on the faculty at Juilliard serving as Choreographic Mentor and Creative Process instructor, as well as creating and touring with JB&D. Her most recent work has taken her to Macedonia, Stockholm, and Singapore.

Ellen Fisher's performance art production combines gestural actions partnered with visual components such as film, video, shadow play, puppets and apparatus. Her performance work is informed by ethnographic research on the rituals and trance dance of South Asia. She began performing with Meredith Monk/The House in the ‘70s, in such works as The Plateau Series and Recent Ruins, and more recently has appeared in mercy, impermanence, Songs of Ascension and On Behalf of Nature. Fisher has also toured internationally with her solo performances. These works have been funded by NEA, NYFA, Jerome Foundation, Art Matters Inc. and the Asia Cultural Council. In addition to solo work, she continues to collaborate with community groups and other artists on intergenerational and intercultural projects. She and Katie Geissinger have also led the Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble education program involving New York City high school students since 2009.

Katie Geissinger has been performing with Meredith Monk since 1990, at festivals and venues worldwide, in concert, and in pieces such as ATLAS, The Politics of Quiet (for which she is a Bessie recipient), mercy, the Grammy-nominated impermanenceSongs of Ascension and the currently touring On Behalf of Nature. She premiered Bang on a Can’s OBIE award-winning The Carbon Copy Building and performed in the second world tour of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson's Einstein on the Beach, which was revived in concert at Carnegie Hall. Other Carnegie Hall appearances include Bach’s Magnificat with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Witch in Honegger’s Le Roi David, and Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar. Katie has also appeared in Jonathan Miller’s staged productions of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at BAM, and in John Tavener’s The Veil of the Temple at Lincoln Center. Her Broadway credits include Baz Luhrmann’s production of La Boheme and Coram Boy, and Off-Broadway she has appeared in many Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.  Katie has premiered many new music theater pieces, including Mark Mulcahy and Ben Katchor’s The Rosenbach Company and Philip Miller’s The Hottentot Venus at MASSMoCA.  Her teaching experience ranges from choral work in Estonia and San Francisco to workshops at Naropa, Bang on a Can's new music institute at MASSMoCA, Oberlin, ETW at NYU, Berklee, the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall, and LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts.

Lanny Harrison has been a member of The House since 1969, playing many leading roles in Monk's productions including recent performances of mercy and Quarry. Since 1966 she has performed in Off-Broadway musicals, films, theatrical duets and her own one-woman shows, which have toured internationally. She teaches theater at the Gallatin division of NYU, an ongoing workshop at the New York Shambhala Center, and intergenerational workshops at West Kortright Centre in upstate NY. She is a certified meditation instructor, and taught at Naropa University for many years. Since 2000 she has been a member of the Shambhala Arts team at the ALIA Institute in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and has practiced Tibetan Buddhism as a student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche since 1973. She and Ms. Monk last co-taught a workshop with Acharya Judy Lief at Naropa in March 2013.

Pablo Vela has been a member of Meredith Monk/The House since 1975, appearing in theater productions such as Quarry and Specimen Days and on film in Book of Days and Ellis Island. He was also Associate Director of Monk's opera ATLAS, American Archeology #1, and The Politics of Quiet. He received his theater training at Yale University and, in addition, studied with Viola Spolin (improvisation) and Jacques Lecoq (masks and mime). His work as performer/director/teacher has been presented throughout the United States and Canada as well as in Europe and Central America. Vela has created a series of memorable cabaret performances in New York City. The 11th Hour Lounge and Particular People (1 & 2) were performed in Manhattan, the latter at La MaMa ETC. WB Club WB (a tribute to film noir) and das MAX cabaret (inspired by the paintings of Max Beckmann) were presented at the fabled BACA Downtown in Brooklyn. Cocktail Cabaret, his latest creation, was shown at The Club/La MaMa. In the past, Vela has taught at institutions such as the Dell’Arte School in California and Denmark’s National Theater School. At the present time he teaches at the Trinity College/La MaMa Urban Arts Semester in NYC.

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