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There and Back Again

Sunday, October 30, 2011 | 8:00 pm
Olin Hall | Bard College
Free and open to the public

There and Back Again is a celebration of three iconic female explorers — women whose strength of will enabled them to go places, in mind and in body, to which no one had ever gone before. Through the music, theater, dance, and film within this exciting, multimedia event, the dauntless souls of Amelia Earhart, Yoani Sánchez, and Lewis Carroll's Alice will not just be celebrated, but flung into the stars in our own take on one of the most ancient human traditions: the immortalization of our heroes. Contemporaneous has assembled an all-star cast of young artists on the cutting edge of their fields to create this unforgettable celebration of passion, determination, and three women who pushed to the outer limits of their worlds in search of their dreams.

Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in 2008 for her critical portrayal of life in Cuba under its current government. With music by Paola Prestini and film by Carmen KordasYoani is a multimedia song cycle that is based on this powerful woman's portrayal of everyday Cuba found in Generation Y, the blog in which Sánchez continues her work. From the shortage of oranges to the wrenching journey of a trans woman Olivia, this work will celebrate the life of Yoani: an internet revolutionary who is bringing a voice to her generation. Mezzo-soprano Abigail Levis joins us to bring this piece to life.

A unique multimedia rendering of the fantastical odyssey of Lewis Carroll's renegade heroine from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the new work Alice is the result of a special collaboration of New York composer Matt Giannotti, choreographer Selina Chau, and award-winning filmmaker Erich Rettstadt. The three have collaborated extensively throughout the creation of the piece, making an exciting synthesis of art forms. The chamber orchestra score maps the story with extraordinary detail, capturing the wittiness and sincerity of the classic tale with deftness and joy. In this world premiere, dancer Julia Boudreaux Mayo will play the role of Alice, interacting with the orchestra and the original backdrop film.

The final work of the evening is Atlas of Somewhere on the Way to Howland Island, by Contemporaneous founding co-artistic director Dylan Mattingly. This epic and beautiful forty-minute poem for chamber orchestra is an emotional depiction of Amelia Earhart’s final journey. You can hear Earhart's journey in the music: her engine revving, crossing the endless blue, a stop in Tahiti, an elegy at the tragic end to the flight. The finale, though, features an incredible build to an overwhelmingly jubilant climax that sends Amelia's spirit out into the stars. Mattingly’s music has been described by new music pianist extraordinaire Sarah Cahill as “inspired by a diverse range of music including the blues, Bob Dylan, jazz, and the improv music that he himself performs...You get the sense he approaches these disparate idioms from the inside rather than from the outside.”


Paola Prestini (b. 1975): Yoani (2010)
Matt Giannotti (b. 1986): Alice (2011) — world premiere

— Intermission —

Dylan Mattingly (b. 1991): Atlas of Somewhere on the Way to Howland Island (2011)