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The Crossing Presents Motion Studies, Feat. World Premieres by Gabriel Kahane and Justine F. Chen

October 13, 2021 | By Katy Salomon
Account Director, Morahan Arts and Media

Contact: Katy Salomon | Morahan Arts and Media | 863.660.2214


The Crossing Presents 
Motion Studies

Featuring the World Premieres of Justine F. Chen’s 
Shallow Breath and Stealth and Gabriel Kahane’s 
Choral Music, Plus Nicholas Cline’s Watersheds 
with Saxophonist Matthew Levy

Sunday, November 21, 2021 at 5:00pm
The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill | Philadelphia, PA

“America’s most astonishing choir”
– The New York Times


PHILADELPHIA, PA (October 13, 2021) — Grammy Award-winning choir The Crossing, led by conductor Donald Nally, continues its 2021-2022 season with Motion Studies on Sunday, November 21, 2021 at 5:00pm at their home, The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. The program, which digs deep into 21st-century American life, features two world premieres, Justine F. Chen’s Shallow Breath and Stealth and Gabriel Kahane’s Choral Music, and includes the second performance and premiere of the revised version of Nicholas Cline’s Watersheds with Matthew Levy on the saxophone.

Justine F. Chen’s 30-minute Shallow Breath and Stealth (2021) is based on Jena Osman’s book Motion Studies, an extended poem that follows a couple hoping to live surveillance-free in a world obsessed with data collection. Osman will do a reading of Motion Studies on Thursday, November 18, 2021 at 7:00pm at Stotesbury Mansion. (Free. RSVP required, find it here.) Jena Osman is also the author of Corporate Relations, the book that inspired Ted Hearne’s Sound from the Bench, a 2014 commission of The Crossing that was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist.

Gabriel Kahane’s Choral Music (2021) is a scrapbook of his time as a high school choral singer, set against the backdrop of pre-9/11 American innocence. A personal musical memoir to which many can relate, Choral Music chronicles a time of anxious apprehension, chat rooms, self-awareness, and a blooming discovery of the power and beauty of choral music. Like Kahane’s well-known song catalogue, the text and music are organically married and strikingly frank and honest.

Saxophonist Matthew Levy joins The Crossing for Nicholas Cline’s Watersheds (2018), a work fueled by the words of outspoken environmental thinkers on how our shared spaces are created not by political borders, but by the flow of water. The first version of Watersheds premiered with the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble and Donald Nally at Northwestern University in 2018. Cline says, “Water witching is a way of coping with one’s environment under conditions of uncertainty and anxiety. The water witch – like the hydrogeologist – is concerned with imagining underground flows of water. As the spaces which separate the flow of water, watersheds define the borders of this shared resource. The texts juxtapose varied and distinctly American attitudes toward water.”

Conductor Donald Nally will lead a pre-concert talk in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill’s Burleigh Cruikshank Memorial Chapel with composers Justine F. Chen and Nicholas Cline at 4:00pm. A post-concert reception where audience members can meet the composers will immediately follow the performance at Widener Hall.

Program Information
Motion Studies Reading
Thursday, November 18, 2021 at 7:00pm
Stotesbury Mansion | 1923 Walnut Street | Philadelphia, PA 19103
 Free, RSVP required

Jena Osman, poet

Motion Studies
Sunday, November 21, 2021 at 5:00pm
The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill | 8855 Germantown Ave | Philadelphia, PA 19118
 General Admission $35, Seniors $25, Students $20

JUSTINE F. CHEN: Shallow Breath and Stealth (2021) [World Premiere]
NICHOLAS CLINE: Watersheds (2018)
GABRIEL KAHANE: Choral Music (2021) [World Premiere]

The Crossing
Donald Nally, conductor
Matthew Levy, tenor saxophone

Pre-concert talk with Donald Nally, Justine F. Chen, and Nicholas Cline at 4pm in the Burleigh Cruikshank Memorial Chapel. Meet the composers at a post-concert reception in Widener Hall.

About The Crossing
The Crossing is a Grammy Award-winning professional chamber choir conducted by Donald Nally and dedicated to new music. It is committed to working with creative teams to make and record new, substantial works for choir that explore and expand ways of writing for choir, singing in choir, and listening to music for choir. Many of its nearly 120 commissioned premieres address social, environmental, and political issues.

