Rufus Wainwright to Play Benefit for Basilica Hudson

Rufus Wainwright (photo Seth Rogovoy)

Rufus Wainwright (photo Seth Rogovoy)

(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Folk-pop singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright performs an intimate, solo concert at Basilica Hudson on Saturday, October 22, at 8pm. Wainwright is widely regarded as one of the best songwriters of his generation by his fellow musicians, critics, and audiences alike, and in addition to eight albums of his own songs and film soundtracks, he has written a classical opera and set Shakespearean sonnets to music for a theater piece by Robert Wilson.

Wainwright’s concert is a benefit for Basilica Hudson, which was cofounded by his childhood friend, Basilica director Melissa Auf der Maur. The two musicians grew up together in the vibrant culture of Montreal. As Montrealers living in the U.S., both dual citizens who have made their careers in America, they share a strong connection to their home city and to the national values that make the arts an integral part of the social fabric of Canada, well supported by the government and the general public. Two weeks out from the U.S. presidential election, these two artists will ponder the existential question of what role the arts can and should play in these turbulent times.

In addition to being a scion of the Wainwright and McGarrigle musical dynasties – his father is Loudon Wainwright III and his mother was the late Kate McGarrigle — Wainwright is also related in a sense to Leonard Cohen, as the father of Cohen’s granddaughter, and sort of to Richard Thompson, through his close musical friendship and collaboration with Thompson’s son, Teddy.

Wainwright also has close ties to the region, having been born in Rhinebeck, N.Y., where he lived for the first three years of his life, and then having returned to the area to attend the Millbrook School.

Rufus Wainwright

Rufus Wainwright

The event at Basilica Hudson will begin with a conversation between Wainwright and Auf der Maur. The conversation will act as a backdrop for the evening, advancing the organization’s mission and vision while setting the stage or what promises to be an epic grand piano performance by Wainwright in the industrial church. Embodying the kind of free and fearless artistic path that Basilica Hudson strives to support, Wainwright’s singular musical gift is symbolic of the organization’s dedication to present an always vibrant roster of art and community programs.

This event also marks a turning point for the organization, the culmination of six years of effort towards building a sustainable nonprofit arts and community event space. Basilica Hudson successfully achieved formal 501(c)(3) non-profit status this fall, based on a dynamic roster of programs established since its founding in 2010. The Pioneering People benefits, of which this is one, are the organization’s most important annual fundraising activity. Proceeds from the event will allow the organization to build sustainability for the long term, ensuring Basilica Hudson can continue to experiment, explore and reach further, and to always serve as an important local, regional and national platform for artistic expression, freedom and exploration.

Mostly raised in Montreal by his mother after his parents split, Wainwright — the brother of Martha Wainwright — has achieved his success by carving out his own singular sound in the worlds of rock, opera, theater, dance, and film. He has released seven studio albums, three DVDs, and three live albums. He has also collaborated with a wide range of artists, including Elton John, David Byrne, Boy George, Joni Mitchell, Pet Shop Boys, Robbie Williams, and producer Mark Ronson, among others.

In addition to being a celebrated contemporary pop singer, Wainwright has made a name for himself in the classical world. His much-acclaimed first opera, “Prima Donna,” premiered at the Manchester International Festival in 2009. The opera was subsequently performed in London at Sadler’s Wells, in Toronto at the Luminato Festival, and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House. Now fully established as a composer of operas, he has been commissioned by the Canadian Opera Company to write his second opera based on the story of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and Antinous. The new opera will premiere in Toronto in October 2018.



This special event on October 22 is part of Basilica Hudson’s Pioneering People Series, a bi-annual program celebrating pioneering artists across a range of disciplines, and including a benefit performance. The inaugural program featured the one man show of visionary filmmaker and one-of-a-kind personality John Waters.

Wainwright’s performance will take the crowd back to his roots of raw, intimate performances in Montreal’s dark piano bars decades ago, a monumental period of creative freedom when Wainwright and Auf der Maur found themselves and their voices in music, propelling them into a lifetime of friendship and commitment to the performing arts.

The performance will provide the audience with a stark juxtaposition to Wainwright’s recent extravagant performances of Judy Garland with full orchestra and touring with his “Prima Donna” opera, as well as his newest album, “Take All My Loves: 9 Shakespeare Sonnets.” Wainwright comes to Hudson on the heels of his ambitious Carnegie Hall concert.



Rufus Wainwright, one of the great male vocalists and songwriters of his generation, has released seven studio albums, three DVDs, and three live albums. He has collaborated with artists ranging from Elton John, David Byrne, Mark Ronson, Joni Mitchell to Burt Bacharach. At the age of 14 he was named Canada’s best young musician and later received the Juno Award for Best Alternative Album. His album “Rufus Does Judy,” recorded at Carnegie Hall in 2006, was nominated for a Grammy.

His acclaimed first opera, Prima Donna, premiered at the Manchester International Festival in July 2009 and has since been presented in London, Toronto and BAM in New York. In 2010 Wainwright was commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony to compose and interpret “Five Shakespeare Sonnets,” a five-movement song cycle that sets Shakespeare’s “Sonnets” to orchestra and voice. They have since been performed worldwide by orchestras including the Chicago and Montreal Symphonies.

In 2010, Wainwright was the first artist to complete a five-concert residency at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London. In September 2014 he had his debut with the London Proms at Royal Albert Hall and performed at the Last Night of the Proms in the Park.

Other achievements include the 2012 world premiere of Sing Me The Songs That Say I Love You: A Concert for Kate McGarrigle, the feature length music documentary that captured the May 2011 tribute concert honoring Rufus’ late mother, the legendary Kate McGarrigle. In 2013 he sang for Billy Joel at the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington and the fall of 2015 saw the Deutsche Grammophon release of a double CD/vinyl recording of Prima Donna with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

The Canadian Opera Company commissioned Wainwright’s second opera, about Roman Emperor Hadrian, to premiere in Toronto in the Fall of 2018



Basilica Hudson is a non-profit multidisciplinary arts center in Hudson, NY, supporting the creation, production and presentation of arts and culture while fostering sustainable community. Founded in 2010 by musician Melissa Auf der Maur and filmmaker Tony Stone, Basilica Hudson makes its home in a spectacular solar-powered reclaimed 1880s industrial factory on the waterfront of the historic City of Hudson. Weekend destination events comprise the core of Basilica Hudson’s music, performance, film, food and literary programming, alongside regular film screenings series, art exhibitions, and other community gatherings. The artistic program has taken shape thanks to many partners, collaborators, visiting artists, friends, adventurous audiences and community members.


Visit Basilica Hudson for more information on this and other upcoming events this season.

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