Animation and Artwork by Brett Snodgrass
“America’s most astonishing choir” – The New York Times
On Monday, August 31, 2020 at 12 p.m ET, GRAMMY-winning choir The Crossing, led by Donald Nally, premieres a new animated film by Brett Snodgrass featuring “One Day I Saw,” a movement of Michael Gordon’s hour-long piece on history, home, and homelessness, Anonymous Man. The premiere will go live on The Crossing’s Facebook page, website, and YouTube Channel and will remain available to view afterwards. The film was conceived by Donald Nally and features original artwork and animation by longtime Crossing collaborator Brett Snodgrass. The Crossing released its recording of Anonymous Man on Friday, March 20, 2020 on Cantaloupe Music. Review copies and downloads available upon request.
Scored for 24 unaccompanied voices, Anonymous Man expands on Michael Gordon’s inventive approach to composition, layering minimalistic swirls of vocal sound on top of one another to create a hypnotic incantation. Gordon regards Anonymous Man as one of his most important and personal works, drawing inspiration for the piece from his neighborhood in lower Manhattan. Now a residential area in Tribeca, the block Gordon was at the time an industrial warehouse district when he moved into the former Romanoff Caviar factory in 1981.
He says, “When I moved into my loft on Desbrosses Street, the streets were empty, since few people lived there. But both then and now, there were the homeless. Over time the neighborhood changed from an industrial warehouse district to a residential area. Anonymous Man is a memoir about my block. The piece is built around my memories of moving in, meeting my future wife for the first time there, and conversations I have had with two homeless men who made their home on the loading dock across the street.” The nine-movement work was commissioned by The Crossing and premiered by the group on July 1, 2017 at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, as a part of The Month of Moderns, The Crossing’s annual summer festival of new music.
One Day I Saw
One day I saw a make-shift memorial where Larry lived. The
alcove he slept in was covered with flowers and candles. I was
surprised the Downtown Express ran an article, “Downtowners
mourn the homeless man they called Larry”
One day, in March 2007, I walked into my studio, and from the window I saw
a make-shift memorial, across the street a sad tableau – flowers and candles
and hand written notes taped up on the wall by the alcove where Larry slept
covered with cardboard.“I used to bring him coffee and lunch,” said Eve. “A kindly graceful man,” said Mitchell.
“A comforting familiar face,” said Jordi, “I have two kids, he would always wave to us.”
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 nearly 110 commissioned premieres address social, environmental, and political issues.
The Crossing collaborates with some of the world’s most accomplished ensembles and artists, including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra, Network for New Music, Lyric Fest, Piffaro, Beth Morrison Projects, Allora & Calzadilla, Bang on a Can, Klockriketeatern, and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). Similarly, The Crossing often collaborates with some of world’s most prestigious venues and presenters, such as the Park Avenue Armory, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Pennsylvania, National Sawdust, David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, Disney Hall in Los Angeles, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Menil Collection in Houston, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Haarlem Choral Biennale in The Netherlands, The Finnish National Opera in Helsinki, The Kennedy Center in Washington, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space in New York, Winter Garden with WNYC, and Duke, Northwestern, Colgate, and Notre Dame Universities. 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.
With a commitment to recording its commissions, The Crossing has issued 21 releases, receiving two Grammy Awards for Best Choral Performance (2018, 2019), and five Grammy nominations. The Crossing, with Donald Nally, was the American Composers Forum’s 2017 Champion of New Music. They were the recipients of the 2015 Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence, three ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, and the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award from Chorus America.
Recently, The Crossing has expanded its choral presentation to film, working with Four/Ten Media, in-house sound designer Paul Vazquez of Digital Mission Audio Services, visual artists Brett Snodgrass and Steven Bradshaw, and composers David Lang and Michael Gordon on live and animated versions of new and existing works. Lang’s “protect yourself from infection” and “in nature” were specifically designed to be performed within the restrictions imposed by the Covid 19 pandemic.
The Crossing is represented by Alliance Artist Management. All of its concerts are broadcast on WRTI, Philadelphia’s Classical and Jazz public radio. Learn more at www.crossingchoir.org.
About Michael Gordon
Over the past 30 years, Michael Gordon has produced a strikingly diverse body of work, ranging from large-scale pieces for high-energy ensembles and major orchestral commissions to works conceived specifically for the recording studio and kaleidoscopic works for groups of identical instruments. Transcending categorization, his music represents the collision of mysterious introspection and brutal directness.
This season, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players with Roomful of Teeth and Splinter Reeds premiere the concert-length In a Strange Land, the Strings of Autumn festival in Prague feature Gordon as composer-in-residence and perform Timber plus all of Gordon’s string quartets, and the percussion/piano/bass trio Bearthoven premieres a new work.
Gordon’s recent works include a new chamber version of his opera Acquanetta, commissioned/premiered by Beth Morrison’s Prototype Festival in NYC; “8” commissioned by the Amsterdam Cello Octet, the latest addition to Gordon’s concert-length music for multiples; Big Space, commissioned and presented by the BBC Proms; and three new works for orchestra — Natural History, written for the 100th Anniversary of the United States’ National Parks and premiered at Crater Lake in Oregon; Observations on Air, a concerto for bassoon for soloist Peter Whelan, commissioned by The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; and The Unchanging Sea, a piano concerto for Tomoko Mukaiyama with a new film by Bill Morrison commissioned/premiered by the Seattle Symphony and the Rotterdam Symphony. Gordon and Morrison’s other collaborations include the Decasia, Dystopia, Gotham and El Sol Caliente.
Gordon’s discography includes The Unchanging Sea, Clouded Yellow, Sonatra, Natural History, Timber Remixed, Dystopia, Rushes, Timber, Weather, Light is Calling, Decasia, (purgatorio) POPOPERA, Van Gogh, Trance, and Big Noise from Nicaragua. He is co-founder and co-artistic director of New York’s legendary music collective Bang on a Can. His music is published by Red Poppy Music (ASCAP) and Ricordi/Universal Music Classical.
About Brett Snodgrass
Video producer Brett Snodgrass has 30 years of experience designing for a wide range of genres: film and television, theater, opera, Industrial theater and video presentations, commercials, photo editorials, stop motion and puppet presentations, and architectural installations. He’s currently focusing on Production Design and Art Direction for film and TV. His work has been seen on Showtime, Amazon, PBS, Cartoon Network, on Disney Digital Media, in the pages of Playboy, on HBO, on stages from New York to Chicago to Branson, Missouri, and in film festivals across the country. Snodgrass did the multimedia design for The Crossing’s 2016 project Seven Responses, featuring new works by David T. Little, Hans Thomalla, Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, and Santa Ratniece. Learn more at www.brettsnodgrass.com.