A festival of untamed voices showcasing multimedia collaborations and works-in-progress

VisionIntoArt/National Sawdust is pleased to present the 4th annual FERUS Festival Jan 5—10, 2017. Curated by VisionIntoArt, National Sawdust’s in-house producing and touring company, the festival features daring collaborations in new music, theater, and multimedia by innovative international and local artists. 

To purchase tickets visit nationalsawdust.org/FERUS


Thursday, Jan 5 at 7pm


Poetry by Roger Bonair-Agard
Music by Andy Akiho
Performed by Andy Akiho, Roger Bonair-Agard, Sean Dixon, Jeffrey Zeigler

The poet knows all sorts of things. Right now,
he is convinced he is inside the belly of his greatest
work ever. Rum will do that.

M is Black Enough is a collaborative exploration of meaning and conversation; a contemporary band of hard driving rhythms and biting social commentary that utilizes steelpan, cello, drums, and poetry/vocals. It aims to be complex and aggressive, and to involve all elements equally in a bold narrative about people, justice, struggle, joy, and celebration.

It is a melange of musical styles form a brash symphony that nods the head, moves the feet, and asks the listener/ viewer to challenge and disturb her own comfort. Miyamoto is both a building frenzy of excitement and a cerebral jaunt through one’s own belief systems, leaning towards a joy that refuses itself unless it is foundation’d in justice.


Friday, Jan 6 at 7pm


This evening features a split bill of musicians who are expanding the notions of visual and textual storytelling within musical performance.

The Afield
Performed by Rebecca Fischer
Music by Byron Au Yong, Lisa Bielawa, Nico Muhly, and Paola Prestini
Film by Anthony Hawley

Opening the evening is renowned violinist Rebecca Fischer (of the Chiara Quartet) performing excerpts from The Afield. The set will consist of short works for solo violin and voice by Byron Au Yong, Lisa Bielawa, Nico Muhly, and Paola Prestini, alongside films by visual artist Anthony Hawley.

Nelson Patton with Lonnie Holley
Dave Nelson, trombone and electronics
Marlon Patton, drums and Moog synth
Lonnie Holley, vocals

Nelson Patton is an experimental duo of looped trombone (Dave Nelson) and drums & Moog bass pedals (Marlon Patton). The result is a sound that is greater than the sum of its parts as the two musicians continue to layer and develop motifs into elaborate textures and interlocking grooves. Along The Way was recorded in Dave’s personal studio in upstate New York over three days and features Lonnie Holley on vocals. The eleven songs on the album, chosen from dozens of improvised pieces, reflect the spirit of their expansive live shows.


Friday, Jan 6 at 10pm


Created and composed by Yuka C. Honda
Performed by Yuka C. Honda, Alex Cline, Nels Cline, Devin Hoff, and Zeena Parkins
Video production by Brian Close, Kiki Kudo, and Yuka C. Honda
Live video and animation projection by Brian Close

National Sawdust artist-in-residence Yuka C. Honda presents a brand new multimedia work-in-progress based on the writings of Japanese author Ryu Murakami. Murakami, while not well known in the United States, is one of Japan’s most celebrated and iconic living literary figures. Inspired by his writings, in particular the novel Coin Locker Babies, Honda has conceived an evening-length work of music and video for an all-star ensemble of avant-garde improvisers: twin brothers Nels Cline (Wilco) on guitar and Alex Cline on drums, downtown composer and performer Zeena Parkins (Björk) on harp, and the phenomenally versatile Devin Hoff on upright bass. Video and animations, manipulated live by video artist Brian Close (of the audio-visual design team Georgia) provides a visual score for the evening.


Saturday, Jan 7 at 7pm


Conceived by Davóne Tines
Created by Helga Davis and Davóne Tines
Music composed by Helga Davis, Shara Nova, and Caroline Shaw
Choreography by Reggie “Regg-Roc” Gray

Performed by
Helga Davis and Davóne Tines, vocals
Marc Carey, piano
The D.R.E.A.M. Ring, dancers

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” —James Baldwin

Requiem for: A Tuesday is a theatrical concert that takes the form of a ceremony in which those assembled are invited to overcome fear by looking to each other. In this ceremony, music opens up a space for the audience to witness and thus face collective and individual notions of mortality and fear. By taking part in such an act, the assembled will perhaps understand that these actions are universal and thus fear of the other is not necessary as there is, in fact, no other.

The ceremony is administered by vocalist/improviser Helga Davis and bass-baritone Davóne Tines with a musical ensemble of string quartet and piano, and features the dance crew the D.R.E.A.M. Ring led by Reggie “Regg-Roc” Gray who dance in a style called Flexin. Using music and dance in tandem, the work unfurls as a powerful and emotional meditation on violence enacted in and upon black communities, exploring a multitude of different perspectives from both sides of the perceived divide.

