Evan Ziporyn's New Opera Premieres in Bali
A master of many forms of music
A master of many forms of music, Evan Ziporyn has a particular affinity for the sounds of Bali. Ziporyn, the Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Music, has been involved with Balinese gamelan—a kind of percussion orchestral music—since his 1981 Murray Fellowship from Yale University. In 1993, three years after coming to MIT as an assistant professor, he founded Gamelan Galak Tika, a popular performing group. Yet Ziporyn, a composer and musician, writes and performs music ranging from classical to hard rock, alternative to ensemble. He is a composer and soloist with the Bang on a Can All-Stars, a high-energy chamber ensemble, and has toured as a saxophonist with Paul Simon.
A House in Bali
Ziporyn now adds another credit to his lengthy resume: an opera based on a true-life story that combines Balinese and Western musical forms. "A House in Bali," based on a 1930s memoir of the same title, traces the roots of the West's century-long infatuation with Bali, through the true story of three Westerners - composer Colin McPhee, anthropologist Margaret Mead, and artist Walter Spies—during their 1930s sojourn in Bali. Ziporyn composed the music, which will be performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars and a Balinese gamelan directed by Dewa Ketut Alit, with choreography by Kadek Dewi Aryani. Marc Molomot, Anne Harley and Timur Bekbosunov will perform the roles of McPhee, Mead and Spies, respectively.
"A House in Bali" premieres June 26-27 in the Puri Saraswati, a part of the palace complex in the village of Ubud, Bali; it will be performed on Sept. 26-27 in the Zellerbach Auditorium at the the University of California, Berkeley. The MIT News Office caught up with Ziporyn by e-mail while he was in Bali preparing for the production.
Professor of Music