The first half of our Symphony Space program ends with a 20-minute work called Tablet, for the three women of The M6, who play piano and recorders in addition to singing. Tablet was the first piece that Meredith Monk had ever created for an ensemble, originally for four women and later revised for three. (Before Tablet was mostly solo work, and out of Tablet came Dolmen Music; our program follows a similar trajectory, for those who are interested in the structure behind it.) The only available recording of the piece is on a Wergo album that isn't even distributed in the US, as far as I know.
Last year, Tablet was heard in concert again for the first time in nearly two decades, first at La Mama and then at The Stone. I recently heard someone talking about how, in performing or listening to Meredith's music, which is often sung on unintelligible syllables, you start out thinking that these syllables mean nothing, but eventually come to realize they actually encompass everything. The three performers in Tablet move through a number of characters, archetypal women who appear in various guises throughout Meredith's work. They chatter, laugh, mourn, berate, flirt, comfort. The ending of piece includes a persona Meredith described to Holly during one of their coachings as The Oldest Woman in the World. An excerpt from The Stone performance is below.
Pictured above: Emily Eagen, Holly Nadal, and Silvie Jensen (standing) in a coaching with Meredith Monk and Andrea Goodman, one of the original Tablet performers