World Premiere of "Spark of Being," a New Multimedia Work by Dave Douglas and Bill Morrison, Presented by Stanford Lively Arts on April 24


Sign in to view read count
Stanford Lively Arts will present the world premiere of “Spark of Being," a meditation on contemporary art, technology, and other themes through the lens of the Frankenstein story, from the jazz trumpeter/composer Dave Douglas and video/film artist Bill Morrison. Premiering on Saturday, April 24 at 8:00 p.m. in Memorial Auditorium, the multimedia production will combine the screening of film--consisting of new, archival, and distressed footage--with an original score by Douglas written for his electric band Keystone. Spark of Being was commissioned by Lively Arts as the centerpiece of a campus-wide “Art + Invention" project throughout the 2009-10 season, and is also the culmination of a multi-stage residency at Stanford by Douglas and Morrison. The work has been made possible through a prestigious “Creative Campus" grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Drawing upon the unique resources of Stanford University, Spark of Being will incorporate archival visual elements and newly developed sound components that Douglas and Morrison have culled from the Hoover Institution, the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), and other campus sources.

“Spark of Being was ignited, if you will, by an article that Dave Douglas read in The New Yorker, which explored the history of gadgetry, an ancient computing device called the Antikythera mechanism, and the intersection of art and technology," says Lively Arts' artistic and executive director, Jenny Bilfield. “Dave was eager to collaborate with Bill Morrison, and Lively Arts stepped in to commission them to create a work at the crossroads of sound synthesis, visual media, and live performance--something that we believed would reside comfortably at Stanford. Bill's film captures and layers images that evoke the complexity and detail of the story's intertwining narratives, and Dave's original score is a sensual musical panorama."

“It's been an age-old dream of mine to do something like this," says Morrison. “Just like Frankenstein is a creature made of humans, the work is a film made up of a lot of films and I always had it in the back of my mind to take a stab at doing Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in that manner."

“Spark of Being is a metaphor for the way that we're working both with archived image and sound being blended into the piece," says Douglas. “On some levels, thinking about the sciences, both natural philosophy as it was understood in the 19th century and also the way that it works in the arts today led me to some of the themes that I used in writing this music."

The night before the premiere, Stanford Lively Arts and SiCa will present and “Art + Invention Student Works Festival, an evening of faculty-nominated original student works, as one of the culminating events in the campus-wide “Art + Invention" project on April 23 at 7:00 p.m. in Memorial Auditorium (lobby reception at 6:30). Student composers, choreographers, filmmakers, improvisers, designers, video artists, and interdisciplinary artists will present their original works created in courses throughout the school year. In addition, Stanford jazz musicians and filmmakers will present new works created with mentor artists-in-residence Morrison and Douglas.

Generously supported by Marty and Bonnie Tenenbaum. Generously funded by The Koret Jazz Project, a multiyear initiative to support, expand, and celebrate the role of jazz--one of America's greatest contributions to world culture--in the artistic and educational programming of Stanford Lively Arts.

Two-time Grammy-nominated musician Dave Douglas is a DownBeat magazine “Artist of the Year" honoree, the artistic director of the Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music at the Banff Center, and has been a member of such celebrated ensembles as John Zorn's Masada and the SFJAZZ Collective. His Grammy-nominated sextet Keystone--one of more than a dozen ensembles he has led over the years--combines electric jazz with electronica and other styles, and was formed specifically to perform new scores for classic films. His solo recording career began in 1993 with Parallel Worlds on Soul Note Records, and he has since released more than 30 recordings. In 2005, after seven critically acclaimed albums for Bluebird/RCA, Mr. Douglas launched his own record label, Greenleaf Music. The same year, he was honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship. On Greenleaf, Mr. Douglas has released albums with his long standing quintet, the electronic sextet Keystone, and the mixed chamber ensemble Nomad. In 2009, he released Spirit Moves with his new brass quintet, Brass Ecstasy; and his first big band recording, A Single Sky, a collaboration with Jim McNeely and Frankfurt Radio Bigband. In addition to leading his own groups, Douglas has an important ongoing musical relationship as a member of John Zorn's group Masada, and with artists such as Anthony Braxton, Don Byron, Joe Lovano, Miguel Zenn, Uri Caine, Bill Frisell, Cibo Matto, Mark Dresser, Han Bennink, and Misha Mengelberg. As a composer, Douglas has been commissioned by the Trisha Brown Dance Company, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Norddeutscher Rundfunk, Essen Philharmonie, and the Library of Congress.

