Meredith Monk and Ann Hamilton at the Walker

Meredith Monk and Ann Hamilton, “Songs of Ascension,” 2008. Photo: Marion Gray. Courtesy of the Walker Art Center.

If you missed last week’s collaborative performance by composer Meredith Monk and Season 1 artist Ann Hamilton at the Walker Art Center, you can still listen to an audio clip on the Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) website or watch a video on the Walker’s blog.

According to MPR, Monk’s score for Songs of Ascension was in part inspired by a cement tower Hamilton built in California; Monk describes the tower as a sort of “architectural vocal cord.” Hamilton’s video component is a series of moving images: a running horse, a flying heron, and a sailing ship that float across the stage and walls of the theater. Hamilton likes to think of her video as “the weather in which Monk’s music and movement is performed.” Monk first came up with the idea for this piece when a Zen abbot spoke to her of the Songs of Ascents–songs which Jews were believed to have sung in Biblical times on pilgrimages to Jerusalem and up Mt. Zion. Songs of Ascension explores the spiritual, vocal, and physical notions of ascension across geography and time.

Currently a work-in-progress, the official premiere of Songs of Ascension will be held at Stanford University this fall.


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