Groundbreaking Works-in-Progress Series Returns in October for its Fifth Season, Featuring Gordon Voidwell, Helga Davis, William Caballero, Greg Tate and Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber

Intimate Performances by Artists Pushing the Boundaries in

Performance Art, Opera, Film, Funk, Hip-Hop and Rock and Roll

September 9, 2010 (New York, NY) – The Apollo Theater today announced details of its 2010 Salon Series, an annual artist workshop and performance series designed to foster the development of works-in-progress by artists who are working out of the mainstream and who are innovators in their particular genres. Presented on the Apollo’s third-floor Soundstage, the Salon Series provides an intimate setting for emerging and established artists to connect with audiences, and reflects the Apollo Theater’s ongoing commitment to developing fresh and bold new works.

Now in its fifth year, the 2010 Salon Series will spotlight artists who are pushing their artistic boundaries in creative new directions. From Gordon Voidwell’s psychedelic hip-funk to Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber’s experimental, multi-faceted sound, this year’s Salon Series artists are redefining the wide variety of genres they represent, from performance art to opera, and from film to funk and rock and roll.

“The Apollo has always been about ‘what’s next,’ and is an institution which has played a tremendous role in shaping American music and culture,” said Apollo Theater President & CEO Jonelle Procope. “In quite a different way from Amateur Night, the Salon Series honors our commitment to nurturing artists at all stages of their development, and we very much look forward to welcoming this year’s slate of artists to the Apollo’s Soundstage this October.”

Salon Series 2010: The Artists

Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber – “Burnt Sugar Freaks the James Brown Songbook (An Opera In Progress)”

Friday and Saturday, October 8th & 9th at 7:30 p.m.

Founded in 1999 by guitarist and noted writer Greg Tate, Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber was created as a forum for New York area improvisational musicians to explore the totality of black American music and its offshoots in the 21st century. The collective combines their many influences into exciting and innovative hybrids.  The results are based on a solid foundation of superb old school musicianship and cutting-edge music technology.

For the Salon Series, the 21-member Arkestra’s array of guitars, strings, horns, keyboards, percussion, and voices will re-orchestrate several medleys taken from James Brown’s three Live At The Apollo albums, and re-imagine them in the styles of Brown contemporaries such as Miles Davis, Sun Ra, John Coltrane, Nina Simone, Jimi Hendrix and Chaka Khan. This unique program has been subtitled “J.B.’s Funky Divas vs. the Revolution of the Mind” as it will not only feature music made famous by Mr. Brown himself but the productions and compositions he developed for his premiere female vocalists as well–notably Vicki Anderson, Lyn Collins and Marva Whitney.

Gordon Voidwell – “Who Killed Andy Warhol? / Who Shot Biggie Smalls?”

Friday and Saturday, October 15th & 16th at 7:30 p.m.

Gordon Voidwell, the alter ego of Bronx-born ex-chorister turned pop culture enthusiast Will Johnson, is fast becoming known for creating a sonic fusion mixing his unique pop & funk sound reminiscent of Prince, David Bowie, Cameo and George Clinton with a new, futuristic vibe.

Voidwell’s latest work, “Who Killed Andy Warhol? / Who Shot Biggie Smalls?”, a musical performance by Voidwell and his electro-acoustic backing band, combines video, sound, costume and choreography to trace the arc of pop culture from 1960s visual artist Andy Warhol to 1990s rap legend Biggie Smalls.  The performance will prompt audience members to create their own understanding of “pop” and the distinction between pop culture and high culture.

Helga Davis – “Mephisto’s Song”

Friday and Saturday, October 22nd and 23rd at 7:30 p.m.

Celebrated New York-based vocalist Helga Davis, whose inter-disciplinary practice includes work with composers and choreographers alike, constantly uses her powerhouse vocals and penchant to cross freely and seamlessly between genres to push the envelope and explore music’s unchartered terrains. With her piece “Mephisto’s Song”, Davis will present a stirring work-in-progress collaboration with multimedia artist Andrea Liberovici and composer Paola Prestini.

The performance, a multi-media songbook adapted from Goethe’s Faust, features Davis in a sonic/visual world created by Liberovici and Prestini.  The piece includes a recorded narration by Robert Wilson and a recorded cello improvisation by Jeffrey Zeigler.

William Caballero –“Speak! So the World Will Listen: Uganda”

Friday and Saturday, October 29th and 30th at 7:30 p.m.

MTV Movie Award nominated documentary filmmaker, music video director, and composer William D. Caballero’s current project, “Speak! So the World Will Listen: Uganda” is a multimedia experience that blends projected visuals and live music with audio testimony focusing on the culture, traditions, and strife facing Uganda today.

Pulling from a wide library of personally recorded interviews and footage, these stories are weaved in a culturally sensitive artistic medium, and are combined with a unique symphonic score performed by a string and woodwind ensemble that blends Ugandan rhythms with western classical music.

Visuals and music composed by William D. Caballero.

Ticket Information:

All tickets are $15 and are available through the Apollo Theater Box Office, 125th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, (212) 531-5305 and Ticketmaster, (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com

About the Salon Series

Since 2006, the Salon Series has brought edgy, downtown artists uptown to the Apollo, providing them a space to stretch their creative boundaries and present works-in-progress in/on the Theater’s Soundstage.  The Salon Series is the traditional “Apollo Experience” taken to the next level, providing both emerging and established artists with the space, resources, and feedback to aid in the creation of new work.  This groundbreaking series spotlights the Apollo’s continued dedication to its performing arts programming and its support of artistic experimentation and dialogue in contemporary culture. The series grows out of the Apollo’s ongoing role as an incubator for new and innovative forms of artistic expression, and its 75-year history of nurturing up-and-coming talent.  As with all Apollo Theater programming, the Salon Series recognizes the critical role of the audience in artistic development, and offers artists the opportunity to share new ideas in an intimate setting; with audience members seated no more than ten feet from the performers. 

Past Salon Series events have included works from creator-composer Fred Ho, DJ Spooky, poet Jessica Care Moore, jazz musician Russell Gunn, Craig Harris’ God’s Trombones, and a new theatrical staging of Melvin Van Peebles’ 1971 film Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song.

About the Apollo

Having celebrated its 75th anniversary season, the Apollo Theater is one of Harlem’s, New York City’s, and America’s most iconic and enduring cultural institutions.  The Apollo was one of the first theaters in New York, and the country, to fully integrate, welcoming traditionally African-American, Hispanic, and local immigrant populations in the audience, as well as headlining uniquely talented entertainers who found it difficult to gain entrance to other venues of similar size and resources.  Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo Theater has played a major role in cultivating artists and in the emergence of innovative musical genres including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop.  Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis, Jr., James Brown, Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, and countless others began their road to stardom on the Apollo’s stage. Based on its cultural significance and architecture, the Apollo Theater received state and city landmark designation in 1983 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Apollo Salon Series

The Apollo Salon Series is made possible, in part, by generous support from MetLife Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the New York State Council on the Arts.

Apollo performing arts programs are supported by the Neuberger Berman Foundation and the State of New York: New York State Senator Bill Perkins, New York State Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The Apollo’s annual programming is made possible by lead support from: The Coca-Cola Company, the Edward and Leslye Phillips Family Foundation, the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Bloomberg.

Media Contacts:

Apollo Theater Foundation                            Resnicow Schroeder Associates

Nina Flowers                                                   Julia Kirchhausen / Leah Sandals

nina.flowers@apollotheater.org jkirchhausen / lsandals@resnicowschroeder.com

212-531-5334                                                  212-671-5161 / 212-671-5154

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