Grammy-Winning New Music Choir, The Crossing, Announces 2019-2020 Season

“America’s most astonishing choir” – The New York Times

World Premieres by Gavin Bryars, Michael Gordon, Edie Hill,
Daniel Felsenfeld, Aaron Helgeson, and Tawnie Olson 

The Crossing @ Christmas in NYC and Philadelphia

A Season-Long Residency at the Annenberg Center 

Knee Plays Featuring Music by Philip Glass and David Byrne

The Month of Moderns 2020

The Crossing’s Annual Residency in Big Sky, MT

www.crossingchoir.org

Winner of the 2018 and 2019 Grammy Awards for Best Choral Performance, The Crossing, with conductor Donald Nally, today announces its 2019-2020 season. The season—which is centered around how humans use their words and voices to promote change—includes 9 performances of Aniara: fragments of time and space in Helsinki presented by the Finnish National Opera; the world premiere of Gavin Bryars’ A Native Hill at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill; The Crossing @ Christmas featuring a world premiere by Edie Hill at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Rittenhouse Square, presented by the Annenberg Center, The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, and The Met Cloisters; Knee Plays featuring the music of Philip Glass and David Byrne presented by the Annenberg Center as part of a season long residency; the world premiere of Michael Gordon’s Travel Guide to Nicaragua presented by the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia and the New York premiere presented by Carnegie Hall in New York City; The Month of Moderns 2020 featuring world premieres by Daniel Felsenfeld, Tawnie Olson, and Aaron Helgeson and music by Nicholas Cline, Morton Feldman, and Toivo Tulev; and The Crossing’s Annual Residency at Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky, Montana, where they continue work on a 24-hour piece of music and film with Michael Gordon and filmmaker Bill Morrison.

The Crossing revives the critically acclaimed choral-theater work Aniara: fragments of time and space from September 16-21, 2019 presented by Finnish National Opera at Almi Hall in Helsinki. Based on the epic poem by Nobel Prize-winner Henry Martinson, Aniara explores the relationships humans have  to the Earth, to each other, and to the passage of time, while following the physical and emotional voyage of a group that has left a dying earth and is thrown permanently off course, heading toward the constellation Lyra. The new work was developed with the Klockriketeatern of Helsinki over a period of three years, and is composed by Robert Maggio with artistic direction by Dan Henriksson and Donald Nally and featuring Beijing Opera-inspired choreography and dance by Antti Silvennoinen of Wusheng Company, costumes by Erika Turunen, scenic and lighting design by Joonas Tikkanen, and sound design by Paul VasquezRead The New York Times feature on Aniara: fragments of time and space.

On Sunday, October 13, 2019 at 5pm at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia, The Crossing presents the world premiere of Gavin Bryars’ substantial new evening-length a cappella work,A Native HillThe long-anticipated follow-up to Gavin’s The Fifth Century, which won The Crossing its first Grammy award, A Native Hill sets texts by the American writer Wendell Berry from his 1968 essay of the same title offering meditations on how life can be experienced, with detailed descriptions of the minutiae of rural existence; as such, simple natural events reveal themselves as metaphors for universal truths.

The ensemble’s annual holiday program, The Crossing @ Christmas, will be performed at Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia on Friday, December 20, 2019 at 7:30pm presented by the Annenberg Center; at The Met Cloisters in New York City on Saturday, December 21, 2019 at 12:30pm and 3:30pm; and back in Philadelphia at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill on Sunday, December 22, 2019 at 5:00pm. The program features David Lang’s Pulitzer-winning the little match girl passion (2008), paired with Spectral Spirits, a major commission from Edie Hill based on poems of Holly Hughes.

The spring season opens on Friday, February 21, 2020 and Saturday, February 22, 2020 at 8:00pm with Knee Plays, presented by the Annenberg Center. Knee Plays features the music of Philip Glass and David Byrne, texts by Robert Wilson and David Byrne, projections by Jeff Sugg, in a production conceived and directed by Donald Nally. Drawn from Wilson’s massive productions Einstein on the Beach and the CIVIL warS, these two diverse and mesmerizing sets of musical knee plays are substantial works on their own, serving as a record of the time of their creation. David Byrne looks at the ironies of daily life, while Philip Glass considers Einstein’s world next to the banalities of our passing minutes and asks, “Which is the simple, which the comedic, which the profound?”

