Carleton hosts artistic collaboration, “For the Birds”

18 January 2018

Acclaimed new music ensemble Zeitgeist will join composer Victor Zupanc and humorist Kevin Kling for a performance of their 2010 collaboration, “For the Birds,” a rumination on healing and humanity brought to the stage with music, stories and poetry. This free and not-to-be-missed performance is Thursday, Jan. 25 from 8:15 to 9:45 p.m. in the Kracum Performance Hall at Carleton College.

“For the Birds” is a concert-length chamber suite with narration by Zupanc and Kling, along with musical accompaniment by Zeitgeist, internationally acclaimed for superb craftsmanship, virtuosic performance, and an innovative approach to the presentation of contemporary music.

Co-written by Kling and Zupanc, “For the Birds” is, on the surface, seems to be about birds. It features a series of musical pieces extolling the nature of each particular bird (sparrows, roosters, woodpeckers, Canadian geese, hawks), drawing parallels with our own human nature. Interspersed between, is insightful storytelling created by Kling reflecting on childhood memories, immigration, illness, accidents, and healing. However, just below the surface, “For the Birds” is a work about that part of our human nature that compels us to reach beyond ourselves for more—more opportunity for our family, more money, more fun, more speed, more knowledge, more love.

When all goes well, we call that need aspiration. When it doesn’t, and we plunge to the earth with melting wings, we call it hubris. Through utterly delightful music and a worldview only Kling can provide, “For the Birds” gives us the space to contemplate our nature, laugh at ourselves, and heal.

A well-known playwright and storyteller, Kling has had his plays and adaptations performed around the world. He is best known for his regular contributions to National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and his autobiographical tales of immigration, life in rural Minnesota, and living with a disability, which he shares on stage. Since graduating with a degree in theater from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1979, Kling has been recognized by The National Endowment for the Arts, The McKnight Foundation, The Minnesota State Arts Board, The Bush Foundation, The Jerome Foundation and others. In 2014, Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak named Kling “Minneapolis Story Laureate.”

Canadian composer Zupanc began his musical career studying violin and piano as a child in British Columbia. Since 1983, he has composed, directed, and designed over 300 theatrical productions around the world, working at some of the most respected theaters in the country including The La Jolla Playhouse, The Kennedy Center, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, and The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. He has worked as the Music Director/Composer at the Tony Award-winning Children’s Theater Company of Minneapolis since 1989. A two-time recipient of The Theater Critics Circle Award for his theater scores, Zupanc has twice received a Hollywood DramaLogue Award for his work.

An innovative force in new music, St. Paul-based Zeitgeist commissions and presents a variety of new music for audiences in the Twin Cities and across the country. Comprised of percussion, woodwinds, and piano, Zeitgeist includes Carleton professor of music Nicola Melville as its pianist, along with Heather Barringer and Patti Cudd on percussion and Pat O’Keefe on woodwinds. Lauded for providing “a once-in-a-lifetime experience for adventurous concertgoers,” Zeitgeist has dedicated itself to the creation of new music for the past three decades, commissioning more than 400 works and collaborating with emerging and established composers. Always eager to explore new artistic frontiers, Zeitgeist collaborates with poets, choreographers, directors, visual artists and sound artists of all types to create imaginative new work that challenges the boundaries of traditional chamber music. Learn more at their website.

“For the Birds” is free and open to the public. It is presented in collaboration with the Northfield Arts Guild. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-4475. The Kracum Performance Hall is located in the Weitz Center for Creativity at 320 East Third Street in Northfield.

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