Walker Art Center

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“Cunningham made room for music, and the composers created music that made room for movement. An invitation always went out to listen.” —Los Angeles Times

Minneapolis, February 7, 2017—Merce Cunningham and longtime partner/composer John Cage were renowned for their legendary collaborations with the most significant experimental musicians of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Join us to celebrate this remarkable legacy over two historic evenings with a festival of music and sound performances curated by composer/guitarist John King Thursday–Friday, 8pm, in the William and Nadine McGuire Theater.

Featured with King are electronic music pioneer and longtime Merce Cunningham Dance Company associate David Behrman, contemporary classical composer Christian Wolff, and composer/performers Joan La Barbara, Fast Forward, Ikue Mori, George Lewis, Zeena Parkins, and Radiohead’s Philip Selway with London-based multi-instrumentalist Quinta. Each evening consists of separate sets of solo, duo, ensemble, and landmark works, concluding with a collectively made real-time composition.

As a part of The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s (MCA Chicago) co-presentation of the Walker-organized exhibition Merce Cunningham: Common Time, Music for Merce will be performed at MCA Saturday–Sunday February 25–26.

Program A: Thursday, February 23, 8 pm

1. Christian Wolff: Or 4 People
Christian Wolff, George Lewis, David Behrman, John King

2. Joan La Barbara: Solitary Journeys of the Mind
Joan La Barbara

3. Philip Selway/Quinta:
Yaasholl: Philip Selway, Quinta, Ikue Mori
One Note Arpeggio: Philip Selway, Quinta
Of Course I Do: Philip Selway, Quinta, John King

4. John Cage: Fontana Mix with Aria with Indeterminacy
(performed simultaneously)
Aria: Joan La Barbara
Indeterminacy: Fast Forward
Fontana Mix: Ikue Mori, David Behrman


5. David Tudor: untitled (1975/1994)
John King

6. John King: petite ouverture en forme de mErCE CunninGHAm
Christian Wolff, Quinta, George Lewis, John King

7. EVENT – full ensemble

PROGRAM B: Friday, February 24

1. George Lewis: Shadowgraph, 5
Joan La Barbara, George Lewis, Ikue Mori, Zeena Parkins, Quinta, Fast Forward

2. Zeena Parkins: Captiva Pieces for Acoustic Harp and Processing
Zeena Parkins, David Behrman

3. David Behrman: Long Throw
David Behrman, Christian Wolff, John King George Lewis, Zeena Parkins, Quinta

4. Ikue Mori:
solo : Ikue Mori
duo : Ikue Mori, Christian Wolff


5. Earle Brown: December 1952 and November 1952
(performed simultaneously)
Zeena Parkins, Joan La Barbara, Quinta, George Lewis, Philip Selway, Christian Wolff

6. Fast Forward: Octopoda
Fast Forward, Ikue Mori, Phil Selway, George Lewis

7. EVENT – full ensemble

About Guest Curator John King
John King is a composer, guitarist, and violinist who has worked collaboratively with the Kronos Quartet, Ethel, and Bang On a Can All-Stars, Avant Media, and the Belgrade Philharmonic, as well as the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, New York City Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, and Mannheim Ballet. He has written several operas, and he was the Co-Director of the Music Committee for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 2003-2011.

Merce Cunningham: Common Time
Walker Art Center February 8-July 30, 2017

Merce Cunningham’s dynamic artistic collaborations are the subject of a major interdisciplinary survey organized by the Walker, home to the complete scenic and costume archive of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (MCDC). Renowned as both choreographer and dancer, Cunningham (American, 1919–2009) revolutionized dance through his partnerships with leading artists who created costumes, lighting, films, music, and décor and whose independent creative instincts he held in the highest regard. Common Time offers a journey through a range of experiential installations that unfold at the Walker in seven galleries, the Walker’s McGuire Theater, the Walker Cinema, and public spaces throughout the museum.

Exploring Cunningham’s notion that movement, sound, and visual art could share a “common time,” the exhibition presents Cunningham’s work through rare and never-before seen moving image presentations and installations of stage décor and costumes from the MCDC Collection. These are contextualized through more than 60 works from a range of artists, including composer John Cage, Cunningham’s lifelong collaborator, and William Anastasi, Charles Atlas, Trisha Brown, Tacita Dean, Jasper Johns, Morris Graves, Rei Kawakubo, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Isamu Noguchi, Nam June Paik, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, Elaine Summers, David Tudor, Stan VanDerBeek, Andy Warhol, and many others.

Cunningham embraced an expanded possibility of dance, music, and visual art that reads like a how-to guide for pushing the boundaries of art for subsequent generations. In this spirit, the exhibition will also feature new performing arts commissions as well as live dance and music in the theater and galleries. Presentations include a series of in-gallery Events, site-responsive collages of Cunningham repertory performed by dancers from the final company as well as new commissions from leading figures in contemporary choreography and composition, including Charles Atlas, Beth Gill, Maria Hassabi, John King, Rashaun Mitchell, and Silas Riener, among others.

The landmark exhibition will investigate the unique working methods, profound relationships, and influence of a choreographer whose singular approach to sharing a “common time” remains one of the most inspirational models of the 20th century for interdisciplinary practice.

Merce Cunningham: Common Time is organized by the Walker Art Center, and copresented with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. The exhibition is curated by Fionn Meade and Philip Bither with Joan Rothfuss and Mary Coyne.

Walker Art Center Related Events:
Merce Cunningham: Common Time Performance

Revolutionary artists Merce Cunningham and his partner and collaborator John Cage radically remade dance and music over six decades, transforming our perception of the world. As part of the exhibition Merce Cunningham: Common Time—the largest survey of his work yet mounted—Cunningham-connected movement and music performances will span the Walker’s stages, galleries, and public spaces.

This extensive interdisciplinary show features live dance and music in the theater as well as the galleries, including stagings of Cunningham’s choreography by dancers from the final company and new dance commissions in his spirit. These new works include pieces by Beth Gill, Maria Hassabi, and Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener with Charles Atlas—all of whom, like Cunningham before them, make individualistic forms of rigorously abstract movement art propelling today’s dance forward.

The Walker’s Merce Cunningham Dance Company Collection forms the backbone of the Walker-organized exhibition, exploring the lasting impact of one of America’s most important figures in contemporary art.

Tickets to Music for Merce are $28 ($22.40 Walker members) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600

The Walker Art Center’s performing arts programs are made possible by generous support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation through the Doris Duke Performing Arts Fund, the William and Nadine McGuire Commissioning Fund, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Producers’ Council
Performing Arts programs and commissions at the Walker are generously supported by members of the Producers’ Council: Goodale Family Foundation; Nor Hall and Roger Hale; King’s Fountain/Barbara Watson Pillsbury and Henry Pillsbury; Emily Maltz; Dr. William W. and Nadine M. McGuire; Leni and David Moore, Jr./The David and Leni Moore Family Foundation; Mike and Elizabeth Sweeney; and Frances and Frank Wilkinson.

Merce Cunningham: Common Time is organized by the Walker Art Center. Lead support for the project is provided by the Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Generous support is also provided by Agnes Gund and the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.

Major support for the Walker’s commissions and presentation is provided by the William and Nadine McGuire Commissioning Fund, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Additional support is generously provided by Molly Davies, the Goodale Family Foundation, the HRK Foundation, Pamela and C. Richard Kramlich, the McKnight Foundation, Leni and David Moore, Jr./The David and Leni Moore Family Foundation, Linda and Larry Perlman, Barbara Pine, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and the Unity Avenue Foundation in memory of Sage and John Cowles. Media partner Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.

Photo: Courtesy Walker Art Center Archives