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WMPAC presents Aug. 9 choral performance by The Crossing



Performing arts center partners with chamber choir for 4-year project


On Thursday, Aug. 9 at 5:30 p.m., in conclusion of the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center’s annual summer residency program for professionals and novices in dance, music and theater, revolutionary choral group The Crossing will give a sneak-preview performance of a new work developed during their 2018 stay in Big Sky.

Winners of the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance, The Crossing, a professional chamber choir committed to making original, socially-relevant works, has participated in the summer residency program since its inception in 2015, and returned this year to further solidify their connection to Big Sky.

Now, the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center is partnering with the group, composer Michael Gordon and filmmaker Bill Morrison to develop a 24-hour live performance work for chamber choir and film.

All 24 members of The Crossing collaborated with Gordon and Morrison to create a new work inspired by their time spent creating in Big Sky. The hour-long work of unaccompanied choir and film draws on the land, history, beauty, struggles and expanse of Montana and is the first installment of the long-term project which will culminate in a 24-hour original choral work and film that focuses on place-based themes.

Over the next four years, the WMPAC team will work with the artists to develop this multidisciplinary performance project, which will explore environmental themes surrounding biological degradation and regeneration, explained John Zirkle, artistic director of WMPAC, and one of The Crossing’s most enthusiastic fans.

Working with the Montana Historical Society and Yellowstone National Park, and with support from National Geographic, WMPAC will engage individuals and organizations who are integral to contemporary and historical narratives of Montana. Each year, lead artists will participate in the Conservatory residency for 10-14 days to develop the ambitious original piece in phases while involving the community.

The Crossing has performed at Lincoln Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Kennedy Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the National Gallery in Washington, and many other prestigious institutions.

While the conservatory is the least visible of WMPAC’s programs in terms of public performances, it’s arguably the most important. The purpose is to foster creativity that will lead to finished works with an indelible tie to Big Sky but with a reach that stretches far beyond southwestern Montana. The Conservatory also serves to further cultivate the exceptional talent of program fellows, predominantly regional youth aged 12-18, whose names are potentially the next to go up in lights.

Prior to the Aug. 9 performance in Big Sky, The Crossing will host the annual Big Sky Community Sing Saturday, Aug. 4 at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center, and perform a concert with the Aoide Chamber Singers that evening in Bozeman at 7 p.m. at Montana State University’s Reynolds Recital Hall.

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