The Crossing collaborates with some of the world’s most accomplished ensembles and artists, including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra, Network for New Music, Lyric Fest, Piffaro, Beth Morrison Projects, Allora & Calzadilla, Bang on a Can, Klockriketeatern, and the International Contemporary Ensemble. Similarly, The Crossing often collaborates with some of world’s most prestigious venues and presenters, such as the Park Avenue Armory, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Pennsylvania, National Sawdust, David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, Disney Hall in Los Angeles, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Menil Collection in Houston, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Haarlem Choral Biennale in The Netherlands, The Finnish National Opera in Helsinki, The Kennedy Center in Washington, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space in New York, Winter Garden with WNYC, and Duke, Northwestern, Colgate, and Notre Dame Universities. The Crossing holds an annual residency at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky, Montana.

With a commitment to recording its commissions, The Crossing has issued 24 releases, receiving two GRAMMY® Awards for Best Choral Performance (2018, 2019), and six Grammy nominations. The Crossing, with Donald Nally, was the American Composers Forum’s 2017 Champion of New Music. They were the recipients of the 2015 Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence, three ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, and the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award from Chorus America.

Recently, The Crossing has expanded its choral presentation to film, working with Four/Ten Media, in-house sound designer Paul Vazquez of Digital Mission Audio Services, visual artists Brett Snodgrass and Steven Bradshaw, and composers David Lang, Michael Gordon, and Paul Fowler on live and animated versions of new and existing works. Lang’s protect yourself from infection and in nature as well as Paul Fowler’s Obligations, based on a poem of Layli Long Soldier, were specifically created to be within the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Crossing’s pandemic response daily series, Rising w/ The Crossing, a series of 72 live performances with notes by Nally, has been archived by the Library of Congress as “an important part of the collection and the historical record.”

The Crossing is represented by Alliance Artist Management. All of its concerts are broadcast on WRTI, Philadelphia’s Classical and Jazz public radio station. Learn more at

About Justine F. Chen
Theater is that collective experience in which participants gather to understand both the richness and injustice of human experience; it is where together, we mourn and celebrate. Chen's work strives to inform and engage, and to bring forth the reinvention of our expectations for our society.

?Always fascinated by the expressive possibilities of dramatic forms, Taiwanese-American composer Justine F. Chen draws inspiration from animation, film, theater, classical Indian dance and music, ballet, and contemporary dance.  Recent projects include a new chamber opera Seven Sisters (centering women, immigrant culture, and Taiwan) with librettist Stephanie Fleischmann, a choral work for The Crossing on data-mining (text by Jena Osman), a short film opera on modern-day heroes with Jacqueline Goldfinger, a modern retelling of Giovanni's Room with Iyun Ashani Harrison and Ballet Ashani, and The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing (librettist David Simpatico) commissioned by American Lyric Theater.

She has been commissioned and performed by WQXR, New York City Opera, New York City Ballet, The Juilliard School, JACK Quartet, American Composers Orchestra, New York Festival of Song, Washington Ballet, Long Leaf Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Tapestry Opera, and the Brooklyn Philharmonic. Learn more at

About Gabriel Kahane
The morning after the 2016 election, Gabriel Kahane boarded a train at New York’s Penn Station and traveled just under 9,000 miles around the continental United States, talking to dozens of strangers, eating plate after plate of three cheese tortellini, and drinking in the rich landscape of the country. The resulting album, Book of Travelers (Nonesuch), is an intimate musical travelogue, hailed by Rolling Stone as “a stunning portrait of a singular moment in America.”

A singer-songwriter, pianist, and composer, Kahane has over the last decade established himself as a distinct and penetrating voice in an array of cultural spaces. He is also a passionate Italophile, and will cheerily fight you over the proper emulsification technique involved in saucing pasta.

