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Lesley Mok: Not One Or The Other

Festival Details - "Lesley Mok: Not One Or The Other"...

In this world premiere of a new transmedia work for film, music, and circus arts, Not One Or The Other explores the ways in which we forget or suppress ourselves to fit some mold, the stories we tell to stay hopeful, and the communal joy and solace we find in our chosen families.

Lesley Mok: composition, percussion, videographer, production,
Charmaine Lee: vocals
Maya Keren: piano
Aliya Ultan: cello
Gabrielle “Teddy” Ment: dancer, aerialist
Eleanor Getz: dancer, aerialist

Not One Or The Other will be presented virtually and available for free on a variety of streaming platforms. Roulette’s theater is currently closed for public performances as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the safety measures that Roulette has put in place to keep staff, artists, and the public safe.

Lesley Mok is a drummer, composer, and improviser who continually finds herself among Brooklyn’s most respected musicians and experimentalists. Interested in the ways social conditions shape our beings, Lesley’s work focuses on transposing, augmenting, and overacting humanness to explore ideas about normalcy, alienness, and privilege. Performing with artists such as Jen Shyu, Cory Smythe, and Tomeka Reid, Lesley has honed a unique voice as a drummer and percussionist by employing a dynamic range of timbres and orchestrations. Lesley received her undergraduate and master’s degree at Berklee College of Music in Contemporary Performance. She is an alumni of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute and the Banff Workshop for Jazz & Creative Music. She has studied and been mentored by Vijay Iyer, Tyshawn Sorey, Henry Threadgill, Billy Hart, Danilo Perez, and Terri Lyne Carrington.

Charmaine Lee is a New York-based vocalist. Her music is predominantly improvised, favoring a uniquely personal approach to vocal expression concerned with spontaneity, playfulness, and risk-taking. Beyond extended vocal technique, Charmaine uses amplification, feedback, and microphones to augment and distort the voice. She has performed with leading improvisers Nate Wooley, id m theft able, and Ikue Mori, and maintains ongoing collaborations with Conrad Tao, Victoria Shen, Zach Rowden, and Eric Wubbels. She has performed at ISSUE Project Room, the Kitchen, Roulette, the Stone, and MoMA PS1, and participated in festivals including Resonant Bodies, Huddersfield Contemporary, and Ende Tymes. She has been featured in group exhibitions including The Moon Represents My Heart: Music, Memory and Belonging at the Museum of Chinese in America (2019). As a composer, Charmaine has been commissioned by the Wet Ink Ensemble (2018) and Spektral Quartet (2018). In 2019, she was an Artist-in-Residence at ISSUE Project Room. Charmaine is currently a member of the Editorial Board of Sound American.

Maya Keren is a Philadelphia-raised pianist and composer currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Music at Princeton University. In the summer of 2019, Maya attended the Banff International Workshop for Jazz & Creative Music, where she redefined her understanding of musicality. She came to discover that the most meaningful musical moments emerge from playing with musicians who are skillful and selfless listeners, and that ultimately music is an act of openness and generosity. She carries this sentiment with her whenever she performs — highlights include a weeklong tour of London, Brussels, Berlin, and Paris with Julien Chang’s indie-rock-jazz band in October 2019, hits at the Smalls late-night session with Mimi Jones, and a showcase at National Sawdust with Moon! Moon!, a collaborative acoustic improvised duo with bassist Akiva Jacobs, for Laurie Anderson and Arto Lindsay’s Spatial Sound Lab. Most recently, Maya was recognized by the Jazz Education Network’s Young Composer Showcase and Sisters in Jazz programs for her work as a dual composer-performer. Right now, she’s thinking about Olivier Messiaen’s study of bird calls and the idiosyncratic musical vocabulary of Thelonious Monk.

Aliya Ultan (b. 1996) is a composer/improviser, cellist and vocalist from Brooklyn, NY. Born into a family of artists and musicians, Ultan was immersed in a variety of creative mediums and environments. Ultan grew up periodically homeless with her mother, sister and two cats traveling across the U.S. and Canada. At age 12, Ultan fell in love with the cello turning it into her way out of poverty. Emerging from a unique yet challenging childhood, Ultan participated in the New York Philharmonic’s Very Young Composer’s Program where her music was both workshopped and performed at the Lincoln Center. Throughout her classical training, Ultan maintained an interdisciplinary approach to creating art which has led to performances with the International Contemporary Music Ensemble (ICE) and master improviser Douglas Ewart of the AACM, among others. Ultan utilizes her voice as a mechanism to communicate vulnerability that is unfettered by sociality. When in combination with her cello playing, Ultan uses both instruments to contort pitch centers and reconstruct sonic spaces. This has led her to create various techniques such as particular ways of detuning the cello to expand its range, allowing it to cross instrumental bounds. By rethinking certain mannerisms (assumptions) applied to the cello, Ultan has extensive documentation of her techniques that detail a new perspective on the anatomy of the cello. While studying Cello Performance and Composition at the Oberlin Conservatory, Ultan often performed with Aaron Dilloway of Wolf Eyes as well as other local noise artists in Ohio. While living in the midwest, Ultan realized a circus group (Les Filles Circus) with her sister Taiga Ultan, in collaboration with the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theater and Minneapolis Insitute of Art. With a passion for physical theater, circus arts, and opera, Ultan has won numerous awards for transmedial works including From the Top’s Jack Kent Cooke Award, YoungArts, Oberlin College’s Flint Initiative Grant, and XARTS. Ultan holds a BM in Composition from the Oberlin Conservatory and is currently pursuing her Masters in Composition with Dr. Tyshawn Sorey at Wesleyan University.

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