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Meredith Monk On Q2's 'Spaces'

Meredith Monk. (Q2 Music)closemore
Meredith Monk. (Q2 Music)

For more than 40 years, one sprawling, light-drenched, fifth-floor loft in Tribeca has played home to the life and white-hot creative energies of composer, choreographer, dancer and joyfully pioneering singer Meredith Monk.

In this episode of Q2 Spaces, we tour the living quarters, urban fairy-tale rehearsal space and bathtub-adorned kitchen of the artist whose music Björk has described as "an oasis in a toxic environment ... breaking down a hole in the wall between us and our roots as humans sitting by fires and singing together." (Björk covered Monk's plaintive "Gotham Lullaby" on the 2012 album Monk Mix.)

Monk's upbringing included singing trios with her mother and sister while doing chores around the house. In this short film, she opens a window onto her life as a practicing Buddhist. We delve into her sculptured, cinematic approach to composition and the cultivation of a "beginner's mind." And we meet her turtle, Neutron, and her piano, Rose.

Monk describes her sound as "folk music from another planet," getting at what listeners have identified as a timeless mix of the ancient and the modern. It's the outgrowth of her early epiphany that the human voice could be treated as a part of the body, a profoundly physical and versatile instrument capable of uncharted expressive possibilities.

The MacArthur "genius" grant winner holds the Debs Composer Chair at Carnegie Hall, and she seeks collaborators who are generous, openhearted, fearless and poignantly aware of life's impermanence. There's no better encapsulation of what makes her music so unique, and no time better than the present to start listening.

Credits

Video: Kim Nowacki, Alex Ambrose; Executive Producers: Alex Ambrose, Mike Rinzel

Music

Courtesy of ECM Records

  • Meredith Monk, "Traveling"
  • Meredith Monk, "Double Fiesta"
  • Meredith Monk, "Ascent"
  • Meredith Monk, "Particular Dance"
  • Meredith Monk, "Gotham Lullaby"

Copyright NPR 2016.

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