Helga Davis and Davóne Tines serve as guides—acting at once as “everyman,” singing the inner thoughts of the collective, and as a “composite avatar,” evoking individual victims of police brutality.


Sunday, Jan 8 at 4pm


Music by Daniel Felsenfeld, Jonathan Newman, Paola Prestini, Sarah Kirkland Snider, and Julian Wachner
Conducted by Julian Wachner
Performed by The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and NOVUS NY

For this special Sunday evening engagement, the renowned Choir of Trinity Wall Street and its companion chamber ensemble NOVUS NY are led by conductor Julian Wachner in an evening of contemporary Mass music.

The program will consist of previews of five new musical works in advance of their world premiere Jan 12 at Trinity Church Wall Street. Excerpted music by composers Daniel Felsenfeld, Jonathan Newman, Paola Prestini, Sarah Kirkland Snider, and Julian Wachner will be augmented by talks with librettists Rick Moody, Brenda Shaughnessy, and Royce Vavrek.


Monday, Jan 9 at 7pm

RECORD RELEASE: SXIP SHIREY’S A Bottle of Whiskey and a Handful of Bees

Sxip Shirey with special guests XAVIER and Rhiannon Giddens

National Sawdust’s in-house record label VIA Records celebrates its release of the new album by composer, producer, interdisciplinary performer, and NS curator Sxip Shirey. His latest offering A Bottle of Whiskey and a Handful of Bees is a masterfully-produced and daringly eclectic collection of songs featuring an array of musical collaborators. Two of those esteemed collaborators will join him onstage for this special evening: R&B singer XAVIER and singer-songwriter Rhiannon Giddens, best known for her recent Nonesuch release Tomorrow is my Turn and as the front woman of the folk outfit the Carolina Chocolate Drops.


Tuesday, Jan 10 at 7:30pm & 10pm

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Jan 10 performances of Sophia Brous’ Lullaby Movement have been cancelled. This program will be rescheduled for a later date. Check back here for updates.

LULLABY MOVEMENT: a song cycle

Conceived by Sophia Brous
Music composed by Sophia Brous, Leo Abrahams, and David Coulter
Scenic design and direction by Michael Counts

Performed by
Sophia Brous, voice
Leo Abrahams, guitar, electronics
Mauro Refosco, percussion
Todd Reynolds, violin, percussion

A girl lies on a pebble beach at the end of the universe. Suspended in a fever dream.

Lullaby Movement is a contemporary performance work incorporating music, movement, and theater exploring lullaby ritual from around the world. It was conceived and created by an impressive team of interdisciplinary musicians: Australian vocalist and composer Sophia Brous with British multi-instrumentalists David Coulter and Leo Abrahams.

Performed in over 20 languages and dialects as a staged theatrical song-cycle, the projects was created through direct-learning research with migrant and refugee communities from around the world, and draw on a unique sound world of innovatively-combined acoustic and electronic textures interwoven with Brous’ sublime and powerful vocal performance.

Originally commissioned by Urban Theatre projects for the Sydney Festival 2015, the work has been developed in an artist residency at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center and at National Sawdust as part of VisionIntoArt’s 2016 Ferus Festival in New York City. Lullaby Movement is co-produced by ArKtype (NYC), Insite Arts (Australia), and VisionIntoArt/National Sawdust (NYC).



More information: nationalsawdust.org/ferus  

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In May 2014, from the 13th through the 18th, VIA launched our inaugural FERUS FESTIVAL, which we have designated as our incubation time for new projects in a workshop performance setting. Each evening features an artist or many artists with whom we are honored to have had the chance to work with.

We are thrilled to have had Q2 Music as our Digital Partner. FERUS Festival was recorded for on-demand listening by our Digital Partner, Q2 Music, WQXR’s online radio station for contemporary classical music at q2music.org. For the full list of performances on-demand, visit their page featuring our festival.

5/13 Tuesday
8 and 10 pm
Jeff Zeigler (cello) Vijay Iyer (piano) Scott Colley (bass) Satoshi Takeishi (percussion)

5/14 Wednesday

8 pm
Gity Razaz (composer) Deborah Lifton (soprano) Mikhail Smigelski (baritone) Steve Beck (piano) Vasko Dukovski (clarinet) Serafim Smigelskiy (cello)

10 pm
Niloufar Talebi (librettist) Cree Carrico (soprano) Sarah Heltzel (mezzo soprano) Mila Henry (pianist)

5/15 Thursday
8 and 10 pm
Cornelius Dufallo (violin) Kinan Azmeh (clarinet) Helga Davis (voice)

5/16 Friday
8 and 10 pm
Rinde Eckert (performer)

5/17 Saturday
8 and 10 pm
Paola Prestini (voice, composer) Jeffrey Zeigler (cello) Ian Rosenbaum (percussion) Mivos Quartet (strings) Andy Akiho (composer, percussion) Helga Davis (performer)

