Meredith Monk ’60

Composer, Director, Choreographer, Filmmaker, Vocalist, and Performer
George School inspired a passion for performing in Meredith Monk ’60.

As an artist, how do you strive to elevate your work?

Discovering something I haven’t heard or seen before and creating something that audiences haven’t seen before inspire my work. It’s a lot of risk. I try to start from zero. It’s not comfortable. You have to tolerate the discomfort and the fear of being in the unknown. I take it a little at a time. I start with beginner’s mind (what Buddhists call “I don’t know mind”). When I get the first clue, curiosity begins replacing fear. The process of discovery has really kept me feeling alive. Asking questions and offering questions is what art is all about.

What I’ve tried to do in my life is to offer a new way of seeing and hearing in the hope that it will inspire people to be awake and aware in their present life.

What comes to mind when thinking back on your experiences at George School?

I had such a wonderful, luminous education there. Music Department Head Richard Averre recognized immediately that music was my soul. And I am grateful to Mr. Keskinen for always encouraging my love of performing. He also taught me that to be a writer or an artist, one has to be alert to the moment, always curious, interested, and open hearted. The true gift of George School is that you have these teachers who really see you.

More about Meredith:

Coming from a musical family, Meredith was active in voice and dance at George School and pursued a course of study in combined performing arts (voice, dance, and theater) at Sarah Lawrence College. Currently a composer, singer, director, choreographer, filmmaker, and performer/creator in and across multiple disciplines, she explores composite or multi-perceptual forms, including opera and film, weaving together music, movement, image, gestural elements, objects, light, and text. Meredith is also considered a pioneer in the school of “extended vocal technique” or “vocal art”; for her, the voice is both the ultimate instrument and a universal, eloquent language in and of itself, hence most of her compositions do not use text. Among the ranks of her extensive, impressive performance history are singing at Carnegie Hall, for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and with two performance arts groups she founded. Additionally, Meredith received the National Medal of Arts from President Obama in September 2015.