Oakland, CA—November 14, 2017
Mills College is pleased to announce a $150,000 grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions, an $8 million commissioning initiative that is the largest of its kind in the United States. Mills is one of 10 local nonprofit organizations to a receive grant of $150,000 to commission major new musical compositions from world-class artists in genres including chamber, electronic, jazz, opera, and hip hop.
Launched in January 2017 to celebrate the foundation’s 50th anniversary, the Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions will award 10 grants to local nonprofits annually in each of five performing arts disciplines through 2021. Future years will focus on theater, dance, traditional arts, and film.
The new works created with this year’s awards will premiere in Bay Area communities over the next three years. The commissioned projects have themes that speak directly to Bay Area communities, including the impact of technology on our culture, humanity’s relationship to the natural world, and the experiences of immigrants and women in our society.
With its Hewlett grant, Mills College will commission award-winning musician Meredith Monk to create an immersive performance piece in Oakland titled Indra’s Net. Composer and the Davidson Associate Professor of Electronic Arts at Mills College, James Fei and Meyer Sound will work in collaboration chamber musicians from the San Francisco Symphony, and the Meredith Monk Vocal Ensemble managed by The House Foundation for the Arts to create the piece.
“The commissioned project intersects theater, movement, voice and electronic sound,” said Professor Fei. “Monk's work is already familiar to many of our students, so the opportunity to be a partner in this commission will generate tremendous excitement both at Mills College and with other cultural and educational institutions in the Bay Area, and draw a new audience for our art, dance, theater and music programming.”
The piece is inspired by Indra’s Net, a metaphor used to illustrate the concepts of Śūnyatā (emptiness) and pratītyasamutpāda (dependent origination) in Buddhist philosophy. Instrumentalists and members of Monk’s acclaimed Vocal Ensemble will be dispersed throughout the theater, like the vertices of Indra’s Net, while the audience moves independently around them. The local community will be invited to participate in open rehearsals, workshops, lectures on composition technique for students, and public dialogues throughout the Bay Area.
“Mills College is excited to collaborate on a year-long project to create an original interdisciplinary work by Meredith Monk,” said President Elizabeth L. Hillman. “The project, which will culminate in a premiere performance at the newly renovated Lisser Hall, aligns with our mission to foster excellence in the arts, humanities, sciences, and technology while connecting students and faculty to each other, the local community, and the world.”
The work will premiere in the newly renovated Lisser Hall at Mills College in Spring 2019. Future touring may include New York, Miami, and Minneapolis.
About Mills College
Located in Oakland, California, in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area, Mills College is a nationally renowned independent liberal arts college for women with graduate programs for women and men. Ranked one of the top-tier regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report, Mills is also recognized as one of The Best 382 Colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review. Since 1852, we’ve been empowering students to become creative, independent thinkers who take and inspire action. For more information, visit www.mills.edu.