David LangWords and Music
Performers Wendy Whelan and Maya Beiser
Choreography Lucinda Childs
Words and Music David Lang
Thursday, February 27, 2020 | 7:30pm
Friday, February 28, 2020 | 7:30pm
Herbst TheatreVenue Information
About This Performance
Ground-breaking dancer Wendy Whelan, legendary choreographer Lucinda Childs, renowned cellist/creative producer Maya Beiser and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang partner for the Bay Area premiere of The Day. The bold, collaborative evening is a sensory exploration of interconnected human journeys—life and the eternal—as seen through the shared languages of music and dance.
“She’s the best,” says Mikhail Baryshnikov of Wendy Whelan. “There’s a complexity, a sense of internal life, a woman on stage. You’re always trying to decode this person when she moves.”
“She summons from her instrument an emotional power so stirring that even the most stoic audience members risk turning into sobbing sacks of flesh, reports The New York Times of Maya Beiser.”
Wendy Whelan, widely considered one of the world’s leading dancers, began dance lessons at the age of three with Virginia Wooton in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. At the age of eight, she performed as a mouse in the Louisville Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker. From that first performance, she was smitten. “Once I got to perform—to see the dancers and to have an orchestra playing right there in the pit, and see stage makeup, see the costume designs up close—once I knew ballet was a collaborative effort for all of these incredible artists, that’s when I knew I wanted to do it for the rest of my life.”
Wendy began intense professional training at the Louisville Ballet Academy. In 1981, her teachers, Cecile Gibson and Robert Dicello, encouraged Wendy to audition for Suzanne Farrell, who was scouting students for the School of American Ballet, the training ground for New York City Ballet and top ballet companies around the world, co-founded in 1933 by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein. Wendy was accepted to the summer program at age 14; a year later, after her second summer program, she moved to New York to continue her studies as a full-time student. In 1984, she was named an apprentice with New York City Ballet and joined the corps de ballet a year later.
Wendy went on to spend 30 years at New York City Ballet, dancing virtually all the major Balanchine roles, and working closely with Jerome Robbins on many of his ballets and originating roles in ballets by such notable choreographers as William Forsythe, Twyla Tharp, Alexei Ratmansky, Christopher Wheeldon, Jorma Elo, Shen Wei, and Wayne MacGregor. She was promoted to soloist in 1989 and to principal dancer in 1991.
Her most notable choreographic collaboration at NYCB was with Christopher Wheeldon, who created roles for Wendy in 13 of his ballets, including Polyphonia, Liturgy, and After the Rain. At his own company, Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, Chris again chose Wendy for several new works, and in 2007, she was nominated in London for both an Olivier Award and a Critics Circle Award for her performances.
Wendy has been a guest artist with The Royal Ballet and the Kirov Ballet and has perfomed all over the U.S., South America, Europe, and Asia. She received the Dance Magazine Award in 2007, and in 2009 was given a Doctorate of Arts, honoris causa, from Bellarmine University. In 2011, she received both The Jerome Robbins Award and a Bessie Award for her Sustained Achievement in Performance.
In 2012, as her career at New York City Ballet began to wind down, Wendy began to develop new collaborative projects. Her inaugural project, Restless Creature, premiered at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in 2013. “I needed some new inspirations and some new challenges in my life,” she says. “Being a ballet dancer I was feeling the end of something, and I needed the beginning of something else. Restless Creature is an exploration for me. I chose four young male choreographers from the contemporary world to make works for me to dance with them.” The works created by these four dancer/choreographers—Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Bryan Brooks, and Alejandro Cerrudo—were presented together on one program and premiered in August 2013 at The Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. In summer 2014, Restless Creature will travel to London and Vail, and will start a U.S. tour in January 2015.
One week after the Jacob’s Pillow performances, Wendy had reconstructive surgery on her hip. After months of rehabilitation and physical therapy, she returned to the stage to perform during New York City Ballet’s spring 2014 season. Wendy’s final performance with New York City Ballet is scheduled for October 18, 2014, but her career continues: Her second solo project, a full evening of new works, choreographed for Wendy and Edward Watson of The Royal Ballet, is scheduled to premiere at the Royal Opera House in London in 2015. In addition, Wendy was recently appointed an artistic associate at New York City Center for two years, starting November 2014.
