Arts and Entertainment | Music

Miller honors avant-garde composer with 3 performances

  • zorn this way | Avant-garde composer John Zorn’s most prominent pieces will be performed Sept. 25-27 in Miller Theatre as part of a city-wide commemoration of his 60th birthday.

Four decades of compositions by avant-garde composer John Zorn will culminate in a three-day celebration this week at Miller Theatre. The music icon celebrates his 60th birthday at Miller Theatre with more than 100 musicians from Wednesday to Friday, showcasing a musical amalgam that ranges from an 80-piece orchestra to a cello trio. 

“Zorn@60” also marks Miller Theater’s 25th anniversary and is an opportunity to hear some of his “rarely performed and utterly exceptional” works, Miller Theatre Executive Director Melissa Smey said.

Staying true to his experimental fusion of styles ranging from jazz to extreme metal to classical, Zorn exhibits a melting pot of genres that matches the multifaceted metropolis of New York, which he calls home.

Smey said Zorn is one of her “all-time favorite composers.”

A 2007 recipient of the School of the Arts William Schuman Award, Zorn continues to share his music with Columbia, this time with a team of hand-selected musicians. Violinist Christopher Otto will solo with the orchestra, then join the Talea Ensemble and other musicians for the chamber music section. The final night will feature many of Zorn’s longtime partners, including Cyro Baptista and Joey Baron on percussion, and Sylvie Courvoisier on piano. 

Zorn also uses his own performance venue, The Stone, and personal record label, Tzadik, to “support a vibrant and diverse community of artists, musicians, and composers,” Smey said. He has previously collaborated with Thurston Moore, of Sonic Youth. 

Under conductor David Fulmer, Zorn’s orchestra will present four pieces on opening night, including the U.S. premiere of the 2012 composition “Suppôts et Supplications.” World premieres of the composer’s latest chamber pieces, this year’s “Hexentarot” and “Maldoror,” as well as 2012’s “The Steppenwolf,” follow on the second evening. Zorn’s well-known “Game Pieces” will close the program on Friday, exhibiting structured improvisational works that were among Zorn’s earlier compositions. 

“Zorn@60” is not the musical icon’s first collaboration with Miller Theatre—he has been back “nearly every season” since his first concert in 2001, Smey said. 

“Zorn@60” will take place from Sept. 25-27 at Miller Theatre.

arts@columbiaspectator.com  |  @ColumbiaSpec

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