The Crossing gives the world premiere of Michael Gordon’s Travel Guide to Nicaragua on Sunday, March 22, 2020 at 7:00pm presented by the Annenberg Center and the New York premiere on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 7:30pmpresented by Carnegie HallTravel Guide to Nicaragua, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall for The Crossing, is based on the texts of Gordon, Mark Twain, and Rubén Darío and will be performed with cellist Maya Beiser. For the first eight years of Michael Gordon’s life, his Eastern European parents made their home in the jungle on the outskirts of Managua, Nicaragua, where he spent his days perched in trees and eating food with his hands. Travel Guide to Nicaragua is his hazy memory of this strange and good life of exotic tarantulas and parrot bites. Michael’s third substantial work for The Crossing reaches beyond his childhood, pondering the world of Mayans and Aztecs, and drawing on words of poet Rubén Darío and those of Mark Twain following his remarkable trip to this small, beautiful country.

The Crossing’s summer new music festival, The Month of Modernsbegins on Saturday, June 13, 2020 at 7:00pm at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia with Blunt Movements: Rising Down. The program, performed with the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), features a world premiere of the same name from Daniel Felsenfeld on texts of Edward Gibbon, Susan Sontag, Thomas Paine, Saul Alinsky, James Baldwin, Cleve Jones, William T. Vollman, and Christopher Hitchens. Felsenfeld’s Blunt Movements: Rising Down is a new kind of mass, taking the vivid text of Edward Gibbon’s epoch-making The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire as the “ordinary” of this unconventional setting and adding texts of radical 20th and 21st-century thinkers.

The Month of Moderns continues on Sunday, June 21, 2020 at 5:00pm at Icebox Project Space with Watersheds featuring Nicholas Cline’s Watersheds (2018) based on texts by Rachel Carson, Mary Austin, John Muir, C.D. Wilber, and Henry Thoreau and a rare venture into older music: Morton Feldman’s Rothko Chapel (1971), both featuring films by Brett Snodgrass. Performers joining The Crossing include Matthew Levy (tenor saxophone), Wendy Richman (viola), and Ross Karre (percussion).

The final concert of The Month of Moderns is The Book of Never on Thursday, July 2, 2020 at 7:00pm at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. The program features the world premiere of Aaron Helgeson’s The Book of Never, based on texts of the Novgorod Codex, and a world premiere of a new work by Tawnie Olson with major support from the Barlow Foundation. Toivo Tulev’s I heard the voices of Children (2019), which The Crossing premiered at the LA Philharmonic’s June 2019 Noon to Midnight Festival, will receive its Philadelphia premiere.

To close the 2019-20 season, The Crossing returns to The Big Sky Choral Initiative for a 2-week residency at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky, Montana. The Crossing will join composer Michael Gordon and filmmaker Bill Morrison in their third year of collaboration on a new work, Montaña, specific to this unique gathering at Big Sky. This work draws on the history, beauty, and expanse of Montana as inspiration for this extended composition of 24 hours for unaccompanied choir and film. The residency will culminate in several performances of this developing work, details to be announced. 


Program Information

Aniara: fragments of time and space 
Presented by Finnish National Opera
September 16 – 21, 2019
Almi Hall | Mannerheimintie | Helsinki, Finland
Link: 
More information and background at aniara.crossingchoir.org.

Program:
Aniara: fragments of time and space

Performers and Production Team:
The Crossing
Klockriketeatern
Robert Maggio, composer
Dan Henriksson, libretto
Donald Nally, conductor
Matti Raita, actor
Carl Alm, actor
Dan Henriksson and Donald Nally, artistic directors
Antti Silvennoinen, choreographer/dancer
Erika Turunen, costume designer
Joonas Tikkanen, scenic and lighting designer
Paul Vasquez, sound designer

More information and background at aniara.crossingchoir.org.

