MEREDITH MONK is a composer, singer, and creator of new opera and music theater works. A pioneer in what is now called “extended vocal technique” and “interdisciplinary performance,” Monk has been hailed as a “magician of the voice,” and “one of America’s coolest composers.” Her groundbreaking exploration of the voice as an instrument, as an eloquent language in and of itself, expands the boundaries of musical composition, creating landscapes of sound that unearth feelings, energies, and memories for which we have no words. During a career that spans more than 40 years, she has been acclaimed by audiences and critics as a major creative force in the performing arts.
Monk has received numerous awards, including the prestigious MacArthur “Genius” Award in 1995, two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Brandeis Creative Arts Award, three Obies (including an award for Sustained Achievement), two Villager Awards, two “Bessie” Awards for Sustained Creative Achievement. In 2006 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and named a United States Artists Fellow. Her music has also been heard in numerous films, including La Nouvelle Vague by Jean-Luc Godard and The Big Lebowski by Joel and Ethan Coen. In 2000, Monk began a publishing relationship with Boosey & Hawkes, making her scores, including the recently released Piano Album, available to the public.
In 1965 Monk began her innovative exploration of the voice as a multi-faceted instrument and subsequently composed and performed many solo pieces for unaccompanied voice and voice/keyboard. In 1978 she formed Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble to further expand her musical textures and forms.
Monk’s first orchestra piece, Possible Sky, was commissioned by Michael Tilson Thomas for the New World Symphony and premiered in April 2003 in Miami. Stringsongs, her first composition for string quartet (commissioned by the Kronos Quartet), had its world premiere at the Barbican Center in London in January 2005. In November 2005, Meredith’s 40th year of performing and creating new music was celebrated by a four-hour marathon at Zankel Hall with performances by Björk, Bang on a Can All-Stars, DJ Spooky, John Zorn, the Pacific Mozart Ensemble, Ursula Oppens and Bruce Brubaker, and The Roches, among others. Another marathon, Meredith Monk Music @ The Whitney was presented at the Whitney Museum in 2009, followed by the site-specific Ascension Variations at the Guggenheim Museum featuring over 120 performers. Monk’s CD, impermanence, was released on the ECM label in March 2008 and nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award®. Beginnings, a collection of her archival recordings from 1966-1980, was recently released on the Tzadik label. Her new music theater work, Songs of Ascension, which premiered in October 2008, was performed at BAM’s Next Wave Festival in October 2009, and is currently touring internationally.