Called “outstanding” by the San Francisco Chronicle, “transcendent” by the Charleston City Paper, and “a fully distorted perpetual motion of awesome” by I Care If You Listen, The Living Earth Show (guitarist Travis Andrews and percussionist Andy Meyerson) is a megaphone and canvas for some of the world’s most progressive artists. One of the premiere contemporary music ensembles in the United States, The Living Earth Show received the grand prize in the SAVVY Chamber Arts Competition and open category runner-up in the M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition, commissioned and premiered over 50 new works by some of the most vital composers in the world, released two critically acclaimed albums, and has performed, lectured, and given masterclasses across the country.
Memorizing every work it performs, The Living Earth Show thrives on pushing the boundaries of technical and artistic possibility in its presentation of commissioned electro-acoustic chamber music. The ensemble has commissioned and premiered works by such composers as Anna Meredith, Timo Andres, Nicole Lizée, M. Lamar, Raven Chacon, Brian Ferneyhough, Samuel Adams, Ken Ueno, Luciano Chessa, Sharmi Basu, Ted Hearne, Jon Russell, Morgan Craft, Adrian Knight, Alden Jenks, Nick Vasallo, and Zachary James Watkins. Many of these commissions can be found on the group’s critically acclaimed albums High Art (Innova Records, 2013) and Dance Music (New Amsterdam Records, 2016).
The Living Earth Show’s 2017-18 season will be the organization’s largest and most ambitious to date. The season starts with Abraham In Flames, an opera with composer Aleksandra Vrebalov, librettist Niloufar Talebi, and Young Women’s Choral Projects. Inspired by Iranian poet Ahmad Shamlou, the opera will investigate the passage of art from one generation to the next through the adaptation of Shamlou’s writings.
The season continues with Echoes: an opera created and presented in collaboration with Kronos Quartet, Youth Speaks, and composer Danny Clay. The work was born of a desire to create an “opera” that elevates some today’s the most important voices: the poets of Youth Speaks, an organization designed to use the intersection of arts education and youth development practices, civic engagement strategies, and high quality artistic presentation to creates safe spaces that challenge young people to find, develop, publicly present, and apply their voices as creators of societal change. Turning the traditional operatic form on its head, Clay will set the text written and spoken by Youth Speaks poets with a “pit orchestra” comprised of The Living Earth Show and Kronos Quartet, creating an interrogation of a changing San Francisco—and the structures that define it.
The season also features M. Lamar’s Lordship & Bondage: The Birth of the Negro Superman, an investigation of the intersection of sexuality and race. An evening-length song cycle for the trio of The Living Earth Show and M. Lamar with staging and video installation, the work exhibits M. Lamar’s trademark blend of heavy metal, doom, opera, camp and political allegory with a libretto based on the writings of Nietzsche, Hegel and Sun Ra.
Throughout 2017-18, The Living Earth Show will also premiere the complete cycle of 24 Preludes & Fugues: 48 short pieces for invented instruments in 24 different tuning systems created by composer, sculptor, and instrument builder Dennis Aman. Featuring works for amplified Jell-O, a go-kart fitted with an organ pedalboard, and a 23-note-to-the-octave washing machine, all 48 preludes and fugues will be presented over the course of twelve months.
Foregrounding concepts of radical transparency, diversity, and inclusion, AFFIRMATIVE ACTION—a concert composed of works by Zachary Watkins, Raven Chacon, Sharmi Basu, Morgan Craft, and Ava Mendoza—is the organization’s final 2017-18 production. Each individual work, and the concert as a whole, is intended to dialogue with and interrogate the idea of the ‘lens of whiteness’—the idea that it is impossible for whiteness to not refract the institutional presentation and consumption of the work of artists of color. The collaborating artists are excited to put a magnifying glass to the relationship between the composers (all of whom are artists of color for whom racial identity plays an integral role in the work practice) and the performing ensemble (of which both members are white men) to ask the question: who is really speaking for whom?
Throughout the season, the Living Earth Show will continue to perform and record with COMMANDO: an organizational initiative designed to promote queer and trans artists working outside of (or often excluded from) the western classical tradition. Using heavy metal as a platform upon which to elevate queer and trans vocalists and celebrate the folk traditions from which The Living Earth Show’s instruments were born, foregrounds some of the most notable queer vocalists in the country to create new collaborative works of nü metal and present them in the rock clubs of San Francisco.