Maya Beiser x Julia Wolfe
Conceived by Julia Wolfe and Maya Beiser
Music and Text by Julia Wolfe
Music and Stage Directed by Maya Beiser
Projection Art and Design by Laurie Olinder
Sound Designer: Dave Cook
Lighting Designer: Aaron Copp
Choreographer: Netta Yerushalmy
Projection Programmer: Simon Harding
Associate Lighting Designer: Jennifer Hill
Costume Designer: Diego Montoya
Produced by Islandia Music & Jensen Artists
Production Manager: Chris Roberts
Spinning was commissioned by Peak Performances at Montclair State University and made possible by The MAP Fund, which is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. World Premiere: May 2018, Peak Performances at Montclair State University.
Spinning is the first in-depth collaboration of composer Julia Wolfe and cellist Maya Beiser, and features projection art and design by Laurie Olinder.
Julia Wolfe is a Pulitzer Prize winner, MacArthur "Genius Grant" recipient, and recently earned enormous acclaim for Fire in my mouth, a new oratorio about the 1911 Triangle shirtwaist factory fire, which premiered at New York Philharmonic for sold-out audiences. Celebrated cellist Maya Beiser has been described by the Boston Globe as “a force of nature” and by Rolling Stone as a “cello rock star," and is a featured performer on the world’s most revered stages. Laurie Olinder is an award-winning multimedia designer, painter textile designer, and photographer, with work that has appeared at ART, BAM, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and MASS MoCA.
Spinning considers the essential labor of spinning thread – once performed by hand – paying homage to the human dignity of this work. Music has long been a vital part of this craft, both as a propelling force and as a distraction.
In Maya Beiser’s words, “I found in Julia’s music a rare quality – combining folk, rock and classical elements in a distinct and relentless energy. This collaboration is one that has been in our minds for many years, and we are thrilled to now embark on this journey together."
Wolfe and Beiser have teamed up with Laurie Olinder to create a visual universe for the piece, which explores the concept of spinning in the natural, human-made, and machine-made worlds. Netta Yerushalmy joined to choreograph, giving the performers, and their instruments, a gestural vocabulary that emulates the themes and contributes additional evocative sounds.
From spiders pulling silk from a gland and casting out lines, to humans, who have used tools from spindles to wheels to industrial machines, spinning is as old as time. Parallels between strung bows, cello strings, spinning patterns, frenetic bobbins, texture, textiles, and busy hands combine across Spinning with song and propel the work.
Spinning is available for touring in the 2020-2021 season.
Photo by ioulex
“Undoubtedly the star of the show, Beiser showcased a sensitive form of virtuosity that was framed and deftly supported by cellists Lavena Johanson and Melody Giron, who rounded out the trio of women commanding the stage . . . The only piece on the program, Spinning stood up proudly without want for anything more or anything less.”
– National Sawdust Log
"A musician with stunning technical resources and intense musical instincts"
– The Financial TImes
"Her playing has a muscular weight and integrity . . . and she lavishes a combination of technical agility and expressive eloquence."
– San Francisco Chronicle