Choral Marx is a singing adaptation of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’s Manifesto for the Communist Party composed by Ethan Philbrick. It is a piece for mixed chorus—mixed not just in terms of gendered voice parts but also in terms of training and ability—made up of vocalists from both the contemporary music scene and socialist organizing communities, accompanied by the composer on cello. Choral Marx re-sounds Marx and Engels’s 1848 critique of capitalism in 2018 and explores the resonance of the Manifesto today.

Ethan Philbrick, a Brooklyn-based composer and writer, has performed original work in New York at BRIC, SculptureCenter, Abrons Arts Center and the Grey Art Gallery. His writing has been published in TDRPAJ, Women and Performance, Studies in Gender and Sexuality and Movement Research Performance Journal. He is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at Muhlenberg College. ethanphilbrick.com

Performed by:
Benjamin Bath
Gelsey Bell
Sarah Chihaya
Hai-ting Chinn
Tomás Cruz
Amirtha Kidambi
Brian McQueen
Gizelxanath Rodriguez
Ryan Tracy

Assistant Director:
Kristen Holfeur

Costume Designer:
effie bowen

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BIOS

Benjamin Bath (performer) is a labor organizer and musicologist based in New York City.

Gelsey Bell (performer) is a singer, songwriter, and scholar. Her performance creations have been presented internationally and she has released multiple albums. She is a core member of thingNY, Varispeed, and the Chutneys. She received a 2017 Foundation for Contemporary Arts award for music/sound, was the 2018 EtM Ridgewood Bushwick Composer-in-Residence, and she has been an artist-in-residence at Roulette in Brooklyn, NY. Her works include Bathroom SongsScalingOur Defensive MeasurementsPrisoner’s Song (with Erik Ruin), This Takes Place Close By (with thingNY), the acclaimed adaptation of Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives (with Varispeed), and multiple collaborations with choreographers. Performance highlights include Dave Malloy’s Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812 (on Broadway) and Ghost Quartet, Robert Ashley’s Crash, Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler’s River of Fundament, Kate Soper’s Here Be Sirens, and Gregory Whitehead’s On the Shore Dimly Seen. www.gelseybell.com

effie bowen (costume designer) is an artist working in New York since 2010. She makes performances and garments occupied with perverting social dynamics of seeing and being seen. Her work has been featured in Girls Like Us, Women & Performance, and The Brooklyn Rail. She has performed for Ryan McNamara, Jen Rosenblit, Narcissister, and Gabriel Rivera. Her garments have been featured in Colin Self’s production of SIBLINGS, at a collaborative pop up at Lil Debs Oasis and at Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons in Utrecht, NL. 

Sarah Chihaya (performer) is an assistant professor of English at Princeton University, where she teaches contemporary fiction and film. She is currently working on a book about recent experiments in historical fiction, and on a co-written book on Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet.

Hai-Ting Chinn (performer) performs in a wide range of styles, from Purcell to Pierrot Lunaire, Cherubino to The King & I, J.S. Bach to P.D.Q. Bach. She has sung with New York City Opera, The Wooster Group, OperaOmnia, American Symphony Orhcestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Waverly Consort, on London’s West End, and at Festivals including the Edinburgh, Verbier, Grimeborn, Tête-à-Tête, Festival d’Autumne, and Resonant Bodies. Hai-Ting is also the creator of Science Fair: An Opera With Experiments, a staged show of science set to music. www.hai-ting.com

Tomás Cruz (performer) is known for his “… gorgeous, mellifluous, pure tone (New York Classical Review),” as well as his stylistic flexibility. He has performed new operas and concert works by Steve Reich, Judd Greenstein, Missy Mazzoli, Anthony Braxton, Matthew Schickele, Pulitzer Prize-winning Du YunPetr Kotik, Matt Marks, and Toshi Reagon, among others. Other credits include the world tour of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s opera, Einstein On The Beach, SNL, Damien Rice, Helga Davis’ The Love Show, a cappella group Duwende, and experimental ensemble Ekméles. He has recorded for Nickelodeon (Duwende), Chris Cerrone, Matthew Sheens, Yelena  Eckemoff, and has performed/recorded for live art works by Martin Creed, Andrea Galvani, Miguel Gutierrez, Amber Sloan and Jane Bensonwww.tomasvoice.com

