Meredith Monk & The House Foundation
On Behalf of Nature

Meredith Monk & The House Foundation

On Behalf of Nature

Photo: Julieta Cervantes


“Well before just about every choreographer on the planet declared their allegiance to multidisciplinary work,” proclaims The New York Times, “Meredith Monk was creating pieces that defied characterization in their use of song, speech, movement, film, and images.” More than anyone else, Monk has sharpened our perceptions of the voice as pure instrument, the body as mythic force. Half a century deep into her pioneering extension of vocal possibilities, she still trades in pungent essences of beauty and simplicity.

In the 2012/13 season, Monk brought her company to Duke Performances for a two-week, multifaceted residency from October 22 to November 3. While at Duke, Monk spent time with her ensemble and artistic collaborators developing a new piece, On Behalf of Nature, examining the human realm in relation to the realms of the natural world.

Crowning her Duke Performances residency, Meredith Monk revived one of her earliest, most influential, and most captivating solo performances on November 2-3, 2012, at Reynolds Industries Theater. In Education of the Girlchild, Monk fashions theatrical movement, costumes, and breathtaking singing into a poignant portrayal of an elderly woman living her life in reverse. Forty years after its debut, the work takes on powerful new dimensions.

In the second half, Monk and her company undertook the complementary Shards, for live synthesizer and voices, where they rearranged fragments of works from 1969 to 1973 (including Girlchild) into fantastic new shapes. Shards aptly closed an unforgettable encounter with an artist unafraid to break every mold — even her own.

As ever, Ms. Monk is magnetic. Her vocal music is cast in a virtuosic, tight counterpoint of coos and chitters, emulating bird calls at one moment, yelping atop a purely musical glissando the next. … Yet the piece demands to be seen and heard, if not, like nature itself, fully understood.

The New York Times


  • INDY Week, Feature: Meredith Monk’s Duke residency questions perceptions of an artist’s career
  • INDY Week, Review: The minimalist, highly personal multimedia pioneer Meredith Monk at Duke; final performance tonight
  • CVNC, Review: Meredith Monk at Duke: The “Girlchild” Looks Back
  • NY Times, Speaking, and Moving, for the Wild
  • Pitchfork, On Behalf of Nature
  • The Guardian, Meredith Monk: On Behalf of Nature CD review – enthralling elemental rite