Around 1350, a young Jewish girl in a French village begins to have premonitions of the future. She draws rockets in the sand, explains these marvels to her grandfather, and visits a silent madwoman. The streets of the village are populated by farmers selling produce, itinerant storytellers and renegade friars. Like most of Meredith Monk's performance works, BOOK OF DAYS weaves together characters, music, movement, time and space. In this remarkably moving film, Monk skillfully draws parallels between a time of plague and fear of Apocalypse, and our time of AIDS and fear of nuclear annihilation.
Meredith Monk is a composer, singer, creator of new opera and musical theater works, films and installations. A pioneer in what is now called extended vocal technique and interdisciplinary performance, she is the fourth generation singer in her family. Since graduating from Sarah Lawrence College in 1964, she has created more than 100 works. During a career that spans more than 35 years she has been acclaimed by audiences and critics as a major creative force in the performing arts.
Monk has received numerous awards throughout her career, including the prestigious MacArthur Genius Award in 1995, two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Brandeis Creative Arts Award, three Obies (including an award for Sustained Achievement), two Villager Awards, a Bessie for Sustained Creative Achievement, the 1986 National Music Theatre Award, sixteen ASCAP Awards for Musical Composition and the 1992 Dance Magazine Award. She holds honorary Doctor of Arts degrees from Bard College, the University of the Arts, The Julliard School, and the San Francisco Art Institute. Her recordings Dolmen Music (ECM New Series) and Our Lady of Late: The Vanguard Tapes (Wergo) were honored with the German Critics Prize for Best Records of 1981 and 1986. Her music has been heard in numerous films, including La Nouvelle Vague by Jean-Luc Godard and The Big Lebowski by Joel and Ethan Coen. A new publishing relationship with Boosey & Hawkes will make Meredith Monk's music available to a wider public for the first time.
In 1965 Monk began her groundbreaking exploration of the voice as a multi-faceted instrument and subsequently composed and performed many solo pieces for unaccompanied voice and voice/keyboard. In 1978 she formed Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble to further expand her musical textures and forms. She has made more than a dozen recordings, most of which are on the ECM New Series label. Her music has been performed by numerous soloists and groups including The Chorus of the San Francisco Symphony, Musica Sacra, The Pacific Mozart Ensemble, Double Edge, and Bang On A Can All-Stars, among others.
Monk is a pioneer in site-specific performance, creating works such as Juice: A Theater Cantata In 3 Installments (1969) and most recently American Archeology #1: Roosevelt Island (1994). She is also an accomplished filmmaker who has made a series of award-winning films including Ellis Island (1981) and her first feature, Book Of Days (1988), which was aired on PBS, shown at the New York Film Festival and selected for the Whitney Museum’s Biennial. A retrospective art exhibition, Meredith Monk: Archeology of an Artist, opened at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center in 1996. Other recent art exhibits are comprised of a major installation, Art Performs Life at The Walker Art Center, a show “Shrines” at the Frederieke Taylor / TZ’ Art Gallery and inclusion in the Whitney Museum Century of American Art. A monograph, Meredith Monk, edited by Deborah Jowitt was released by Johns Hopkins Press in 1997.
In July 2000 her music was honored by a three concert retrospective as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. Earlier this year Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble completed a seven-week domestic tour of her latest work - Magic Frequencies: a science fiction chamber opera and in the spring of 1999 a domestic tour of A Celebration Service, a nonsectarian worship service commissioned by the American Guild of Organists and Union Theological Seminary that melds her haunting vocal music with spiritual texts drawn from two millennia. In October 1999 Monk performed a Vocal Offering for His Holiness, the Dalai Lama as part of the World Festival of Sacred Music in Los Angeles.