Friday, April 29, 2016

The Metropolitan Museum of Art announces new MetLiveArts season

Tony Award-winning actor Alan Cumming
will perform Max and Alan, his evening-length musical work
inspired by German Expressionist Max Beckmann.
(photo: Steven Trumon Gray)
Mali's legendary master singer-musician Boubacar Traore
will perform in December.
(photo: courtesy of World Music Institute)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's 2016-17 season of live performances, newly renamed MetLiveArts, was announced last evening. The lineup features music, theater and dance events, the latter represented by the indefatigable Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass, whose latest project with artist Maira Kalman, The Museum Workout, aims to both introduce you to art works and get your blood pumping each morning of its run, one hour before the museum officially opens.

Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass
will perform and lead The Museum Workout
for a troupe of early-bird participants at The Met.
(photo: Paula Lobo)

Introduced by Thomas Campbell (Met Director and CEO) and Limor Tomer (General Manager of Concerts and Lectures), the announcement event previewed The Museum Workout and offered a lively performance by chamber music group PUBLIQuartet and a Q&A with Nate DiMeo, creator of The Memory Palace podcast. DiMeo--MetLiveArts's Artist in Residence for the 2016-17 season--will spend his year crafting ten podcasts inspired by an exploration of the Met's American Wing.

Describing himself as "culturally omnivorous," DiMeo explains that his passion for history is guided by an intense interest in people.

"Abraham Lincoln is really just a dude doing real things in the world. And the Met is a place that makes history, tells people a story about what's valuable and valued in art." His series will be available on The Met's Web site as well as on The Memory Palace.

New York's adventurous PUBLIQuartet,
will be MetLiveArts's 2016-2017 Quartet-in-Residence.
(photo: Paula Lobo)

"In the 2016–17 season we will unleash the power of the Museum's collection to make sense of our world by challenging performing artists to stretch the boundaries of their craft and genre—playing with our pre–conceived notion of what performance is, what a museum experience can be, and what to expect when we go to The Met," Tomer says.

A question of how to change both performers and audiences guided Tomer's development of these new projects. One fun way was to commission Monica Bill Barnes & Company, long noted, as Timor joked, for "bringing dance where it does not belong." Just ask NPR's Ira Glass (This American Life). We all know dance definitely does not belong on radio--or on national tour with an acclaimed radio and podcast star. And yet....

With recent reports of emergency belt tightening at the Met, it's clear that Campbell faces challenges more pressing than finding "something shiny" to wear to take part in The Museum Workout.  Still, the expansive MetLiveArts initiative seems a positive move towards heightening interest in the museum across artistic disciplines and boosting accessibility without sacrificing quality.

Get more information on the full schedule of MetLiveArts events here or call 212-570-3949. Tickets are also available at the Great Hall Box Office, which is open Monday-Saturday, 11 am–3:30 pm. Tickets include admission to the Museum on day of performance.

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