Cedar Commissions

The Cedar Cultural Center is pleased to announce the sixth round of The Cedar Commissions (formerly 416 Commissions), The Cedar’s flagship commissioning program for emerging artists made possible by a grant from the Jerome Foundation. To date, the series has supported the creation of new music by more than 30 artists.

The 2016-17 round of artists was selected by a committee of Minnesota-based musicians and music industry professionals from a competitive pool of nearly 100 applicants. The 6 commissioned artists, Dameun Strange, Zack Baltich, Krissy Bergmark, Bethany Battafarano, Ritika Ganguly and SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE, will each receive $4,500 to compose at least 30 minutes of new musical work to debut at The Cedar in February 2017.

Dameun Strange: Helianthus is an afrofuturistic conceptual operetta that will tell the story of Dameun Strange as a composer and time traveler visiting his matriarchal ancestors at points in time when they learned valuable lessons that were then passed down to him. The operetta will be a series of 5 musical vignettes, each from a different era reaching back as far as the 1890’s and ending 50 years into the future. Strange will work in collaboration with librettist Venessa Fuentes to craft the lyrics. The work will be performed with his current collective, Strange New Music Experiment.


 Zack Baltich: Composer/percussionist Zack Baltich will compose and perform ingress/passage, a new work for drum-set, bass clarinet, and percussion (marimba, tuned bottles, found objects). Performed in collaboration with drummer Reese Kling and clarinetist Carley Olson, ingress/passage will seek alternative textural possibilities through the use of contact microphones. The piece will also be a continued effort to create a paradox of challenging, yet inviting soundscapes by utilizing uncommon performance techniques within familiar confines of form and key center.


Krissy Bergmark: Composer and tabla player Krissy Bergmark will join with dancer and choreographer Lauren Baker to create an intimate, emotional story line through a “compositional conversation.” Bergmark and Baker will exchange excerpts of music and choreography to create a three movement piece for tabla, cello, electric guitar, fiddle, and dancer.



Bethany Battafarano: Choral composer and soprano vocalist Bethany Battafarano will collaborate with Peruvian poet Helmut Jerí Pabón and Chilean musicians Vladimir Garrido and Nicolas Muñoz in an exploration of Western classical and Latin American sounds focused on choral and Andean roots. Danceable rhythms, soaring harmonies, and social justice themes engage our many cultural commonalities, which too often remain divided. Minnesota is home to one of the strongest choral traditions in the country and also to a powerful Latin@ population. Battafarano’s work will challenge the underrepresentation of Latin American sounds and languages in the state’s choral music canon.


Ritika Ganguly: This project is where poem meets song. It explores the inherent musicality of literature straddling 19th century Bengal to contemporary New Delhi to Victorian England to 20th century Chile. Composer and vocalist Ritika Ganguly will collaborate with Mexican and Indian musicians to render this poetry into musical patterns that draw on the Baul heritage of Bengali music, North Indian music, and Neo Soul. The performance will incorporate instrumentation not commonly used with these genres, including the bansuri, acoustic guitar, and the cajón. 


SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE: A fresh collaborative work from cellist Eric Silva Brennenman and MC SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE, Flow and the Bow will take two talented and risk-taking artists of color and propel them into a musical science experiment around that rare intersection between hip-hop and classical music. Flipping tradition on its head in both genres, Eric and SEE will explore and test the dynamics between “one cello and a microphone.” Listen for hip-hop’s boom bap heartbeat pulsing classical motifs through a circulatory system that moves a body through mythology, mysticism, and social justice. Catch the slightest whiff of horchata and guaraná along the way as Eric and SEE traverse landscapes of legend, politics, and the human spirit.


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