Program Books/Ted Hearne and Saul Williams’ Place

Ted Hearne and Saul Williams’
Place

West Coast Premiere

Saturday, March 12, 2022, 8pm
Zellerbach Hall

This performance will last approximately 75 minutes and be performed without an intermission. 

This event is part of Cal Performances’ Illuminations: “Place and Displacement” programming for the 2021–22 season. 

From the Executive and Artistic Director

Jeremy Geffen

This weekend, Cal Performances proudly presents the West Coast premiere of Ted Hearne and Saul Williams’ Place (Mar 12), a semi-staged secular oratorio and a bold meditation on the topographies of gentrification and displacement. One of this season’s Illuminations “Place and Displace­ment” events (see our website for more information), Place was a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Music; it’s a remarkable work that I’m proud to see performed at UC Berkeley. (The recording for the New Amsterdam label captured the attention of the music world, earning two 2021 Grammy nominations—for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance and Best Contemporary Classical Composition.)

We’ll also be privileged to witness the unique communicative powers and vocal pyrotechnics of Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński (Mar 13) in a wide-ranging program featuring works by Handel and Purcell, along with a wonderful—and less familiar—selection of Polish songs by such accomplished composers as Henryk Czyż, Mieczy­sław Karłowicz, and Stanisław Moniuszko. It might surprise you to learn that, in his spare time, Orliński is also an accomplished breakdancer. (“In breaking, there is a lot of freedom,” he told ABC News on a recent Zoom call from Warsaw. “It feels like you are becoming…a visual effect of the music you hear, which is really freeing…. I treat it as a meditation.”). But if Orliński refrains from breaking during his Cal Performances debut at Hertz Hall this weekend, you can bet that his singing will be equally jaw-dropping. Orliński will be joined by his one-time Juilliard dormmate and frequent collaborator, Polish pianist Michał Biel.

March marks the time of year that traditionally finds Cal Performances operating on all cylinders. From now through the beginning of May, the remainder of our 2021­–22 season is packed with adventurous programming. You won’t want to miss…

  • the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (Mar 29 – Apr 3), returning to Zellerbach Hall for the first time since the initial pandemic shutdown in 2020; this year’s Ailey programs—featuring more than a dozen works from the company’s legendary repertory—have only recently been announced, so make sure to check our website for details
  • the one and only London Symphony Orchestra (Mar 20), appearing under the direction of luminary conductor Sir Simon Rattle in a program of orchestral masterworks
  • pianist extraordinaire Mitsuko Uchida playing and directing Mozart with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (Mar 27)
  • the renowned English Baroque Soloists with conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner in a transfixing program of works by Mozart and Haydn (Apr 10)
  • Angélique Kidjo, our 2021–22 artist-in-residence, in her new music-theater piece Yemandja (a much-anticipated Cal Performances co-commission and Illuminations event, Apr 23).

Fasten your seatbelts; we have all of this—plus much more—in store for you!

We’re very proud of our updated winter brochure and know that a few minutes spent reviewing our schedule—in print or online—will reveal a wealth of options for your calendar; now is the perfect time to guarantee that you have the best seats for all the events you plan to attend.

I know you join us in looking forward to what lies ahead, and to coming together once again to encounter the life-changing experiences that only the live performing arts deliver. We can’t wait to share it all with you during the coming months.

Jeremy Geffen
Executive and Artistic Director, Cal Performances

P.S. – Stay tuned for exciting news about our brilliant 2022–23 season, to be announced in April!

Jeremy GeffenThis weekend, Cal Performances proudly presents the West Coast premiere of Ted Hearne and Saul Williams’ Place (Mar 12), a semi-staged secular oratorio and a bold meditation on the topographies of gentrification and displacement. One of this season’s Illuminations “Place and Displace­ment” events (see our website for more information), Place was a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Music; it’s a remarkable work that I’m proud to see performed at UC Berkeley. (The recording for the New Amsterdam label captured the attention of the music world, earning two 2021 Grammy nominations—for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance and Best Contemporary Classical Composition.)

We’ll also be privileged to witness the unique communicative powers and vocal pyrotechnics of Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński (Mar 13) in a wide-ranging program featuring works by Handel and Purcell, along with a wonderful—and less familiar—selection of Polish songs by such accomplished composers as Henryk Czyż, Mieczy­sław Karłowicz, and Stanisław Moniuszko. It might surprise you to learn that, in his spare time, Orliński is also an accomplished breakdancer. (“In breaking, there is a lot of freedom,” he told ABC News on a recent Zoom call from Warsaw. “It feels like you are becoming…a visual effect of the music you hear, which is really freeing…. I treat it as a meditation.”). But if Orliński refrains from breaking during his Cal Performances debut at Hertz Hall this weekend, you can bet that his singing will be equally jaw-dropping. Orliński will be joined by his one-time Juilliard dormmate and frequent collaborator, Polish pianist Michał Biel.

March marks the time of year that traditionally finds Cal Performances operating on all cylinders. From now through the beginning of May, the remainder of our 2021­–22 season is packed with adventurous programming. You won’t want to miss…

  • the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (Mar 29 – Apr 3), returning to Zellerbach Hall for the first time since the initial pandemic shutdown in 2020; this year’s Ailey programs—featuring more than a dozen works from the company’s legendary repertory—have only recently been announced, so make sure to check our website for details
  • the one and only London Symphony Orchestra (Mar 20), appearing under the direction of luminary conductor Sir Simon Rattle in a program of orchestral masterworks
  • pianist extraordinaire Mitsuko Uchida playing and directing Mozart with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (Mar 27)
  • the renowned English Baroque Soloists with conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner in a transfixing program of works by Mozart and Haydn (Apr 10)
  • Angélique Kidjo, our 2021–22 artist-in-residence, in her new music-theater piece Yemandja (a much-anticipated Cal Performances co-commission and Illuminations event, Apr 23).

