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The Crossing Awarded $360,000 Grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage

November 18, 2020

In Support of Farming, a Concert-Length Work by Composer Ted Hearne
to be Premiered by The Crossing Choir, Summer 2023 at Kings Oaks Farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, USA.

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Philadelphia, PA (October 21, 2020) — The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage today announces a major grant of $300,000 to GRAMMY-winning new-music choir The Crossing in support of Farming, a concert-length musical work by frequent Crossing collaborator, composer Ted Hearne, to be premiered in summer 2023. The new work, which addresses food production and its effects on the environment and individuals, will be performed in a setting new to the ensemble: Kings Oaks Farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. This sustainable farm retains the agronomical concerns of centuries past and reflects conductor Donald Nally’s formative upbringing in rural Pennsylvania – experiences seminal to this project’s inception. The project also includes a studio recording that will live on in a digital format, and a film of the outdoor, dusk performance.

Farming is The Crossing’s fifth major project to receive such support from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, dating back to Seneca Sounds in 2011, followed by The Gulf (between you and me) in 2013, Seven Responses in 2016, and Aniara in 2019. Pew has also gifted The Crossing with an additional $60,000 as unrestricted general operating support.

Donald Nally responded to the news: “The Crossing has grown in imagination, concept, and, indeed, size through the visionary support of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. We are grateful and humbled to be included in this year’s grantees – a list of amazingly creative minds and organizations that makes us once again feel so fortunate to make our home in Philadelphia.”

Following a practice familiar to Ted Hearne – as in such works as Place; The Source; and his Pulitzer Prize-finalist Sound from the Bench, a Crossing co-commission – the libretto will be developed from original source material, with input from Nally and director Kaneza Schaal, combining these materials with the stories of those who farm, receive from farms, and who fuel controversy through corporate interests. The sound world of singing and the farm will be enhanced by six instrumentalists, expanding the color palette and making volume an element of both consonance and dissonance with the surroundings, as curated by The Crossing’s in house sound designer Paul Vazquez. 

Through the work of lighting designer Pablo Santiago, the performers of Farming will emerge from the natural light of dusk into focus as the sun sets and the farm returns to darkness. The sound, lighting, staging, music, and words will all remind us of our location and our proximity to the food source (at the audience’s feet and hands), surrounded by our roots: literally, considering the roots that feed plants and the roots of our farming and our dependence on it. The audience will exit Farming, walking with the performers through the field to the farmhouse, with the smells and sounds of a Pennsylvania crop in late June, Hearne’s music giving way to the music of the farm at night.

About The Crossing
The Crossing is a Grammy-winning professional chamber choir conducted by Donald Nally and dedicated to new music. It is committed to working with creative teams to make and record new, substantial works for choir that explore and expand ways of writing for choir, singing in choir, and listening to music for choir. Many of its nearly 110 commissioned premieres address social, environmental, and political issues.

The Crossing collaborates with some of the world’s most accomplished ensembles and artists, including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra, Network for New Music, Lyric Fest, Piffaro, Beth Morrison Projects, Allora & Calzadilla, Bang on a Can, Klockriketeatern, and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). Similarly, The Crossing often collaborates with some of world’s most prestigious venues and presenters, such as the Park Avenue Armory, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Pennsylvania, National Sawdust, David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, Disney Hall in Los Angeles, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Menil Collection in Houston, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Haarlem Choral Biennale in The Netherlands, The Finnish National Opera in Helsinki, The Kennedy Center in Washington, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space in New York, Winter Garden with WNYC, and Duke, Northwestern, Colgate, and Notre Dame Universities. The Crossing holds an annual residency at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky, Montana where they are working on an extensive, multi-year project with composer Michael Gordon and filmmaker Bill Morrison.

With a commitment to recording its commissions, The Crossing has issued 21 releases, receiving two Grammy Awards for Best Choral Performance (2018, 2019), and five Grammy nominations. The Crossing, with Donald Nally, was the American Composers Forum’s 2017 Champion of New Music. They were the recipients of the 2015 Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence, three ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, and the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award from Chorus America.

Recently, The Crossing has expanded its choral presentation to film, working with Four/Ten Media, in-house sound designer Paul Vazquez of Digital Mission Audio Services, visual artists Brett Snodgrass and Steven Bradshaw, and composers David Lang and Michael Gordon on live and animated versions of new and existing works. Lang’s protect yourself from infection and in nature were specifically designed to be performed within the restrictions imposed by the Covid 19 pandemic.

