Vexations in Time
The Why Collective
Vexations in Time is a semi-improvisatory and interdisciplinary performance that presents a durational exercise for the performers and audience alike. Based on the mysteriously repetitive, one-page piano work “Vexations” by French composer Erik Satie this piece is a commentary on what it felt like to create art during the 14-months of theater lockdown in NYC. By performing Vexations in Time, the artists are reimagining Erik Satie’s original piece and reflecting on the collective uncertainty felt during the re-opening of the world and the reemergence of the heartbeat of NYC.
A quartet of pianists takes turns and performs the piece on a single piano in unbroken rotating shifts until the completion of 840 repetitions as indicated by the composer for approximately 14 hours. As the pianists loop the one-minute theme, a collective of other musicians filter in and out and add layers to the soundscape. These artists perform unrelated songs, improvisatory responses, and newly composed lines that are written by the resident composer. Amidst the whirl of sound creation, dancers illustrate the shifting soundscape with movement. Throughout the performance, the artists create an integrative experience and invite the audience to interact through poetry, open mic, and improvisation.
About the Artists
The Why Collective is a professional collegium of creators and thinkers who are seeking deeper truths through the art of questioning. Founded by Sydney Anderson, The Why Collective is dedicated to roundtable-style artistic inception and creation. It seeks to provide a place for artists of various disciplines to work together while maintaining the artistic agency of individual contributors.
Sydney Anderson (she/her) is a versatile soprano, actor, director, educator, and founder of The Why Collective. As a contemporary classical music enthusiast Sydney has participated in numerous world premieres and workshops at various stages of creative activities. She has recently been featured with American Lyric Theater, Beth Morrison Projects (National Sawdust), HERE Arts, Opera Saratoga, and Opera NEO. Later this season she will create the role of Dalinda in the world premiere of Being Ariodante, an opera by Juilliard composition professor Jonathan Dawe.
Heather Jones (they/them) is a Brooklyn-based Mezzo-soprano who performs classical and crossover repertoire with mischievous freshness and enthusiasm. They recently won the Sherrill Milnes Opera Award in the American Traditions Vocal Competition. In 2021 Heather sang the role of Hannah After in the Maine premiere of As One with Opera Maine and joined Opera Company of Middlebury as Paquette in a film production of Candide that Opera News called “superb.” In past seasons, Heather has performed with Opera Philadelphia, New York City Opera, American Lyric Theatre, Opéra Louisiane, Opera Fayetteville, Opera Saratoga, and ChamberQUEER in NYC. Heather can be heard on the cast recordings of Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock and Offenbach’s The Isle of Tulipatan, both available on Spotify.
Slavina Zhelezova (she/her) is an internationally acclaimed pianist. She has appeared at venues throughout North America, Europe, Taiwan, and China. Performance highlights include recitals at Cervantino International Festival, El Blanco y Negro Piano Festival (Mexico), and Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series. Orchestra appearances include Shumen Philharmonic Orchestra (Bulgaria), Xalapa Symphony Orchestra, and Puebla Symphony Orchestra (Mexico). As part of the Guevara & Zhelezova Piano Duo, Slavina has toured Mexico and has premiered numerous works, including the Latin-American premiere of Schnittke’s Double Concerto with the Guanajuato Symphony Orchestra. The duo’s debut album “Midnight Conversations” (Centaur Records) was greeted with enthusiastic reviews in both Europe and the US. A dedicated educator, Slavina is the co-founder and Artistic Director of the Xalapa International Piano Festival and Academy in Mexico.
Christy Casey (she/her) is an NYC-based experience designer & award-winning futurist whose work takes participants on transformative journeys. In addition to her experiential entertainment work as the founder of Ruse, she is researching the boundaries & intersections of imagination & belief and applies those principles to all kinds of experiences & gatherings. She has worked with Meow Wolf, Bose, For Freedoms, Alamo Drafthouse, NYU’s ITP Camp, LaGuardia Arts, and has been featured by BBC Futures, The Verge, No Proscenium, Broadway World.
Featured Pianists: David Friend, Walter F. Aparicio, Erika Dohi
Collective Artists: Justin Thyme Conyers-Beach (Livestream Tech), Timothy Peterson (composer), Julian Wild (singer/songwriter, actor, guitarist), Amanda Fink (mezzo-soprano), Logan Pitts (baritone), CodyRay Caho (baritone/performance-artist), Ana Milosavljevic (violin), Laura Dearman (dancer), Mary-Angela T. Granberry (dancer), Peter Ver Brugge (visual artist)