In residence at the historic Judson Memorial Church, Marisa Michelson and Constellation Chor research the interaction of mind/body/spirit practices with virtuosic singing, and rigorously develop performance pieces. Called “generous” and “unpretentious” by Fiasco Theatre’s Artistic Director Ben Steinfeld, they engage with the intersection between voice, movement, storytelling, healing, meditation, gesture, inner-development, Oliveros’ Deep Listening, and music-theatre. The chor’s research explores performer as a presence-cultivator, truth-seeker, shaman, and the performance as an invitation to enter into an intimate, heightened, and revelatory relationship with the moment and each other.
Based on Marisa’s interest in the natural musical language of the body, Constellation Chor explores composition-as-improvisation and improvisation-as-composition. An accomplished musical theatre and choral composer, Marisa often teaches the Chor her compositions and arrangements while holding as primary that process is as important as product. With Constellation Chor, singing itself forms the core of Marisa’s artistic vision. Inspired by her intensive training with the Szamosi Libero Canto School of Singing based in NYC and Vienna, Marisa is interested in cultivating bodies free of extraneous tension, bodies which can then respond ever more spontaneously to the musical imagination.
In collaboration with Heartbeat Opera’s Artistic Director Ethan Heard and Choreographer Emma Jaster, Marisa has been developing her Desire and Divinity Project (a three-part exploration of the liminal space between longing for earthly love and divine love) with Constellation Chor. Part One, Song of Song of Songs, won a 2017 grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Part Two, Sappho Fragments, was presented by Heartbeat Opera in May. In February 2018, Sappho Fragments and Song of Song of Songs were performed together for the first time. Cindy Sibilsky of StageBiz wrote: “The experience is truly transcendent, in a time where such expressions of love and spirituality vary, if they exist at all. Marisa Michelson and the Constellation Chor have created a sacred space through the openness of their hearts and voices, starting with themselves.”
Presented by Crowded Outlet in October 2016, the Constellation Chor shared their first fully improvised, site-specific piece at Judson followed by an International trip to Iceland in 2017 to create a site-specific improvised piece at Harpa Opera Center in the capital of Reykjavik. Also with Crowded Outlet, Marisa Michelson and Constellation Chor presented a series of short wordless performance pieces at the Alchemical Theatre in December, 2017.
Current projects: Filmmaking and music installation of Marisa Michelson’s “Sappho Fragments” with filmmaker Paul Lieber; a collaboration with Butoh/energy-movement master Diego Pinon, produced by Shakina Nayfack. Upcoming residency at the Art Monastery in VT (2018).
Constellation Chor’s internationally and vocally diverse array of talent hails from Greece, Portugal, Hungary, Austria and the US, and has been seen on stages from New York to Dubai and BAM to Broadway. 2017-2018 Chor members include Marisa Michelson, Chad Goodridge, Jen Anaya, Tamrin Goldberg, Shawn Shafner, Kalli Siamidou, Luisa Muhr, and Sarah Beth Pfeifer. Satellite and orbiting members include Ako, Nikko Benson, Aubrey Johnson, Heathcliff Saunders, Raphael Sacks, Sara Serpa, Jason Tam, Nickolas Vaughn, and Kinga Cserjesi.