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The Crossing to perform at WMPAC

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WARREN MILLER PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

BIG SKY – It’s going to take a very long time for the world of performing arts to return to normal, given the necessary social distancing precautions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center wasn’t ready to surrender the idea of providing a venue for making and sharing art with the public. WMPAC instead leaned into the challenge and, engaging some longtime artistic collaborators, designed a three-show series of hybrid virtual and in-person performances to take place over the summer.

This Saturday, Aug. 1, singers from the two-time Grammy-winning ensemble The Crossing join forces with singers from the Montana-based choir Roots in the Sky (formerly Aoide Singers) with an innovative approach to ensemble singing. The Crossing and WMPAC commissioned the Oscar-nominated and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang to create a new piece specifically for the concept of singing together from a distance. The world premiere of that piece will take place on Saturday at 6pm. The hybrid performance will happen on the WMPAC stage and be broadcast to virtual audiences on the Center’s new streaming platform, wmpac.live.

WMPAC enlisted the help of local videographer Micah Robin to capture high quality images of the Gallatin River. Over the past two weeks, that footage has been projected onto a wall at a studio in Philadelphia, where individual singers from The Crossing, a professional chamber choir based there, are recorded singing in front of it. Composite footage of each individual singer will then be projected on the WMPAC stage, on which four singers from Roots in the Sky will perform live, underscoring the hybrid nature of the performance.

Unlike the first and last shows of the summer season, this time there will be no live audience at the Center. Instead, the entire audience experience will happen online.

“It’s been so rewarding to be able to expand our audience base for these performances,” said John Zirkle, WMPAC’s executive director. “The silver lining of not being able to gather together in our space is that we’re actually able to share our art with more people all over the country and the world. That’s a unique opportunity, and we’ve been thrilled to take advantage of it.”

The highlight of the performance will undoubtedly be the new piece by composer David Lang. He is one of America’s most performed composers, and won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Music for a piece entitled “The Little Match Girl Passion,” which then went on to win a Grammy Award in 2009 for Best Ensemble Performance.

“The fact that WMPAC gets the opportunity to debut a David Lang piece is just incredible,” said Zirkle. “He’s a brilliant composer whose work is in incredibly high demand, and we’re honored to be the first to present this new piece.”

The last show of the summer season will take place the following Saturday, August 8 at 6pm. Longtime WMPAC partners James Sewell Ballet will present their own version of a socially distant dance performance, with a couple live dancers onstage performing alongside projections of dancers behind them. WMPAC will welcome up to forty audience members to the theatre for that performance, and follow the Center for Disease Control’s social distancing guidelines to ensure the safety of the audience and performers.

Tickets and more information are available at wmpac.live

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