Crediting: Major support for Aniara has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from The Arts Promotion Center Finland, The American-Scandinavian Foundation, Finlandia Foundation National, and the National Endowment for the Arts


A Native Hill
Sunday, October 13, 2019 at 5:00pm (Pre-concert talk with Donald Nally and Gavin Bryars at 4:00pm)
The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill | Philadelphia, PA
Link: 
https://www.crossingchoir.org/events//2019/a-native-hill

Program:
Gavin Bryars – A Native Hill (World Premiere)

Performers:
The Crossing
Donald Nally, conductor


The Crossing @ Christmas
Presented by the Annenberg Center
Friday, December 20, 2019 at 7:30pm
Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square | Philadelphia, PA 
Link:
 https://www.crossingchoir.org/events/2019/christmas-trinity

The Crossing @ Christmas
Saturday, December 21, 2019 at 12:30pm and 3:30pm
The Met Cloisters | New York, NY
Link: 
https://www.crossingchoir.org/events/2019/christmas-met

The Crossing @ Christmas
Sunday, December 22, 2019 at 5:30pm
The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill | Philadelphia, PA
Link: 
https://www.crossingchoir.org/events/2019/christmas-pcch

Program:
Edie Hill – Spectral Spirits (World Premiere)
David Lang – the little match girl passion (2008)

Performers:
The Crossing
Donald Nally, conductor


Knee Plays
Presented by the Annenberg Center
Friday, February 21, 2020 at 8:00pm
Saturday, February 22, 2020 at 8:00pm
The Annenberg Center | Philadelphia, PA
Friday Link: 
https://www.crossingchoir.org/events/2020/knee-plays-fri
Saturday Link: https://www.crossingchoir.org/events/2020/knee-plays-sat 

Program:
Music by Philip Glass and David Byrne

Performers:
The Crossing
Donald Nally, conductor
Projections by Jeff Sugg
Conceived and directed by Donald Nally


Travel Guide to Nicaragua
Presented by the Annenberg Center
Sunday, March 22, 2020 at 7:00pm
The Annenberg Center | Philadelphia, PA
Link: 
https://www.crossingchoir.org/events/2020/nicaragua-philly

Travel Guide to Nicaragua
Presented by Carnegie Hall
Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 7:30pm
(Pre-concert talk with Donald Nally and Michael Gordon, moderated by John Schaefer at 6:30pm)

Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall | New York, NY
Link: 
https://www.crossingchoir.org/events/2020/nicaragua-carnegie-hall

Program:
Michael Gordon – Travel Guide to Nicaragua (World Premiere)

Performers:
The Crossing
Donald Nally, conductor
Maya Beiser, cello


THE MONTH OF MODERNS

Blunt Movements: Rising Down
Saturday, June 13, 2020 at 7:00pm (Pre-concert talk with Donald Nally and Daniel Felsenfeld at 6:00pm)

The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill | Philadelphia, PA
Link: https://www.crossingchoir.org/events/2020/mom1

Program:
Daniel Felsenfeld – Blunt Movements: Rising Down (World Premiere)

Performers:
The Crossing
Donald Nally, conductor
International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE)

Watersheds
Sunday, June 21, 2020 at 5:00pm
Icebox Project Space, Crane Arts | Philadelphia, PA
Link: 
https://www.crossingchoir.org/events/2020/mom2

Program:
Nicholas Cline – Watersheds
Morton Feldman – Rothko Chapel

Performers:
The Crossing
Donald Nally, conductor
Films by Brett Snodgrass
Matthew Levy, tenor saxophone
Wendy Richman, viola
Ross Karre, percussion

The Book of Never
Thursday, July 2, 2020 at 7:00pm (Pre-concert talk with Donald and the composers at 6:00pm)
The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill | Philadelphia, PA
Link: 
https://www.crossingchoir.org/events/2020/mom3

Program:
Aaron Helgeson – The Book of Never (World Premiere)
Tawnie Olson – New Work (World Premiere)
Toivo Tulev – I heard the voices of Children

Performers:
The Crossing
Donald Nally, conductor


The Crossing @ Big Sky
Summer 2020
Warren Miller Performing Arts Center | Big Sky, MT
Link: 
https://www.crossingchoir.org/events/2020/big-sky

Program:
Michael Gordon – Montaña (Evolving World Premiere)

Performers:
The Crossing
Donald Nally, conductor
Film by Bill Morrison
Produced by John Zirkle and Donald Nally


About The Crossing
The Crossing is a Grammy-winning professional chamber choir conducted by Donald Nally and dedicated to new music. It is committed to working with creative teams to make and record new, substantial works for choir that explore and expand ways of writing for choir, singing in choir, and listening to music for choir. Many of its over eighty commissioned premieres address social, environmental, and political issues. 

