Pam Tanowitz/Kaija Saariaho/Brice Marden | Four Quartets

Wednesday 22–Saturday 25 May 2019

First published in the UK 75 years ago, Four Quartets is considered the crowning achievement of TS Eliot’s career as a poet. Now three visionaries, Pam Tanowitz, Kaija Saariaho and Brice Marden respond to the four-part poem in a ravishing union of dance, music and visual art, as the entire work is narrated by American actor Kathleen Chalfant. A Barbican co-commission and European premiere, this collaborative performance of the work is the first to be authorised by the TS Eliot Estate. A production of Bard Fisher Center, Four Quartets premiered at Bard SummerScape in July 2018 to critical acclaim, The New York Times calling it "the greatest creation of dance theater so far this century”.

Four Quartets is a mysterious meditation on past and present, time and space, movement and stillness, replete with images of dance. Celebrated New York-based choreographer Pam Tanowitz moves her ensemble of dancers lavishly through glorious solos and duets, as Kathleen Chalfant reads the dynamic and kinetic language of Four Quartets from the stage.

Four Quartets is performed by Kara Chan, Jason Collins, Dylan Crossman, Christine Flores, Zachary Gonder, Lindsey Jones, Victor Lozano, Maile Okamura and Melissa Toogood.

Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s beguiling new score is played live by violinist Colin Jacobsen (The Knights) and soloists from Barbican Associate Ensemble, Britten Sinfonia. The exquisite stage design by Clifton Taylor centres on paintings by major American artist Brice Marden, their colours and strokes making connections to the geographical locations in Four Quartets.

To mark the 75th anniversary of its UK publication by Faber & Faber in 1944, and to coincide with the production’s premiere at the Barbican, a special edition of Four Quartets is published on 16 May 2019, based on the design made by Giovanni Mardersteig for his letterpress edition of 1960.

New York based choreographer and collaborator Pam Tanowitz is known for her unflinchingly post-modern treatment of classical dance vocabulary. In 2000, she founded Pam Tanowitz Dance to explore dance-making with a consistent community of dancers. She has been commissioned by The Joyce Theater, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Bard Fisher Center, Vail International Dance Festival, New York Live Arts, The Guggenheim Museum’s Works & Process series, Danspace Project, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Chicago Dancing Festival, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Duke Performances, Peak Performances, FSU's Opening Nights Series, and the Institute for Contemporary Art/Boston.

In 2016, Tanowitz was presented with the Juried Bessie Award. Other honours include an Outstanding Production Bessie award in 2009 for her dance Be In the Gray With Me, a Foundation for Contemporary Arts award in 2010, Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011, the Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University in 2013-14, a Fall 2016 fellowship at the Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU, and named a 2016-2017 City Center Choreography Fellow. In 2017 she was awarded the Baryshnikov Art Center Cage Cunningham Fellowship. Her work was selected by The New York Times Best of Dance series in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. In 2019 she was appointed as the first Choreographer in Residence at Bard Fisher Center. The performances of Four Quartets at the Barbican mark Pam Tanowitz’s international debut.

Kaija Saariaho is a prominent member of a group of Finnish artists who are making a worldwide impact. She studied in Helsinki, Fribourg and Paris. At IRCAM, Saariaho developed techniques of computer-assisted composition and acquired fluency in working on tape and with live electronics. Saariaho has claimed the major composing awards: Grawemeyer Award, Wihuri Prize, Nemmers Prize, Sonning Prize, Polar Music Prize. In 2015 she was the judge of the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award.

Brice Marden was born in 1938 in Bronxville, New York. His work has been exhibited internationally at Dia Center for the Arts, New York, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Miami Art Museum, Florida, Carnegie Museum of Modern Art, Pittsburgh, Instituto Nationale per la Grafica, Rome and MoMA, New York. Marden is represented by Gagosian.


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