Photo by David Gallard

On Behalf of Nature (2013)

A poetic meditation on our intimate connection to nature and the fragility of the environment, On Behalf of Nature evokes the Buddhist notion of different realm categories, uniting heaven and earth by way of human beings. Drawing further inspiration from writers who have sounded the alarm on the state of our global ecology, Meredith Monk and her acclaimed Vocal Ensemble create a liminal space where human, natural and spiritual elements are woven into a delicate whole, illuminating the interconnection and interdependency of us all.

“As I began working on On Behalf of Nature, I asked myself the question ‘how would one create an ecological art work that does not make more waste in the world?’ Live performances leave no traces except, hopefully, in the mind of audience members. This ephemeral aspect is both poignant and exhilarating. Sometimes, though, the desire for novelty and surface excitement leads to buying a lot of new things, spending a great deal of money for an experience that only lasts a few hours. I wondered how one could make an alternative to that.” –Meredith Monk 

Conceived, directed, and composed by Meredith Monk
Performers: Sidney Chen, Ellen Fisher, Katie Geissinger, Bohdan Hilash, John Hollenbeck, Meredith Monk, Bruce Rameker, Allison Sniffin
Music Meredith Monk
Costume and Scenic Design Yoshio Yabara
Lighting Design Elaine Buckholtz
Sound Design Jody Elff
Music Direction / Score Preparation Allison Sniffin
Video editing Meredith Monk and Michael Grenadier
Developed in collaboration with Sidney Chen, Ellen Fisher, Katie Geissinger, Bohdan Hilash, John Hollenbeck, Meredith Monk, Bruce Rameker, Allison Sniffin

On Behalf of Nature premiered at UCLA CAP, Los Angeles, CA, with subsequence performances at Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD; Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland; Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Urbana-Champaign, IL; BAM Harvey Theater, Brooklyn, NY; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA; Galvin Playhouse, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ; Power Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

“a rapturous new work…some of the finest music Monk has yet written.” – Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, January 2013

“If nature were to rise up and speak in defense of itself, its voice might sound like a Meredith Monk theater piece.” – Charles T. Downey, The Washington Post, May 2013

“exquisite…magnificent music…there’s an integrity, a beauty and towering musical talent in Monk’s work that demands respect and love.” – Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman, August 2013

On Behalf of Nature (excerpts), UCLA CAP (2013)


Developmental support through residencies for On Behalf of Nature was generously provided by: UCLA CAP (Center for the Art of Performance), Los Angeles, CA;  Centre Culturel Andre Malraux, Vandoeuvre-lés-Nancy, France; Le Théâtre De Lorient, Centre Dramatique National, Lorient, France; Park Avenue Armory, New York, NY; Duke University, Durham, NC; and Roulette Intermedium, Brooklyn, NY.

Commissioning funds for the development of On Behalf of Nature were provided by:
The Brooklyn Academy of Music for the 2014 Next Wave Festival, ASCAP/American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers, The National Endowment for the Arts, New Music USA, and New York State Council on the Arts.

Additional support provided by:
Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation through USArtists International in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Individual support for the creation of On Behalf of Nature has been provided by:The James E. Robison Foundation, Haruno Arai, Jonathan Caplan, Sara Coffey, Sage Cowles, Anthony Creamier, Molly Davies, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Olivia Georgia, Goodale Family Foundation, Augusta H. Gross and Leslie B. Samuels, Jim Hodges, Ippei Iwashiro, Ada and Alex Katz, Abby Karp, Frances Kazan, Sali Ann Kriegsman, Toby Devan Lewis, Dorothy Lichtenstein, Frederic and Barbara Newman, Jonathan Nye, Mark Palermo, Donald Pels, Kira Perov and Bill Viola, Elizabeth Peyton, Barbara Sahlman, Sue and Steve Simring, Robert Evans and Gail P. Sinai, Catherine Skove, Ellynne C. Skove, Frederieke Sanders Taylor and Micki Wesson.


On Behalf of Nature was released as a recording on ECM Records in October 2016.


Promotional Video (2016)


“Monk proves naturally enrapturing” by Mark Swed; LA Times; January 21, 2013.

“Monk’s new work focuses on getting back to nature” by Neil Cooper; The Herald; August 16, 2013.

“Edinburgh International Festival: Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble – On Behalf of Nature” by Alan Coady; Bachtrack; August 16, 2013.

“Theatre: On Behalf of Nature” by Joyce McMillan; The Scotsman; August 17, 2013.

“Downtown Shaman,” by Alex Ross; The New Yorker; November 24, 2014.

“As nature intended” by John Yohalem; Parterre Box; December 4, 2014.

“Celebrating 50 Years of Artistry” by Deborah Jowitt; artsjournal; December 5, 2014.

“Meredith Monk’s ‘On Behalf of Nature’ at BAM” by Steven Pisano; Feast of Music; December 6, 2014.

“Monk Proves Herself to be a Natural Wonder” by Joshua Kosman; San Francisco Chronicle; March 20, 2015.