Highly sought after for collaborative projects, The Crossing’s first collaboration was as the resident choir of the Spoleto Festival, Italy, in 2007. The Crossing has appeared at Miller Theatre of Columbia University with the International Contemporary Ensemble, with whom they have appeared at the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center. They joined Bang on a Can for its first Philadelphia Marathon; and have sung with the LA Philharmonic, the American Composers Orchestra, Network for New Music, Lyric Fest, Piffaro, Tempesta di Mare Baroque Chamber Orchestra, PRISM Saxophone Quartet, Toshimaru Nakamura, Beth Morrison Projects, Dolce Suono, Allora & Calzadilla, Pig Iron Theatre Company and The Rolling Stones. Venues include National Sawdust, Disney Hall in Los Angeles, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, The Kennedy Center in Washington, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, Northwestern University, Colgate University, and the Winter Garden in New York with WNYC. In 2014 they premiered John Luther Adams’ Sila: the breath of the world at Lincoln Center. The Crossing holds an annual residency at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky, Montana where they are working on an extensive, multi-year project with composer Michael Gordon and filmmaker Bill Morrison. Their concerts are broadcast regularly on WRTI, 90.1 FM, Philadelphia’s Classical and Jazz Public Radio. In the 2018-19 season they made their debut at the New York Philharmonic, Park Avenue Armory, and Peak Performances at Montclair State University.

The Crossing has presented over seventy commissioned world premieres. Major new works have included Michael Gordon’s Anonymous Man (2017), Michael Gilbertson’s Born (2017), Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Ad genua (2016), Lansing McLoskey’s Zealot Canticles (2017), Caroline Shaw’s To the Hands (2016), John Luther Adams’ Canticles of the Holy Wind (2013, co-commissioned with Kamer), Gavin Bryars’ The Fifth Century (2014, written for The Crossing and PRISM), Stratis Minakakis’ Crossings Cycle (2015/2017), Gregory Brown’s un/bodying/s (2017), David Lang’s statement to the court (2010), Lewis Spratlan’s Hesperus is Phosphorus (2012, co-commissioned with Network for New Music), Ted Hearne’s Sound From the Bench (2014, co-commissioned with Volti) and, from Kile Smith, The Arc in the Sky (2018), The Consolation of Apollo (2014), The Waking Sun (2011), and Vespers (2008, a commission of Piffaro). In 2016, The Crossing presented Seven Responses with new works including those of David T. Little, Hans Thomalla, Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, and Santa Ratniece. That same year, The Crossing commissioned and presented Jeff Quartets, a rare compilation of quartets from fifteen of the world’s leading composers, presented as a concert-length set and collected in an omnibus edition. In June 2019, The Crossing presented its largest project to date, Aniara: fragments of time and space, a collaboration with Klockriketeatern in Helsinki, and composer Robert Maggio. 

With a commitment to recording their commissions, The Crossing has fifteen commercially-released recordings, two Grammy Awards, and three nominations. Their collaboration with PRISM, Gavin Bryars’ The Fifth Century (ECM, October 2016), was the winner of the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance and named one of The Chicago Tribune’s Top 10 Classical CDs of the 2016. Lansing McLoskey’s Zealot Canticles won the 2019 Grammy and Thomas Lloyd’s Bonhoeffer (Albany 2016) was nominated for the 2017 Grammy, both as Best Choral Performance.

The Crossing, with Donald Nally, was the American Composers Forums’ 2017 Champion of New Music. The Crossing’s 2014 commission Sound from The Bench by Ted Hearne was named a 2018 Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music. They were the recipient of the 2015 Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence, three ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, as well as the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award (with composer Joel Puckett) from Chorus America. Read more at www.crossingchoir.org

*Image at top of release by Kevin Vondrak

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