Award-winning Seattle producer, musician and composer Wayne Horvitz has partnered with ACT – A Contemporary Theatre's Central Heating Lab to present Smokestack Arias. Commissioned through Jack Straw Productions and inspired by the 1916 labor uprising and resultant deaths, now known as the Everett Massacre, Smokestack Arias is a song cycle for soprano voice, piano and electronics. Each song assumes the perspective of a different woman affected by the uprising and the deaths of the slain protesters, giving a personal account of a seminal event in the history of the labor movement in the Pacific Northwest.
Composed by Horvitz with text by Robin Holcomb the performances will take place in collaboration with Cristina Valdes (piano) and Maria Mannisto (soprano). Choreographer and theatre artist Dayna Hanson will be directing the production and assist Mr. Horvitz in creating the overall structure of the piece.
"I have had three fundamental motivations for creating Smokestack Arias." Says Horvitz, "The initial inspiration was my longstanding interest in the history of the American labor movement, especially in the West, as it moved from "pioneer" to "industrialized". Secondly, my ongoing concern - along with many, many other people - of the demise of organized labor since the 1970's, and the increasing centralization of money, otherwise known as power, in the hands of the few at the expense of the many. Finally, working with these collaborators was immensely appealing to me. With the piece being solely from the point of view of female characters, it allows me to collaborate with four of my favorite women artists on the planet, so I confess to a small amount of selfish motivation in that regard. While the piece tells the story of a true event from the perspective of a variety of female characters, they are in fact all fictional. By being fictional this allows Robin Holcomb and I tremendous artistic license, something I always aspire to."
Also please see Mr. Horvitz' essay Joe Hill and the Promise of Arts and Politics on his website.
Mr. Horvitz will be speaking about the piece and its historical significance at a number of venues.
February 7th, Cornish College of the Arts (Kerry Hall), 1 pm.
1000 Lenora St Seattle, WA 98121
February 8th, Jack Straw Productions, 7:30 pm.
Composer Spotlight with funding by Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau program
4261 Roosevelt Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
Smokestack Arias was commissioned by Jack Straw Productions through Meet The Composer's Commissioning Music/USA program, which is made possible by generous support from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, the Ford Foundation, the Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Helen F. Whitaker Fund.
This project was made possible with additional funding from 4Culture, and the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs.
THE EVERETT MASSACRE
On November 5, 1916, two boatloads of workers and members of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World, often called "Wobblies") traveled from Seattle to Everett to hold a free speech demonstration in support of striking shingle mill workers in Everett, and in support of First Amendment rights. They were met at the dock by local police, hired guards, and citizen deputies. Shots were fired, fatally wounding or killing outright five "Wobblies" aboard the steamer Verona. Two deputies also died on the pier, apparently shot in the back by their comrades during the fusillade. Seventy-four Wobblies were arrested on their return to Seattle and IWW leader Thomas H. Tracy was charged with murder. All were later released. Tracy was acquitted on May 5, 1917. -Source: historylink.org.
For more on the Everett Massacre visit The UW Everett Massacre Collection and Everett Public Library Everett Massacre Digital Collection.
more about Wayne Horvitz
Wayne Horvitz is a composer, pianist, and electronic musician. He has performed extensively throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America. He has performed and collaborated with Bill Frisell, Butch Morris, John Zorn, Robin Holcomb, Fred Frith, Julian Priester, Philip Wilson, Michael Shrieve, Bobby Previte, Marty Ehrlich, Skerik, William Parker, Ron Miles, Sara Schoenbeck, Peggy Lee, Steven Bernstein, Briggan Krauss, and Dylan van der Schyff among others. He has been commissioned by the NEA, Meet The Composer, Kronos String Quartet, Seattle Chamber Players, Mary Flagler Cary Trust, PGAFF, BAM and others. Collaborators include Paul Taylor, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, Gus Van Sandt and Gordon Edelstein. He has produced CDs for Eddie Palmieri, Fontella Bass, Robin Holcomb and Bill Frisell among others. He is the 2001 recipient of the Seattle Artist Trust Fellowship, 2003 and 2006 recipient of the City of Seattle Office of Arts and Culture fellowship, 2002 recipient of the Rockefeller Map Grant for Joe Hill, 16 Actions for Chamber Orchestra, Voices and Improviser, and the 2008 NEA American Masterpieces grant for These Hills of Glory for string quartet and improviser. Ensembles include The President, Pigpen, Zony Mash, The HMP Trio, The New York Composers Orchestra, The 4 Plus 1 Ensemble, Sweeter Than the Day and The Gravitas Quartet.