Menilfest: Anecdote of the Spirit

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The Menil Collection and surrounding nonprofit organizations presented their annual Menilfest community arts festival, a free afternoon of exhibitions, performances, and readings that extends across the Menil neighborhood. In collaboration with Menilfest, the Rothko Chapel activated the Chapel and the plaza between the hours of 11am-6pm with a music performance, interactive labyrinth dance, on-site tours, and refreshments by SweetCup Gelato. 3-4:30pm Anecdote of the Spirit Music created by Misha Penton, soprano, and Thomas Helton, double bass Misha Penton, soprano and experimental vocal composer, and Thomas Helton, composer and double bassist, created music through spontaneous and improvised compositional techniques, yielding quiet, spacious, beautiful and intense sounds, in keeping with the sacred environment of the Chapel. The audience was invited to wander in and out of the Chapel for a quiet, introspective, and contemplative experience. “Anecdote of the Spirit” is a direct quote from Mark Rothko, and in full reads: “Art to me is an anecdote of the spirit, and the only means of making concrete the purpose of its varied quickness and stillness.” Rothko’s quote speaks to the inarticulable in art and music: the essential and transformational experience of the work not communicable with descriptive words. About the performers Misha Penton is a contemporary opera singer, experimental vocal composer, and writer. Her work explores the intersection of new music performance; new opera theater; soundscape composition; and classical and extended vocal techniques. She is the founder, artistic director of Divergence Vocal Theater, a Houston-based opera, new music and multi-performing arts ensemble. Misha's performance work has appeared at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Dallas Museum of Art, Menil Collection, University of Houston Center for Creative Work, and DiverseWorks Arts Space Houston; organizations and ensembles she has sung with include Houston Grand Opera, Mercury, and Foundation for Modern Music. Misha's recordings include Selkie (2013, composer Elliot Cole), ravens & radishes (2014, composer George Heathco), and The Captured Goddess (2015, composer Dominick DiOrio). www.mishapenton.com Thomas Helton is a composer and bassist who writes and performs music in both solo and ensemble settings. As a composer Mr. Helton was awarded a Houston Arts Alliance Individual Artist Fellowship Grant in 2007. He was awarded an artist residency for the commission and premiere of Pride from DiverseWorks ArtSpace in Houston in October 2004 in collaboration with video artist Maria del CarmenMontoya. Other new music commissions include 5 works for the Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble. His work, Black Rain (2005) was chosen to be performed as part of FotoFest’s 2006 Biennial dedicated to the themes of The Earth and Artists Responding to Violence. As a bassist, Thomas Helton performs with his own ensemble, The Core Trio, as well as with many celebrated jazz and free improv artists. www.thomashelton.org

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