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Meredith Monk

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Meredith Monk is primarily known for her vocal innovations, including a wide range of extended techniques, which she first developed in her solo performances before forming her own ensemble. In 1964, she graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and in 1968 she founded The House, a company dedicated to an interdisciplinary approach to performance. Her performances influenced many artists, including Bruce Nauman, whom she met in San Francisco in 1968. In 1978 Monk formed the ensemble called Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble (modelled after similar ensembles of musical colleagues such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass) to explore new and wider vocal textures and forms which often were contrasted with minimal instrumental textures. Powerful and influential pieces from this time include Dolmen Music (1979), which also was recorded for her first album released at Manfred Eicher’s record label ECM in 1981. In the 1980s she wrote and directed two films, Ellis Island (1981), and Book of Days (1988), which developed from a single idea; “One day during summer of 1984, as I was sweeping the floor of my house in the country, the image of a young girl (in black and white) and a medieval street in the Jewish community (also in black and white) came to me”, as Monk recounts in the liner notes of the ECM-recording.

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