Karmina Šilec: The Choregie Method and BABA: The Life and Death of Stana — Artist Lecture


Friday, January 20, 2023, 7:30 – 8:30pm PST
Lisser Hall 101 Theater, Lisser 102 Lobby, Lisser Hall Terrace

Karmina Šilec: The Choregie Method and BABA: The Life and Death of Stana — Artist Lecture

Presented by Mills College at Northeastern University Performing Artist-in-Residence Program, We Are the Voices, and Kitka Women's Vocal Ensemble

This event is free and open to the public.

In this lecture, author, composer, and director Karmina Šilec, speaks about her “Choregie” process of multi-disciplinary meta-composition, shares excerpts of past works, and previews her current work-in-development BABA: The Life and Death of Stana.

BABA is inspired by real and imagined stories of Balkan sworn virgins (women who live as men after taking vows of chastity and celibacy). The tradition of sworn virgins is rooted in a centuries-old social code of law present in remote rural regions of Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Serbia. Born as women, life circumstances—including the loss of male relatives in blood feuds or a desire to escape an oppressive arranged marriage—led these individuals to become men to gain the honors, rights, privileges, and freedoms of community patriarchs. The motives for this gender transformation were traditionally social responsibility and family honor, as opposed to sexual preference or feelings of being male by nature. BABA brings to light a disappearing practice of women sacrificing their sexuality and transforming themselves into men as a means of survival in an isolated, dangerous, impoverished, and intensely patriarchal and gender-binary part of the world.
An innovative, non-narrative take on Balkan epic story-singing traditions, BABA explores themes of gender, otherness, choice, virginity, sexual identity, and the complexities of interpreting these Balkan gender-transformation stories through a contemporary, liberal, Western lens.

The world premiere of BABA: The Life and Death of Stana is February 23-26 at ZSpace in San Francisco.

Karmina Šilec is the artistic director and conductor of Carmina Slovenica, New Music Theater Choregie and Ensemble ¡Kebataola!. With her artistic concept Choregie and a research-oriented process, she has brought freshness and originality to the world of vocal music and theater. As a conductor, author, and director, she has had projects with numerous theater companies, opera houses and ensembles worldwide. Her interests lie in music-driven theater, music that refers or reacts to other fields, the human voice as a central fascination, and the exploration of different music and theater languages.
Šilec has received two Music Theatre NOW awards, the Robert Edler Prize for Choral Music and, together with her companies, the Golden Mask and more than 20 other international awards. Her ensembles have performed at such highly esteemed venues and festivals as the Dresdner Musikfestspiele; Festival d’Automne à Paris; Holland Festival; Hong Kong Cultural Centre; Melbourne International Arts Festival; Moscow Easter Festival; Operadagen Rotterdam; Prototype Festival; the Ruhrtriennale; St. Petersburg Philharmonia Grand Hall; Teatro Colón; Teresa Carreño Theater; and the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space. In 2017, she was nominated for the Europe Prize Theatrical Realities.

The commissioning, creation, and presentation of BABA; The Life and Death of Stana is supported, in part, by The Hewlett50 Arts Commissions, The National Endowment for the Arts, New Music USA, the City of Oakland Cultural Funding Program, the Zellerbach Family Foundation, Mills Performing Arts, The Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Berkeley Repertory Theater’s Ground Floor Artist Residencies, and a global village of generous individual donors.

Mills College at Northeastern University Performing Artist-in-Residence (PAIR) Program promotes action and exchange in the performing arts by providing facility use and performance opportunities to artists that represents the abundant cultural, racial, gender, and economic diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area.

We Are The Voices is a Mellon Foundation Higher Learning funded project linking Mills College at Northeastern University students and faculty with poets and scholars working in Oakland and beyond.