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Press Releases

800-Year-Old Music Drama Still Relevamt and Vital – 'The Play of Daniel' at The Cloisters, Jan. 11-20, 2013

November 30, 2012 | By Nancy Shear Arts Services
Over two weekends in January, twelve intrepid groups of musical travelers will be transported eight centuries back in time to experience "The Play of Daniel" in the unique environs of The Cloisters Museum and Gardens, the branch of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. Concerts at The Cloisters will present "The Play of Daniel" in the Fuentidueña Chapel at The Cloisters – 99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tryon Park, in Manhattan – Fridays through Sundays, January 11th-13th and 18th-20th, 2013, with two performances each day, at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $75.

Gotham Early Music Scene (GEMS) will reassemble this musical time machine with the same creative team responsible for sold-out performances at The Cloisters in 2008. That staging commemorated the 50th anniversary of the work’s modern premiere in 1958, also at The Cloisters, by Noah Greenberg and New York Pro Musica, widely regarded as a seminal event in the North American early music movement. Once again, audiences will journey to the late 1100’s, when "The Play of Daniel" came into existence, planting the seeds for the flowering of opera four centuries later.

This 12-performance run of "The Play of Daniel" will be the culmination of a series of celebratory concerts in honor of GEMS’ fifth anniversary.

Age-old issues of politics and power will resonate with modern audiences in an elaborate, fully-staged production, with singers, instruments, dancers, scenery, costumes and lighting. "The Play of Daniel" tells two stories from the Old Testament, from Chapters 5 and 6 of the Book of Daniel: Belshazzar’s Feast, in which Daniel interprets the infamous “handwriting on the wall”; and his being sentenced to death in the Lions’ Den, from which he is rescued by an angel.

“For modern audiences, the play offers a timeless look at the consequences of ‘speaking truth to power,’” says Gene Murrow, Executive Director of GEMS, “as well as an important moment in the history of musical story-telling that would ultimately lead to the development of opera. Working with the diverse talents and resources available in New York’s early music community to present 'The Play of Daniel' is, in many respects, the perfect example of what GEMS is all about.”



A Gotham Early Music Scene production Presented by Concerts at The Cloisters The Cloisters Museum and Gardens, a branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art | 99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tryon Park, Manhattan

Fridays through Sundays, January 11th-13th and 18th-20th, 2013 | Performances each day, at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

Tickets are $75, available at the Concerts and Lectures kiosk in the Great Hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street); by phone at 212/650-2290, or online at:

Seating is limited.

Mary Anne Ballard and Drew Minter, directors

As part of its 75th anniversary year celebration, The Cloisters reprises the critically-acclaimed production of "The Play of Daniel" ("Ludus Danielis") commissioned and presented by Concerts at The Cloisters in 2008. The mystery play, telling the story of the prophet Daniel interpreting the handwriting on the wall and his miraculous delivery from the lions’ den, was written in Beauvais, France, in the twelfth century to celebrate the Feast of Fools, traditionally held around the beginning of the new year. Performed entirely in Latin, combining chanted drama, lively music on medieval instruments, dance, and sung processions, the GEMS production brings together many of New York’s finest period instrumentalists and singers.

For more information about The Play of Daniel, go to:

To see scenes from the 2008 production of The Play of Daniel at The Cloisters, go to:


About GEMS Gotham Early Music Scene, Inc. (GEMS) is a not-for-profit corporation that enhances the quality and financial stability of participating artists and organizations by:

• providing administrative, marketing, financial, and other support services to professional and amateur performing groups, institutions, presenters, and other organizations interested in early music; • securing paid touring engagements throughout North America for New York-based early music artists; • increasing audience size and diversity by enhanced publicity and access to early music events; and • educating the public and the media about early music.

Founded in 2007 by a small group of leading figures in New York musical circles to serve and promote New York’s early music community, GEMS has, in this short time:

• presented 91 New York City ensembles in concert, including an annual fall series showcasing established and emerging artists; • provided adminstrative, marketing, and logistical services to more than 144 NYC cultural organizations and artists; • exhibited at 14 national arts conferences and booked 101 paid nationwide engagements for NYC musical ensembles via its GEMS Live! Agency; • provided well-paid engagements under Local 802 union contracts to dozens of professional musicians; • served tens of thousands of audience members (more than 1,800 of whom received free tickets); • taught more than 320 children the basics of music through its S’Cool Sounds semester-long elementary school teaching programs; and • helped launch several new early music initiatives, including OperaOmnia, 4x4 Baroque Concerts, Salon/Sanctuary Concerts, and Sinfonia New York.

The result of these and other efforts is the recognition by musicians, audiences, and patrons that New York has reasserted its postion as a major center of early music activity in the world.

With a budget of over $350,000, a Board of nine distinguished professionals, and a staff of six, GEMS is supported by The New York State Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, several foundations, and a large roster of individual donors.

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NOT FOR PUBLICATION: For additional information, CDs, photographs or interview access, please contact: Nancy Shear Arts Services, National Press Representative, Tel: 212/496-9418,




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