As part of the festival, Carnegie Hall is proud to present two multimedia events that celebrate contemporary developments in experimental film, theater, and music in South Africa. Johannesburg-born visual artist William Kentridge is joined by his compatriot and longtime collaborator Philip Miller for Paper Music, an evening of films with live music performance. On the following evening, violinist Daniel Hope curates A Distant Drum (a Carnegie Hall commission), exploring the life and times of journalist Nat Nakasa in an original music theater production.
Johannesburg-born visual artist William Kentridge collaborates with his South African compatriot, composer Philip Miller, on Paper Music: A Ciné Concert by Philip Miller and William Kentridge. Their artistic partnership dates back to Kentridge’s 1994 film Felix in Exile, part of his celebrated Soho Eckstein series for which Miller wrote the score. Paper Music is part of an ongoing exploration of the different relationships between image and sound, featuring a selection of films by Kentridge with music by Miller for piano and two voices.
These films include Felix in Exile; Tide Table (2003); Other Faces (2011); a suite of films and music from Kentridge’s Carnets d’Egypte project (2003); three that were presented at the dOCUMENTA (13) exhibition as part of The Refusal of Time installation in 2012; plus a new suite of songs called Paper Music with a libretto that consists of fragments from past Kentridge lectures.
“There is a way in which one is constantly listening to the music and trying to make a connection between the outside world and what one is feeling and seeing,” Kentridge says. “And this mixture of the very specific and the very indeterminate is for me the heart of the connection between sound and image.”
The concert features vocalists Joanna Dudley and Ann Masina, pianist Idith Meshulam, and Miller performing on electronic sampler and Foley.
William Kentridge is one of South Africa’s pre-eminent artists,
internationally acclaimed for his drawings, films, and theater and opera
productions. His work draws on varied sources, including philosophy,
literature, early cinema, theater, and opera to create a complex
universe where good and evil are complementary and inseparable forces.
Although Kentridge moves back
and forth between media, drawing remains his primary activity, sometimes conceiving
his film and stage productions as expanded forms of the art. His work transforms sobering
political events into powerful poetic allegories. It has continually evolved as his subject
matter has departed from a specifically South African context to confront more general
concerns of social justice, revolutionary politics, and the power of creative expression.
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Philip Miller is a composer and sound artist from South Africa who works in many
different media, from live performance to film, video, and sound installations. His
longtime collaboration with Kentridge has gained him international recognition for recent
projects, and his own sound works have been exhibited at the Venice Biennale (2013), Spier
Contemporary (2011), and the Kaunas Biennial (2009).
Violinist Daniel Hope curates A Distant Drum, an original music theater production commissioned by Carnegie Hall, joining forces with his father, writer Christopher Hope, founder of South Africa’s Franschhoek Literary Festival. Scheduled to premiere at PACOFS Theatre in Bloemfontein, South Africa, shortly before coming to New York, A Distant Drum is a portrait of Nat Nakasa, a brilliant writer and irreverent spirit of his generation, who left behind South Africa’s Apartheid of the 1960s for the United States.
In Johannesburg, Nakasa was a senior editor at Drum magazine, the first black columnist
for The Rand Daily Mail, and launched his own literary journal, The Classic. He earned a Nieman Fellowship to study at Harvard in 1964; having
been denied a passport by the Apartheid government of South Africa, he fatefully chose to leave his country on an exit visa, which meant he
could never return home. Nakasa had admired America from afar, but became disillusioned with the country and its politics. Separated from
his homeland, he became lonely and depressed before jumping to his death from a seventh-floor window overlooking Central Park in New York
City in 1965.
A Distant Drum captures Nakasa’s story of exile through the man’s words—a writer who according to Christopher Hope in South Africa’s
Sunday Times, “saw both tragedy and comedy and had trouble telling the difference”—and the music of the time, from Kofifi rhythms to Harlem
jazz. Daniel Hope envisions a modern-day version of Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale,
something meant to be read and played.