Describing renowned cellist, producer, and multifaceted artist Maya Beiser, the New York Times writes, “The adventurous Ms. Beiser has been called the ‘cello goddess,’ which is not hyperbole: She summons from her instrument an emotional power so stirring that even the most stoic audience members risk turning into sobbing sacks of flesh.” Passionately forging her artistic path through uncharted territories, Maya Beiser has been captivating audiences worldwide, bringing a bold and unorthodox presence to contemporary classical music, experimenting with various musical styles, and defying conventional norms with her boundary-crossing performances. Hailed as “the reigning queen of avant-garde cello” by The Washington Post, she has been called a “cello rock star,” by Rolling Stone and praised as “a force of nature,” by The Boston Globe.
Raised in the Galilee Mountains in Israel, by her Argentinean father and French mother, Maya spent her early life surrounded by the music and rituals of Jews, Muslims, and Christians, while studying classical cello repertoire. At the age of 12, she was discovered by the late violinist Isaac Stern who became her mentor throughout her early career. Reinventing solo cello performance in the mainstream arena, Maya is a featured performer on the world’s most prestigious stages including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Brooklyn Academy of Music, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, London’s Southbank Centre, Royal Albert Hall and the Barbican, the Sydney Opera House, the Beijing Festival, Barcelona’s L’Auditori, Paris’ Cité de la Musique, and Stockholm’s Concert Hall. Among the wide range of artists with whom she has collaborated are Louis Andriessen, Philip Glass, Tan Dun, Steve Reich, Brian Eno, Mark Anthony-Turnage, Shirin Neshat, Erin Cressida-Wilson, Bill Morrison, Robert Woodruff, Missy Mazolli, David Lang, Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe, Evan Ziporyn, Pontus Lidberg, Wendy Whelan, Lucinda Childs, and Joe Hisaishi.
Maya’s critically acclaimed multimedia productions World To Come, Almost Human, Provenance, Elsewhere: A Cello Opera, and All Vows have consistently been chosen for top critics’ “Best Of The Year” lists. Her recent season highlights include featured solo performances at the Barbican’s Sound Unbound and Kings Place’s Cello Unwrapped festivals in London, Cello Biennale in Amsterdam, Festival MANN in Naples, Italy and Strings for Autumn Festival in Prague; two new concerto premieres, Mohammed Fairouz’s cello concerto with the Detroit Symphony and Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Maya with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra; Bowie Symphonic: Blackstar, a collaboration with Evan Ziporyn that reimagines David Bowie’s complete final album as a cello concerto, with performances in Boston, Barcelona, New York’s Central Park SummerStage, and a 2018 U.S. tour; Spinning, a new collaboration with composer Julia Wolfe and visual artist Laurie Olinder, commissioned and premiered by Peak Performances at Montclair State University; her debut solo performance at the BBC Proms; and premiere performances of a cello concerto by the celebrated Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi at Carnegie Hall and in Tokyo, Japan. Maya is currently at work on The Day, a music-dance collaboration with dancer Wendy Whelan choreographed by Lucinda Childs with music by David Lang, premiering at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in August 2019.
Highlights of Maya’s tours include performances at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, Celebrity Series in Boston, Ojai Music Festival, International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, and major venues and festivals in Paris, Amsterdam, Torino, Milano, Tokyo, Taipei, Athens, Mexico City, Havana, Bogota and Adelaide. She has appeared with many of the world’s top orchestras performing new works for the cello including the Detroit Symphony, Montreal Symphony, BBC Concert Orchestra, Boston Pops, Sydney Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Nashville Symphony, China Philharmonic, Shanghai Philharmonic, Barcelona Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, among many others.
Maya’s vast discography includes eleven solo albums. Her recent albums TranceClassical (2016), Maya Beiser: Uncovered (2014) and Provenance (2012), topped the classical music charts. In 2018 she released The Day, a collaboration with the composer David Lang. She is the featured soloist on many film soundtracks, including an extensive collaboration with composer James Newton Howard for M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening and After Earth, Denzel Washington’s The Great Debaters, Edward Zwick’s Blood Diamond, and Rupert Sanders’ Snow White and the Huntsman. Her performance of Lang’s World to Come IV has been featured on the soundtrack for Paolo Sorrentino’s Oscar winning film, La Grande Bellezza.
Maya Beiser is a 2015 United States Artists (USA) Distinguished Fellow in Music; a 2017 Mellon Distinguished Visiting Artist at MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology; and was recently a Presenting Artist at the inaugural CultureSummit, held in 2017 in Abu Dhabi. Invited to present at the prestigious TED main stage in Long Beach, CA, Maya’s 2011 TED Talk has been watched by over one million people and translated to 32 languages. She has been featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts and All Things Considered, PBS News Hour, and the BBC World News. Maya is a graduate of Yale University and a founding member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars.