Miller Theatre’s back!

Matana Roberts
Matana Roberts.
Evan Hunter McKnight

Miller Theatre at Columbia University School of the Arts says its 2021-22 season has returned to in-person programming for the first time since March 2020, a boon to New York City’s cultural landscape.

Executive Director Melissa Smey, lauded for the integrity of her curating, has produced an invigorating season of “immersive, cutting-edge work that sets the bar high”, according to The New Yorker, through four classic Miller series: Composer Portraits, Early Music, Bach and Jazz. 

“There are few series as satisfying as the Miller Theater’s signature dives into one composer,” states The New York Times about Composer Portraits.

 Miller Theatre said in a statement that this season’s lineup, originally programmed for the 2020/21 season, features five distinct voices from around the world, “whose music deserves to be heard more in the city. 

“Large-scale evening-length pieces for big forces, numerous premieres, and three Miller commissions fill the programs and the stage,” it said. 

“The ensembles—all blue-chip new-music champions that call Miller home, a place where they can put on ambitious dream concerts—have close ties to the composers they delve into,” it added. 

Felipe Lara.Celeste Sloman for Miller Theatre
Kati Agócs.Robyn Twomey for Miller Theatre

Miller Theatre said Ensemble Signal showcases Italian electronic composer Luca Francesconi; International Contemporary Ensemble performs Portraits of Brazilian-American electroacoustic composer Felipe Lara and the trailblazing musician/composer Matana Roberts; Yarn/Wire plays music of Australian composer Thomas Meadowcroft. 

The season opens with a Portrait of Kati Agócs, featuring singer Lucy Dhegrae and Third Sound. 

Miller Theatre said it is also home to “exciting” Early Music and Bach concerts, having “pioneered the mix of antique and avant-garde that the bigger organizations now emulate” (The New Yorker). 

England’s venerable Stile Antico and Simone Dinnerstein’s Bach return this year. 

Jazz is also a passion of Smey, and the stage welcomes three fabulous bandleaders: Lionel Loueke, Miguel Zenón, and the Miller debut of Kenny Barron and his esteemed trio. 

After the COVID shutdown, Miller Theatre said it was far from silent. It continued to commission music and support composers and musicians, throwing itself into digital innovations with the critically-acclaimed podcast Mission: Commission (Season Two debuts this spring) and Live from Columbia, an extension of Pop-Up Concerts that brings the campus to the people through state-of-the-art concert films. 

Luca Francesconi.Alessandro Grassani for Miller Theatre
Melissa Smey.Photo by Adrienne Stortz

“World-class musicians ranging from the JACK Quartet to Brandee Younger performed in places like Columbia’s famed Butler Library and The Lantern, and the public got to watch from the front row—at home,” Miller Theatre said. “These digital ventures have already reached people in 80 countries and 50 states.”