The Crossing, a professional chamber choir conducted by Donald Nally and dedicated to new music, today announced its new 2018-19 season. The Philadelphia-based ensemble – which in January won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance with its ECM recording of The Fifth Century by Gavin Bryars – will present an ambitious range of concerts centered around themes of exploring our place in the universe, the relationships between humans, navigating through space and life, and the passage of time. Titled “Aniara,” the coming season features The Crossing’s New York Philharmonic and Peak Performances debuts, the world premiere of the choral-theater work Aniara – fragments of time and space; and world premieres by Gavin Bryars, Michael Gordon, Thomas Lloyd, and Toivo Tulev.
“’Aniara’ is a season of questions: periodic pauses in a year of self-reflection, a view of our world from the inside, as we race through space with the progress of a bubble in glass,” Nally said in a press statement. “The 24 voices of The Crossing will perform new works that look at conflict, change, regression, spirituality, hope, cultures of oppression, cultures of love, a dying earth, and the search for meaning in a world that has no tomorrow. These questions will propel us across the country, from our home in Philadelphia, to join like-minded ensembles, venues, and festivals with greater breadth than ever before. We sing for understanding, for clarity, for authenticity.”
The season starts on Sept. 16 with a performance at FringeArts in Philadelphia as part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, featuring a world premiere from Ted Hearne, co-commissioned by Park Avenue Armory and The Crossing, alongside works by Toivo Tulev, David Lang, Louis Andriessen, Sebastian Currier, and others. The program, titled “Arms and the Man,” explores themes of nationalism, war, victory, and loss. It repeats on Sept. 19 and 20 at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, in an expanded presentation that spreads throughout the historic venue’s reception room.
The Crossing makes its debut at Peak Performances at Montclair State University, in Montclair, NJ, on Sept. 29 with a program titled ‘the national anthems,’ presented in collaboration with the International Contemporary Ensemble. The concert explores patriotism and nationalism, and looks the ways words are used to describe desires, fears, and needs pertaining to homelands and homelessness. The program is anchored by David Lang’s the national anthems together with Ted Hearne’s Consent and What it might say, in addition to Caroline Shaw’s To the Hands, an exploration of diaspora and displacement.
On Oct. 27 at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia, The Crossing presents the world premiere of Gregory Spears’s The Tower. Based on texts by Thomas Merton and Denise Levertov, the piece explores technological innovation and its dangers. The concert features further works written for The Crossing, including Joel Puckett’s I enter the earth (2015), and a new work by James Primosch set to an excerpt from Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping.
On Dec. 14, 2018 at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA, The Crossing gives its annual Christmas concert, The Crossing @ Christmas, presented by Annenberg Live. The concert is in memorial of Jeffrey Dinsmore, co-founder of The Crossing, and features a major world premiere by Gavin Bryars, composer of The Fifth Century, for which The Crossing won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance. The program repeats on Dec. 16 at The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill.
On Jan. 24, 2019, The Crossing makes its New York Philharmonic debut in the world premiere in Julia Wolfe’s Fire in my mouth, conducted by Jaap van Zweden at David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center. The work focuses on the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City — which killed 146 garment workers, most of them young, female immigrants — and how women’s protests instigated changes in labor laws. The performances are part of New York Stories: Threads of Our City, the New York Philharmonic’s exploration of musical expressions of the immigrant experience. Additional performances follow on Jan. 25 and 26.
David Lang’s the little match girl passion and music by Louis Andriessen, Ēriks Ešenvalds, Ted Hearne, and Gabriel Jackson are featured in a five-city tour that begins on Feb. 6, 2019 at Salisbury University, with further performances Feb. 7 at the Delaware Art Museum; Feb. 8 at Rowan University; Feb. 9 at Duke University; and Feb. 10 at Notre Dame University.
On March 30 and 31, 2019 at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, The Crossing presents the world premiere of Thomas Lloyd’s In the Light, a choral-theater work for 20 voices. In the Light explores the strange and oppressive culture of a Cape Cod religious community with an internationally recognized choir, examining the desire to belong and the fear of exclusion. This is the second choral-theater work Lloyd has composed for The Crossing; his previous work Bonhoeffer, written for The Crossing, was nominated for a 2017 Grammy Award.
The Crossing gives the world premiere performance of the choral-theater work Aniara – fragments of time and space, on June 20, 2019 at Christ Church Neighborhood House in Philadelphia, with further performances June 21-23. Based on the epic science fiction poem of the same name by Nobel Prize-winner Henry Martinson, Aniara explores the relationships humans have to each other through the physical and emotional voyage of a group that has left a dying earth and is thrown permanently off course, heading toward the constellation Lyra. Composed by Robert Maggio, the new work was developed over a period of three years with the Klockriketeatern of Helsinki, with artistic direction by Dan Henriksson and Donald Nally and featuring Beijing Opera-inspired choreography and dance by Antti Silvennoinen of Wusheng Company, costumes by Erika Turunen, scenic and lighting design by Joonas Tikkanen, and sound design by Nick Tipp.
To close the 2018-19 season, The Crossing returns to The Big Sky Choral Initiative for a two-week residency July 15-28, 2019 at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Gallatin Gateway, Montana. The Crossing will join composer Michael Gordon and filmmaker Bill Morrison in their second year of collaboration on a new work specific to this unique gathering at Big Sky.