In 2019-20, the ferociously creative percussion-guitar duo The Living Earth Show (Travis Andrews and Andy Meyerson) celebrates its tenth anniversary with a slate of projects and original collaborations, each radically different but distinctly shaped by The Living Earth Show’s fierce and virtuosic voice. Built on repertoire that springs from The Living Earth Show’s mission to commission, collaborate, and amplify vital creators from a truly diverse range of communities – including crucial artists from communities that are often marginalized and overlooked by the traditional US arts institutions – the season offers audiences in San Francisco and the United States an opportunity to hear work that challenges, engages, and inspires.
September 21, 2019: Humble Servant, Z Below
The Living Earth Show’s percussionist and artistic director Andy Meyerson offers an idiosyncratic recital of solo percussion recital of works exploring tension, resonance, ritual, and control–seeking out and deftly exploring the limits of what a percussionist, a performer, and the human body is capable. The result is a concert that in turn intense, emotional, unsettling, and beautiful. Repertoire includes new works written for Andy Meyerson by Adrian Knight, Sarah Hennies, Samuel Adams Christopher Cerrone, and Amadeus Regucera.
October 19, 2019: Tremble Staves (Raven Chacon), Sutro Baths
Presented outdoors at in the ruins of Sutro Baths in collaboration with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, Raven Chacon’s Tremble Staves is a ravishing, challenging, and ambitious site-specific evening-length work. Performed from memory on public land by The Living Earth Show on the shores and in the waters of Sutro Baths, Tremble Staves uses water, the cliffs of Lands End, and the Pacific Ocean as dynamic percussion instruments. The work connects narratives of the San Francisco Bay Area’s complicated relationship with water – usage, access, rights — to overlapping Navajo creation stories in which water figures prominently. Chacon explains: “On the surface, Tremble Staves is about water; the scarcity of it, especially in the desert where I am from, and of course its sacredness, we are water. But an artwork or music composition should not be what ultimately brings awareness to anyone at this point about the crisis we are facing. Perhaps we are doomed. The piece is the interactions and relationships that animals (people included) might have with each other, or with the land, or with nature, or with something else that we can’t comprehend, even at our most spiritual and vulnerable. The piece considers different moving and stationary bodies of water (tributaries, channels, sounds) as examples of these interactions; in how knowledge may be transferred, negotiated, shared, dispersed and even diluted. We wanted to bring this piece to the public, a site of water, of meditation. Of course anytime there is an opportunity to look at the ocean or the sky, one can attempt to peer toward infinity. We can be loud, and be seen from afar.”
January 22-28, 2020: Hyphen, Center for New Music
Curated by Farnood HaghaniPour, Hyphen serves as a celebration of the 80th birthday of Alireza Mashayekhi, the legendary Iranian composer often credited as being the first composer of contemporary classical music in Iran. His influence resonates throughout the generations of diaspora of Iranian composers, which is represented in Hyphen by Aida Shirazi, Farnood HaghaniPour, Nima Rowshan, and the world premiere of Mashayekhi’s new work Labyrinth II written for The Living Earth Show.
March 6, 2020: T.L.E.S.tival Night #1: Lordship & Bondage: The Birth of the Negro Superman (M. Lamar), ODC Theater
The theatrical male soprano, pianist, and composer M. Lamar—whose quasi-operatic creations grapple with issues of race, violence, desire, and liberation—collaborates with the San Francisco-based guitar-and-percussion duo the Living Earth Show in a new song cycle, “Lordship and Bondage: The Birth of the Negro Superman.” Almost entirely without words, it is a visceral response to notions drawn from Hegel, Nietzsche, and Sun Ra. The music conjures the ghostly plaint of rural blues and gospel singers, Diamanda Galás’s thunderous end-times arias, and the nihilistic menace of Scandinavian black metal—often all at once. (Steve Smith, New Yorker)
March 7, 2020: T.L.E.S.tival Night #2: Echoes (with Kronos Quartet, Youth Speaks, and Danny Clay) , ODC Theater
Echoes, a spoken word chamber opera, is a meditation on, interrogation of, and ode to San Francisco: the magical, troubling, and overwhelmingly complicated place all these artists call home. Composer Danny Clay, whose music is deeply rooted in curiosity and collaboration, worked closely with the artists and students to develop a piece that integrates elements of poetry, sound, and theater. The Living Earth Show is honored to join forces with two of San Francisco’s most influential. arts organizations to bring this work to vivid life. Kronos Quartet has spent four and a half decades redefining what a string quartet can be by responding to the world we share and expanding the understanding of music’s role as a powerful force in society. Youth Speaks, a force for good in San Francisco’s cultural life since its inception, represents an almost impossibly influential and impactful synthesis of artistic creation, education, and activism youth with limited access.
July, 2020: Lyra (Samuel Adams)
A new multimedia dance, musical, and visual art production, Lyra is the creation of acclaimed composer Samuel Adams (who was awarded the 2019 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship to create this work, and who wrote The Living Earth Show’s first-ever commission in 2010), choreographer Vanessa Thiessen, director Robert Dekkers, and The Living Earth Show. Lyra uses the story of Orpheus and Eurydice as the foundation for an exploration of the human condition in the modern era, and represents Samuel Adams’s and The Living Earth Show’s most ambitious work to date.
COMMANDO is a San Francisco-based collective of queer and trans artists, coming together together to use the traditionally heteronormative vocabulary of heavy metal, rap, and poetry as a unified site to aggressively celebrate queerness and dismantle heteropatriarchy. The project exists as a fabulously aggressive celebration of queerness created in collaboration with a San Francisco-based collective of queer and trans artists including Lynne Breedlove, Juba Kalamka, Honey Mahogany, Drew Arriola-Sands, and Krylon Superstar, and it will be touring throughout 2019-20.
Bursting with collaborative energy and joyful agency, reverberating with the distinctive spirit of San Francisco, this season offers a compelling portrait of The Living Earth Show entering its second decade: an ensemble that unifies diverse creations with a full-bodied commitment to the radical visions of collaborators, creating and performing with love and incomparable skill, inviting audiences to stay, listen, and engage.