5/18 Sunday
8 pm
Daniel Felsenfeld (composer), Wesley Stace, aka John Wesley Harding (host), Maeve Hoglund (soprano), Heather Meyer (soprano), Kacey Cardin (soprano), Emily Manzo (harpsichord), Sarah Carrier (flute)

10 pm

Albert Behar (composer, accordionist) Ariadne Greif (soprano)


Q2 Music is WQXR’s online music station dedicated to contemporary classical composers, innovative ensembles, and vibrant, live webcasts from New York City’s leading new-music venues. Q2 Music, a live 24/7 music stream available at wqxr.org/q2music, includes immersive festivals, insightful commentary from hosts and composers, full-length album streams, in-depth interviews with trend-setting artists, and special live events at The Greene Space at WQXR. Q2 Music is also available via the free WQXR app.

Special thanks to The Stone and John Zorn for hosting us this year! And to Audio Engineer Jay Eigenmann. Photography by Jill Steinberg.


Listen to the performances on WQXR’s Q2 Music!

Friday 5/29, 7 PM — Hafez Modirzadeh (composer/alto saxophone), Agata Zubel (composer/vocals), with special guests Leo Genovese (piano), Cornelius Dufallo (violin), and Jeffrey Zeigler (cello)

Saturday 5/30, 3 PM —  Molly Joyce (composer), Cornelius Dufallo (composer/violin), Mika Karlsson (composer), Royce Vavrek (librettist), with special guests Lucy Dhegrae (soprano), Patrick Jones (pianoforte), Austin Regan (director), and Christopher Oscar Peña (librettist)

Saturday 5/30,  5 PM — Ariadne Greif (soprano), Gity Razaz (composer), Inbal Segev (cello), with special guests Carmen Kordas (visual design) and Caroline Park (sound design)

Launched in May 2014, VisionIntoArt’s annual FERUS Festival comes to Pioneer Works! Ferus Festival is VIA’s designated incubation period that highlights new projects in a workshop performance setting. Highlighting some of the most exciting creators of music and theatre, the 2015 FERUS Festival is a two day extravaganza of new music, theatre, sound and visual worlds. Featured composers/musicians are Cornelius Dufallo (violin), Molly Joyce, Mikael Karlsson, Hafez Modirzadeh (alto saxophone), Gity Razaz, Agata Zubel (voice), with featured performers Leo Genovese (piano), Lucy Dhegrae (soprano), Ariadne Greif (soprano), Patrick Jones (pianoforte), Inbal Segev (cello) and Jeffrey Zeigler (cello), production collaborators Carmen Kordas, Caroline Park, Austin Regan, and librettists Christopher Oscar Peña and Royce Vavrek.

The 2015 Ferus Festival is supported in part by the New Music USA Cary’s New Music Performance Fund and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in Partnership with the City Council. Agata Zubel is presented in partnership with the Polish Cultural Institute New York. Q2 is the official Ferus Festival Digital Partner.



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Jan 14-17, 2016: VisionIntoArt is thrilled to present the 3rd annual FERUS Festival, designed to showcase and incubate new projects, in our new home as the development branch of National Sawdust. A four-day extravaganza of new music, theater, and visuals, FERUS features discoveries from innovative international and local artists.


Thursday, January 14 (Show 1)


Ashley “Robi” Robicheaux, Multimedia

Jeffrey Zeigler, Cello

Agata Zubel, Composer and Vocalist


Thursday, January 14 (Show 2)

Pulsivity Works 2, excerpts from Resonance IVI, Two Friends in Ankara

Hafez Modirzadeh, Composer and Saxophone

Cornelius Dufallo, Violin

Leo Genovese, Piano

Jeffrey Zeigler, Cello


Friday, January 15

VisionIntoArt Showcase Concert
Epiphany: The Cycle of Life, Lullaby Movement

Paola Prestini, composer

Niloufar Talebi, librettist

Netsayi, composer and librettist

Sarah Kirkland Snider, composer

Nathaniel Bellows, librettist

Francisco J. Núñez, YPC Founder and Artistic Director,

Ian Rosenbaum, Percussion

Young People’s Chorus of New York City


Saturday, January 16

New works by Shamar Watt and Kelsey Lu, curated by Nora Chipaumiré 

Kelsey Lu, cellist, vocalist, and composer

Shamar Watt, choreographer and dancer


Sunday, January 17 (Show 1)

Home Within

Kinan Azmeh, Composer, Clarinet

Kevork Mourad, Visuals


Sunday, January 17 (Show 2)

Breath and Hammer

David Krakauer, Clarinet

Kathleen Tagg, Composer, Pianist


More information: nationalsawdust.org/ferus  


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VIA’s 2016 Ferus Festival at National Sawdust is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in Partnership with the City Council. Agata Zubel is presented in partnership with the Polish Cultural Institute New York. Q2 is the official Ferus Festival Digital Partner.