The Crossing is represented by Alliance Artist Management. All of its concerts are broadcast on WRTI, Philadelphia’s Classical and Jazz public radio station. Learn more at www.crossingchoir.org.

About Ted Hearne
Composer, singer, bandleader and recording artist Ted Hearne (b.1982, Chicago) draws on a wide breadth of influences ranging across music’s full terrain, to create intense, personal and multi-dimensional works. The New York Times has praised Mr. Hearne for his “tough edge and wildness of spirit,” and “topical, politically sharp-edged works.” Pitchfork called Hearne’s work “some of the most expressive socially engaged music in recent memory — from any genre,” and Alex Ross wrote in The New Yorker that Hearne’s music “holds up as a complex mirror image of an information-saturated, mass-surveillance world, and remains staggering in its impact.”

Hearne’s Sound From the Bench, a cantata for choir, electric guitars and drums setting texts from U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments and inspired by the idea of corporate personhood, was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize.

A charismatic vocalist, Hearne performs with Philip White as the vocal-electronics duo R WE WHO R WE, whose debut album (New Focus Recordings, 2013) was called “eminently, if weirdly, danceable and utterly gripping.” (Time Out Chicago). R WE’s sophomore release I Love You was named one of the Best Albums of 2017 by The Nation. Other recent albums of vocal music of various stripes include The Source and Outlanders (New Amsterdam Records) and The Crossing’s acclaimed recording of Sound From the Bench (Cantaloupe Music).

Ted Hearne was awarded the 2014 New Voices Residency from Boosey and Hawkes, and is a member of the composition faculty at the University of Southern California. Ted’s many collaborators include poets Dorothea Lasky and Jena Osman, visual artists Sanford Biggers and Rachel Perry, directors Daniel Fish and Patricia McGregor, and filmmakers Bill Morrison and Jonathan David Kane, and his works have been conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, John Adams and Gustavo Dudamel. Recent and upcoming commissions include orchestral works for the San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New World Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and A Far Cry, chamber works for Eighth Blackbird, Ensemble dal Niente and Alarm Will Sound, and vocal works for Conspirare, The Crossing, and Roomful of Teeth. Learn more at www.tedhearne.com.

About Kaneza Schaal
Kaneza Schaal is a New York City based theater artist. Her recent work JACK & showed in BAM’s 2018 Next Wave Festival, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and with its co-commissioners Walker Arts Center, REDCAT, On The Boards, Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, and Portland Institute for Contemporary Art. Schaal received a 2019 United States Artists Fellowship, SOROS Art Migration & Public Space Fellowship, 2018 Ford Foundation Art For Justice Bearing Witness Award, 2017 MAP Fund Award, 2016 Creative Capital Award, and was an Aetna New Voices Fellow at Hartford Stage. Her last project, GO FORTH, premiered at Performance Space 122 and then showed at the Genocide Memorial Amphitheater in Kigali, Rwanda; Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans; Cairo International Contemporary Theater Festival in Egypt; and at her alma mater Wesleyan University, CT. Schaal’s piece CARTOGRAPHY premiered at The Kennedy Center and will remount at New Victory Theater, NY; Abu Dhabi Arts Center, UAE; Ubumuntu Festival, Rwanda; Playhouse Square, OH; and PhillyLiveArts, PA. Her recent commission by The Shed, MAZE, was a collaboration with Reggie Gray and FLEXN. Most recently, Schaal directed Bryce Dessner’s Triptych (Eyes of One on Another), which premiered at LA Philharmonic, The Power Center in Ann Arbor, MI, and showed at BAM Opera House and The Holland Festival. Schaal’s work has also been supported by Baryshnikov Arts Center, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Theater Communications Group, and a Princess Grace George C. Wolfe Award. Her work with The Wooster Group, Elevator Repair Service, Richard Maxwell/New York City Players, Claude Wampler, Jim Findlay, and Dean Moss has brought her to venues including Centre Pompidou, Royal Lyceum Theater Edinburgh, The Whitney Museum, and MoMA. Learn more at http://kanezaschaal.com.

About The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage
The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage is a multidisciplinary grantmaker and hub for knowledge-sharing, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, dedicated to fostering a vibrant cultural community in Greater Philadelphia. The Center invests in ambitious, imaginative, and catalytic work that showcases the region’s cultural vitality and enhances public life, and engages in an exchange of ideas concerning artistic and interpretive practice with a broad network of cultural practitioners and leaders. www.pewcenterarts.org.

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