That song cycle is Book of Longing, with texts taken from a collection of poems (under the same title) by the Canadian poet/musician/artist/legend Leonard Cohen. Set for four singers (SATB) and seven musicians, the work is presented in a staging by choreographer and director Susan Marshall that incorporates images of Cohen's own artwork. Book of Longing had its world premiere in June at Toronto's new Luminato festival and went on to Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston and the Lincoln Center Festival in New York; further performances are scheduled this fall at Stanford University and in Great Britain, the Netherlands and Spain.
In what organizers are calling a major coup, superstar ballerina Sylvie Guillem will appear at the Festival alongside contemporary British dancer and choreographer Akram Khan in a work titled Sacred Monsters. The piece, choreographed by Khan, is a series of solos and duets that juxtapose and combine elements of classical ballet, modern dance and the traditional Kathak form of northern India.
Other highlights of the NZIAF announced so far include the National Theatre of Scotland in Black Watch, a piece based on writer Gregory Burke's conversations with former soldiers who served in the Iraq War, and a keynote speech by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.
Held every two years in Wellington, the New Zealand International Arts Festival offers three weeks of music, theater, literature and visual arts at the end of the Southern Hemisphere summer. The 2008 festival will run from February 22 through March 16; the complete program will be announced on November 1 of this year. Further information is available at www.nzfestival.co.nz.