Bill Morrison is best known for his film Decasia, a hypnotic collage of archival footage undergoing the process of decay. The Village Voice named Decasia one of its “Top Ten Films of 2003," calling it “that rare thing: a work with avant-garde and universal appeal." His films and videos have been shown in festivals theaters, museums and concert halls worldwide, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Museum of Modern Art, Royal Festival Hall, Sundance Film Festival, Tate Modern, and Walt Disney Concert Hall. He has created films to accompany live performances of music by some of the most important composers of our time, including John Adams, Gavin Bryars, Richard Einhorn, Bill Frisell, Michael Gordon, Henryk Gorecki, David Lang, Harry Partch, Steve Reich, and Julia Wolfe. Morrison is a Guggenheim fellow and has received the Alpert Award for the Arts, an NEA Creativity Grant, a Creative Capital grant, and a fellowship from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. His work with Ridge Theater has been recognized with two Bessie awards and an Obie Award. In 2010 Morrison will premiere new collaborations with Vijay Iyer at Eastern State Penitentiary, Jhann Jhannsson at the Durham (UK) Cathedral, and Ben Neill and Mimi Goese at BAM Next Wave 2010.

Spark of Being and the Dave Douglas-Bill Morrison residency at Stanford are made possible in part by a generous “Creative Campus" grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Additional commissioning support provided by Meet the Composer's Commissioning Music/USA program and the Walker Art Center. This project is produced by Stanford Lively Arts in partnership with the Stanford Institute for the Creativity & the Arts (SiCa), with additional support from CCRMA, the Cantor Center for the Arts, the Hoover Institution, Music at Stanford, Stanford Jazz Workshop, and other campus partners.

The focal point of the Creative Campus project is the Dave Douglas-Bill Morrison commission, which will be presented as part of a festival of student works. Their campus presence provides a catalyst for students to create and present new work across disciplines, and for academic departments to engage in coursework that explores themes inspired by “Art + Invention."

Tickets for the world premiere of Dave Douglas and Bill Morrison's Spark of Being, presented by Stanford Lively Arts on Saturday, April 24 at 8:00 p.m. in Memorial Auditorium, range from $30 to $56 for adults and $10 for Stanford students. Half-price tickets are available for young people age 18 and under, and discounts are available for groups and non-Stanford students. Call 650-725-ARTS (2787) or visit http://livelyarts.stanford.edu.

Memorial Auditorium is located on Serra Street at Galvez, across from Hoover Tower. Parking may be found along Serra Street, Memorial Way, or Lasuen Street. Roth Way and Museum Way, off Lasuen Street, as well as the memorial lot adjacent to the building provide additional parking. Patrons should plan on arriving on campus at least 30 minutes prior to the performance start time. Maps and directions can be accessed at http://livelyarts.stanford.edu.

Stanford Lively Arts curates experiences that engage artists' and audiences' imagination, creativity, and sense of adventure. Founded in 1969 at Stanford University, we produce and present music, theater, dance, spoken word, and multi-media events. We place a special focus on innovation and risk-taking, and through commissions and premieres are an incubator and destination for new work. Stanford Lively Arts plays a leading and collaborative role in the university's thriving vision of a sustained culture of creativity--one in which the arts integrate with the academic disciplines, flourish as a vital part of campus and community life, and inspire new perspectives on our lives and culture.

Visit Website

Post a comment


View events near San Jose
Jazz Near San Jose
Events Guide | Venue Guide | Get App | More...

Jazz News

All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.