Colorado River to Be Celebrated in Live Music Video with Grammy-Winning Choral Group at MASS MoCA

water songs image(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – Water Songs: Ha Tay G’am, a new live music and video project exploring the profound history of the Colorado River, featuring compositions by John Luther Adams, William Brittelle, Shara Worden, Sarah Kirkland Snider, and Paola Prestini performed by Grammy Award-winning choral group Roomful of Teeth, will receive a work-in-progress staging in the Hunter Center at MASS MoCA on Saturday, March 1, 2014, at 8pm.

Ha Tay G’am (a Native American term for the Colorado River) is a project to create a crossroads between art, ecology, and regional history while increasing audiences’ awareness of and sensitivity to pressing current issues. Exploring water, land, and survival in the Colorado River Basin, Ha Tay G’am is a purely visual documentary accompanied by original music, intended to be equal parts film, live performance, and educational tool.

“This project represents the unfolding of a new type of interdisciplinary practice for our community,” Prestini says. “By exploring social history and ecology in an integrated manner with a renowned conservationist and an extraordinary team of composers, filmmakers and educators, we hope to produce a deeply layered work that resonates and brings a longstanding artistic contribution to our national treasure, the Colorado.”

Roomful of Teeth (photo David and Rako)

Roomful of Teeth (photo David and Rako)

Working with the composers and vocalists are filmmakers Sylvestre Campe, David Sarno, and Murat Eyuboglu; librettist Dana Bonstrom, and education advisor, historian and conservationist William deBuys, whose book Salt Dreams: Land and Water in Low-Down California is one of the main inspirations for this project. The team will be in residence at MASS MoCA from February 24 through March 1, creating dialogue between the artists and finding common ground for collaboration. After talking with deBuys, the artists will delve into deepening their understanding of their respective sections, how they relate to the text and seek deeper currents of truth from deBuys’s perspective on the Colorado. After working in depth on the libretto and film, the team will focus on the initial musical sections.

Ha Tay G’am provides windows onto the history of the region through the perspectives of actual and imaginary characters, with the Colorado River as an aquatic thread through this seemingly disconnected sequence of episodes across time and space. A Native American storyteller mixes legend with geology, an acrobat works as a high-scaler at the Hoover dam, a migrant worker toils in the fertile fields nearby – each tells a story at once distinct and interwoven with the larger history. When completed, Ha Tay G’am will be presented as both a stand-alone film and combined with live music. An accompanying study guide is designed for students, who can explore a holistic history of the Colorado River Basin through archival resources, recent film materials and expert commentary.

A full bar, and dinner and snacks from Lickety Split, are available before and during the show. Tickets are $15 general and $10 for students. Members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA box office, located on Marshall Street in North Adams, from 11am to 5pm (open every day except Tuesdays). Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 x1 during box office hours or purchased online at MASS MoCA.


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