Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Live@365 2012-2013 Season

From Epic Poems to Sultry Songs: Live@365 Brings Vintage Grooves, Age-Old Roots, and Fresh Collaborations to the Acousticly Rich Elebash Recital Hall

In the heart of Manhattan is a striking space of acoustic intimacy and brilliance. Where musicians adore the sound and where audiences can experience global music—from powerful voices to delicate jaw harp—with a sonic intensity difficult to find in large halls or clubs designed for amplification.

It’s the Elebash Recital Hall, the 180-seat home of Live@365 (, a world music series presented by the CUNY Graduate Center and curated by Isabel Soffer/Live Sounds. Now in its second season, the series embraces the intersection of deep tradition and contemporary innovation, welcoming veteran performers and crafting new collaborations from across the planet.

The Live@365 2012-2013 season:

September 20: Crossing Boundaries with the jazz-inflected Bulgarian traditional song of Vlada Tomova, the lush vocals of Haitian songstress Emeline Michel, and Martha Redbone’s stirring, Native American-influenced neo-soul.

October 24: Bachata Legends Unplugged with the cornerstone of the Dominican Republic’s racy, witty acoustic tradition, Edilio Pareles and special guests.

November 27: West African Griot Summit. An extraordinary chance to hear more than a dozen traditional storytellers, musicians, and oral historians from seven countries finding common ground and trading licks.

March 12: Ancient Persia: Songs and Stories (U.S. debut). Celebrate the Persian New Year with masters of the ancient, living art of Naqqali storytelling and striking Zoorkhaneh percussion, both rarely heard outside Iran. Artists will recite from the Shahnameh (Book of Kings), Iran’s most beloved 11th-century epic story.

April 9: Budapest Bar (U.S. debut). A new project by Hungarian Gypsy music darlings, the four-member band invokes the spirit of Budapest’s golden age of cabaret, the 1920s-1950s. The wildly popular band will team up with local cabaret singers, swinging between the sultry and the rollicking.

May 7: Hypnotic Chinese Jaw Harp. Wang Li transformed the local jaw harp traditions of his native region in China into a powerful meditation on silence and breath. Though flowing from his years as a contemplative in a French monastery, Wang Li’s music instantly engages with its profound focus and stunning variety.

All performances held at 7 PM at Elebash Recital Hall, CUNY Graduate Center, at 365 5th Ave (at 34th Street). For tickets, see or call 212-868-4444.

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“You can hear every nuance of a voice, every stroke of an instrument,” enthuses Live@365 curator Isabel Soffer, describing the Elebash Recital Hall. “It’s a distinctive atmosphere for performers and audience; listeners are engaged with the artists on the stage. My mission is to create shows that work in this particular environment.”

That powerful unifying thread—the unparalleled sound, the intimate experience—allows the series to present diverse artists with multifaceted visions, from different geographical and musical backgrounds—while retaining a strong curatorial vision. Many of this season’s performances—the gathering of New York’s many West African bards on a single stage, the magical performance of sung Persian poetry, the fresh and contemplative jaw harp of Wang Li—are dream concerts for Soffer, who had been longing for an intimate but acoustically superior place to present performers.

Such small concerts with such high-level international artists would have been difficult without the instigation and ongoing support of CUNY Graduate Center Public Programs department, the organization that developed and launched the series. Hoping to bring a wider variety to its unique Midtown venue, the Graduate Center approached Soffer to create a series that would bring global sounds to the Elebash. The collaboration resulted in a series unlike any other in the city: sounds that thrived in the Hall’s rich acoustics, responsive artists, committed audiences.

It fit The Graduate Center’s mission and vision perfectly. “Our combination of great diversity and public education is unique, and that spirit—as well as the spirit of our academic programs via our Music Department—shows in the series,” explains Andrea Jeyaveeran, The Center’s Director of Public Programs.

“Live@365 suits the theater and the audience,” Soffer reflects. “And it also suits these remarkable artists in a way that no other theater in New York does. It results in very intimate experiences for everyone.”

The Graduate Center is the primary doctorate-granting institution of the City University of New York (CUNY). As a cultural and academic hub for music lovers, it offers a wide array of performances, lectures, master classes, and symposia. Home to a distinguished D.M.A program, as well as a world-class ethnomusicology department, it also houses the Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation.

The Graduate Center offers more than 30 doctoral programs across the arts and sciences, and a number of master's programs. It accommodates 33 interdisciplinary research centers and institutes, and provides an extensive array of public lectures, exhibitions, and theatrical events. Further information on the Graduate Center may be found at

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