Kristen Holfeuer (Assistant Director) Born and raised in Saskatoon, Kristen has worked across Canada as a director, actor, choreographer, and producer for both independent and regional theatre companies. She received training from the One Yellow Rabbit Intensive, Magnetic North Compass Points program, Luminato Festival Copycat Academy, Old Trout Puppet Workshop, The Grotowski Institute in Wroclaw, the Globe Theatre Conservatory Actor Training Program, and Nightwood Theatre’s Female Director’s Summit. Kristen is the founder of Archive Theatre which creates and produces movement-based theatre in a style called “Glyphwork”.  She is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan’s Bachelor of Fine Arts acting program and holds a M.A. in Performance Studies from NYU Tisch. Directing credits include: Beat (Dixon Place), Amy Surratt’s First and Last (show) (La MaMa ETC.), Matchstick (Persephone Theatre, Great Canadian Theatre Company), and Alaska (Short Cuts Festival).

Amirtha Kidambi (performer) is invested in the creation and performance of subversive music, from free improvisation and avant-jazz, to experimental bands and new music. As a bandleader, she is the creative force behind Elder Ones, featuring rising New York artists Matt Nelson on soprano saxophone, Nick Dunston on bass and Max Jaffe on drums and electronic sensory percussion. In 2018 Kidambi premiered a solo improvisatory work Yajna and Lines of Light for improvising vocal quintet with Emilie Lesbros Jean-Carla Rodea, Anais Maviel and Charmaine Lee, as the Artist-in-Residence at Roulette. She is in an active improvised duo with electronic musician Lea Bertucci, who manipulates Kidambi’s voice live with tape machine. Kidambi is a collaborator in Mary Halvorson’s latest quintet Code Girl, with Darius Jones, Maria Grand, William Parker and Charlie Looker’s band Seaven Teares. As an improviser, she has played with New York luminaries including Matana Roberts, Tyshawn Sorey, Ingrid Laubrock, Ava Mendoza, Fay Victor, Trevor Dunn, Ben Vida, Tyondai Braxton and Shahzad Ismaily. Kidambi worked closely with composer Robert Ashley until the end of his life, premiering his final opera CRASH and had the honor of working with Muhal Richard Abrams for the premiere of Dialogue Social in 2013.

Brian McQueen (performer) is a bass-baritone residing in New York City. He has appeared with the Lyric Opera Theatre of Arizona State University, Miami Univeristy Opera, Janiec Opera Company, the Manchester Literary Festival, Poetry International, and Trilogy: An Opera Company. As a recitalist, he has performed as Artist in Residence at the Tohno International Arts Association, touring in Japan, The Metropolitan Opera Guild, and the Dowling International Center’s Concert Series. A performer and teacher, Brian marries his artistic pursuits with his interest in social activism. He most recently presented We Wear the Masc, a performance piece produced by Chashama involving art song, original prose poetry, and multimedia which investigates life at the intersections of being black, femme, and non-binary. He has also presented for The Tenderness Project and was a 2017 fellow with Emerging Leaders in New York Arts (ELNYA). Brian holds a BA in Music from the University of South Carolina, an MM in Voice from Miami University of Ohio, and is an alumnus of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.

Gizelxanath Rodriguez (performer) is an internationally renowned vocalist​. She studied in Austria at the prestigious Mozarteum Hochschule für Musik, the Conservatory of Tijuana, and the University of Baja California in Mexico. Fluent in 6 languages, Gizel has recorded three solo albums and continues her work today by reclaiming her identity as an Indigenous woman of Yaqui descent, leading a band with her partner Ben Barson, the Afro Yaqui Music Collective, who most recently performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and the ASCAP Jazz awards in Los Angeles, C.A. Gizelxanath is also politically active in international social movements​ related to Indigenous rights and ecological justice / ecosocialism. She was a delegate to the First Ecosocialist International, a historic gathering of over 100 activists from 5 continents in the Maroon afro-descendent community of Veroes, Venezuela. She has worked with Zapatista organizations based in Chiapas for several years, helping organize the East Coast Chiapas Solidarity Committee and providing musical performances and lessons to Zapatista Indigenous youth. She also works with community farmers in Pittsburgh to build food sovereignty with oppressed communities.

Ryan Tracy (performer) makes art, is obsessed with theory and tennis, and self-identifies as a gay homosexual.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Performance Studies.
NYU Institute of Performing Arts Performance Studies logo

Photo: Amelia Golden

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Barbara Browning

It’s an ongoing study in how to labor, and learn, together.