Fasten your seatbelts; we have all of this—plus much more—in store for you!

We’re very proud of our updated winter brochure and know that a few minutes spent reviewing our schedule—in print or online—will reveal a wealth of options for your calendar; now is the perfect time to guarantee that you have the best seats for all the events you plan to attend.

I know you join us in looking forward to what lies ahead, and to coming together once again to encounter the life-changing experiences that only the live performing arts deliver. We can’t wait to share it all with you during the coming months.

Jeremy Geffen
Executive and Artistic Director, Cal Performances

P.S. – Stay tuned for exciting news about our brilliant 2022–23 season, to be announced in April!

A Message from the Creators

“Gentrification is a generational conversation that has gone by many names. We should not discuss what brings you back to the city without acknowledging why you left.”

Director Patricia McGregor asks you (yes, you): Has gentrification been a protagonist or antago­nist in your life? Why and how?

Place began with Ted Hearne addressing the intersections of privilege and appropriation in his own life and work, weighing a personal sense of place and space in the most immediate family relationships against the inherited and generational.

How is whiteness a learned performance?

Saul Williams calls Place a fiery meditation on gentrification. Ted’s opening libretto was a vol­ley to Saul, who responded to Ted’s words—complicating, expanding, implicating, addres­sing, and redressing Ted’s narrow view, to consider the experiences of others across the street, across the globe, and across time.

“You realize your inability to face these things may drive me crazy? Do you realize that it may have already driven you crazy?”

Ted wrote Place to be sung by specific people he grew up singing with in Chicago—Josephine, Isaiah, Sophia—and by individuals he encountered in different musical contexts later in life—Ayanna, Steven, Sol. Music was, at times, its own map that cut through the boundaries of streets he otherwise would not have crossed. The 18 instrumentalists come from different places, too—RC, Braylon, and Rohan play with R&B and hip-hop artists; Ron plays jazz gigs almost every night; Taylor specializes in experimental music; and, of course, the members of Berkeley Symphony are immersed in a huge variety of classical and contemporary music—so the adjacency and overlay of their individual relationships to music is another kind of map.

While the piece was drawn from a matrix of specific collaborators, there are no static characters here. The singers are at once them­selves and shifting, situational archetypes in an ongoing conversation that dissolves, compli­cates, and refreshes characters through poems set to music.

Saul says: “Place provided one for me to expand upon ideas, feelings, and observations surrounding the connected realities of gentri­fication. I chose to connect dots, neighbor­hoods, and worlds through a steady probing of Ted’s original text (Part One), working to pinpoint theoretical and historical origins while confronting the staggering monopoly of soft-voiced “I”s with eyes and visibility to explore how the positioning of even the well-meaning and self-aware white male tenant in the theatrical imagination places a heavy price on a would-be democracy and conditions the pro­scenium as an occupied space.”

Through this process, our focus has shifted to DISplaceMENT. While workshopping the piece at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, we were aware that we were only a couple of blocks from tent cities, and that we were standing on ground that had been home to Tongva people long before. Where had/have those displaced people and their descendants found to make a new home?

Patricia McGregor
Ted Hearne
Saul Williams

Created by
Ted Hearne, Saul Williams, and Patricia McGregor

Ted Hearne, Music
Saul Williams and Ted Hearne, Text
Patricia McGregor, Direction
Beth Morrison, Creative Producer
Sanford Biggers and Tim Brown, Scenic Design
Tim Brown, Video Design
Scott Bolman, Lighting Design
Jody Elff, Sound Design
Rachel Myers, Costume Design
Philip White and Rohan Chander, Vocal Processing Design
Jennifer Harrison Newman, Assistant Director
William Knapp, Production Manager
Deborah Vandergrift, Stage Manager

Featuring
Steven Bradshaw
Sophia Byrd
Josephine Lee
Isaiah Robinson
SOL RUIZ
Ayanna Woods

Instrumental Ensemble
Ron Wiltrout, drum set
RC Williams, keyboard
Taylor Levine, electric guitar
Braylon Lacy, electric bass
Rohan Chander, electronics

Musicians from the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra
Tiantian Lan, viola
Ivo Bokulic, viola
Alex Volonts, viola
Carol Rice, cello
Nancy Bien, cello
Evan Kahn, cello
Roman Fukshansky, clarinet/bass clarinet
Bruce Foster, bass clarinet/contrabass clarinet
Alex Camphouse, horn
John Freeman, trumpet
Tom Hornig, trombone
Kurt Patzner, trombone
Divesh Karamchandani, percussion

Peter Grunberg, rehearsal pianist
Ted Hearne, conductor

Sampling by Ted Hearne and Rohan Chander
Some mixer feedback samples used courtesy of Philip White

Developed by Beth Morrison Projects. Co-produced by Beth Morrison Projects and LA Phil. Tour produced by Beth Morrison Projects.

Place was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, the Barbican, Beth Morrison Projects, Lynn Loacker, and Elizabeth & Justus Schlichting, with additional commissioning support from Sue Bienkowski, Nancy & Barry Sanders, and the Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts. This project was made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. It premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2018.

Many thanks to Christina Hatherly and David Koo for their generous project support.

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