October 3, 2022

Lewis Center for the Arts presents The Atelier@Large: Conversations on Art-making in a Vexed Era with Gabriel Kahane and Anaïs Mitchell

Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts continues the Atelier@Large conversation series that brings guest artists to campus to discuss the challenges they face in making art in the modern world. For the third event in the 2022-23 series, critically acclaimed composer and singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane (February House, Magnificent Bird) and Grammy and Tony Award-winning singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell, creator of the Broadway hit Hadestown, join in discussion with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, Princeton’s Howard G.B. Clark ’21 University Professor in the Humanities and Director of the Princeton Atelier. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 11, in Richardson Auditorium on Princeton’s campus. The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required through University Ticketing. Richardson Auditorium is an accessible venue, and guests in need of access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at at least one week prior to the event date.

The Princeton Atelier, currently directed by Muldoon, was founded in 1994 by Toni Morrison, Nobel Laureate and Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities, Emeritus, at Princeton University. The Atelier brings professional artists from different disciplines together with Princeton faculty and students to create new work in the context of a semester-long course that culminates in the public presentation of the new work. Recent artists have included Stew, Laurie Anderson, the improv group Baby Wants Candy, and the Wakka Wakka Puppet Theatre. The Atelier@Large series, established in 2021, is an extension of the Princeton Atelier that brings guest artists to campus to speak on art’s role in the modern world.

“There’s a notion still doing the rounds,” says Muldoon, “that art is primarily a source of comfort and joy. That it’s all about salve, maybe even salvation. For many artists the true solace comes through their acceptance that art is in fact most interesting when it is most disruptive. The change a work of art represents often seems minor, but it may have major repercussions.”

Gabriel Kahane seated indoors in shadows, wearing plaid shirt and curly brown hair

Gabriel Kahane. Photo credit: Josh Goleman

Gabriel Kahane is a musician and storyteller whose work increasingly exists at the intersection of art and social practice. His most recent album, Magnificent Bird (2022), was hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “a gorgeous, intimate collection of ten musical snapshots.” Other recent works in his discography include To Be American (2021); Book of Travelers (2018); The Ambassador, which received an acclaimed staging at BAM directed by John Tiffany; as well as the original cast album for February House, which premiered at The Public Theater in 2012. In 2019, Kahane was named Creative Chair of the Oregon Symphony, following the premiere of his oratorio emergency shelter intake form, a work exploring inequality through the lens of housing issues. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker online and in The New York Times, and he has worked with an array of institutions and artists including Paul Simon, Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird, Phoebe Bridgers, Caroline Shaw, Chris Thile, Carnegie Hall, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. As a visiting lecturer at the Lewis Center in spring 2021, Kahane co-taught the Princeton Atelier course, “Art and Change in the Panopticon,” in which he and artist Christine Jones led students through a semester-long exploration of how people may aspire to change the world through art-making in a moment widely described as dystopian. A sought-after composer of concert works, Kahane will appear in the 2022-2023 season with the St. Louis Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Virginia Symphony, and the San Francisco Symphony.

anais mitchell stands outdoors in black sweater, she has shaggy blonde hair

Anaïs Mitchell. Photo credit: Jay Sansone

Anaïs Mitchell is a Vermont-based singer-songwriter and the Tony and Grammy Award-winning creator of the Broadway musical Hadestown. She was named to TIME Magazine’s prestigious TIME100 list in 2020, and her first book, Working On A Song — The Lyrics of Hadestown was published in the same year. Hailed by NPR as “one of the greatest songwriters of her generation” and “a formidable songwriting talent” by The New York Times, Mitchell comes from the world of narrative folksong, poetry and balladry. Among her recorded works are the original 2010 studio album of Hadestown, a folk opera based on the Orpheus myth; Young Man in America (2012); Child Ballads (2013), a collaboration with Jefferson Hamer; Bonny Light Horseman (2020), as part of the folk group Bonny Light Horseman; and Anaïs Mitchell (2022). She has headlined shows worldwide, with her music often featured in year-end best lists published by NPR, Wall Street Journal, MOJO, Uncut, Guardian, Sunday Times, and Observer, among others. Mitchell’s stage show of Hadestown, which was over a decade in the making, was first produced off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop and in Canada at Edmonton’s The Citadel, with record-breaking runs at both. In April 2019, Hadestown opened on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre and went on to win eight Tony Awards, the highest of any show that season, including Best Musical and Best Score for Mitchell. In 2020, she added a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album to her accolades for Hadestown. The New York Times called the show “inventive, beguiling and spellbinding” while Vogue declared that “Hadestown will be your new theater obsession.”

All guests must either be fully vaccinated, or have recently tested negative (via PCR within 72 hours or via rapid antigen test within 8 hours of the scheduled visit) and be prepared to show proof if asked, or wear a face covering when indoors and around others.

The Atelier@Large conversation series will continue on November 15 with Run-DMC founder Darryl McDaniels, author and dance critic Jennifer Homans, and Sean-nós singer Iarla O’Lionaird.

To learn more about the Princeton Atelier, the Lewis Center for the Arts, and the more than 100 public performances, exhibitions, readings, screenings, concerts, lectures, and special events presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts each year, most of them free, visit the Lewis Center website.

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