This season, Kahane begins a three-year term as the inaugural Creative Chair of the Oregon Symphony, which commissioned his 2018 oratorio, emergency shelter intake form. That work, which explores inequality through the lens of housing and homelessness, was performed last summer at the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago, and will be heard this season in performances by the Orlando Philharmonic, as well as by the Detroit and Milwaukee Symphonies. A commercial recording, featuring the Oregon Symphony, will be released in early 2020. Other highlights of the season include the premiere of Pattern of the Rail: Six Orchestral Songs from Book of Travelers with the Oregon Symphony and Louisville Orchestra, as well as solo concerts at the Luxembourg Philharmonie and Konservatoriets Koncertsal in Copenhagen, the latter under the auspices of a festival curated by the Danish String Quartet. In March, he welcomes Pulitzer Prize-winner (and master of egg cookery) Caroline Shaw as the guest of his new concert series, Open Music, presented by the Oregon Symphony. He reunites with Shaw in May for a collaborative concert with the Attacca Quartet at the Phillips Collection in Washington DC. A new choral work, co-commissioned by the LA Master Chorale and The Crossing, receives its world premiere at Disney Hall the same month.

A graduate of Brown University, Kahane lives in Brooklyn. Learn more at

About Nicholas Cline
Nicholas Cline makes music for voices, acoustic instruments, and by electroacoustic means. Deeply influenced by the natural world, his music draws on a broad range of subjects and experiences with the belief that music reveals, challenges, and shapes the listener’s understanding of the world. Upcoming projects include collaborating with The Crossing in a performance and recording of his work, Watersheds, for 24 voices, tenor saxophone, and live electronics.

Cline’s music has been performed by Spektral Quartet, International Contemporary Ensemble, Ensemble VONK, Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble, Northwestern Contemporary Music Ensemble, Jeff Siegfried, Jena Gardner, Square Peg Round Hole, Stare at the Sun, Constellation Men’s Ensemble, and F-Plus. He has presented his music at festivals and conferences in the US and in Europe and his work is featured on the SEAMUS electroacoustic miniatures recording series: Re-Caged.

Cline has been an artist-in-residence with High Concept Labs and the Chicago Park District. His principle teachers include Hans Thomalla, Chris Mercer, Jay Alan Yim, Aaron Travers, Don Freund, John Gibson, Jeffrey Hass, and Ilya Levinson. Cline studied at Northwestern University, Indiana University, and Columbia College Chicago. He lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina with his family and teaches composition and music theory at Appalachian State University. Learn more at

About Matthew Levy
Saxophonist, composer, curator, producer/engineer, and educator Matthew Levy has made an enduring contribution to contemporary music as co-founder and executive director of the world-renowned PRISM Quartet, and as a collaborator with other artists and ensembles for the past 35 years. Matt has been hailed by The Saxophone Journal as “a complete virtuoso of the tenor saxophone” and by The New York Times for his “energetic and enlivening” performances. He is the recipient of a 2016 Pew Fellowship in the Arts, as well as composition fellowships from the Independence Foundation and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He has scored four motion pictures, including PBS’s Diary of a City Priest, featured at the Sundance Film Festival. Matt has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, ECM, Naxos, Grammavision, Innova, Koch, Albany, BMOP/Sound, Tdzaik, New Dynamic, New Focus, and XAS. His music is highlighted on four PRISM recordings, including People’s Emergency Center (Best Jazz of 2014, PopMatters). Matt has premiered solo works by Emma O’Halloran, Paola Prestini, Renee Favand, Jacob Walls, Erin Busch, and David Ludwig; collaborated with a host of choreographers and dance companies, among them Peter Sparling, Scrap Performance Group, and Group Motion Dance Theater; is a member of the Network for New Music Ensemble and appeared as a guest artist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Dolce Suono Ensemble, and counter)induction. His work with PRISM has included tours of China, Russia, and Latin America; concerto appearances with the Cleveland Orchestra; and recital performances presented by Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. He teaches saxophone at Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania College House Program, and serves as a mentor for the Curtis Institute of Music’s Community Artist Program.

About Jena Osman
Jena Osman’s books of poems include Motion Studies (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2019), Corporate Relations (Burning Deck, 2014), Public Figures (Wesleyan University Press, 2012), The Network (Fence Books 2010, selected for the National Poetry Series in 2009), An Essay in Asterisks (Roof Books, 2004) and The Character (Beacon Press, winner of the 1998 Barnard New Women Poets Prize).

Osman was a 2006 Pew Fellow in the Arts, and has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Howard Foundation, and the Fund for Poetry. She has been a writing fellow at the MacDowell Colony, the Blue Mountain Center, the Djerassi Foundation, and Chateau de la Napoule.

She founded and edited the award-winning and internationally recognized literary magazine Chain with Juliana Spahr for twelve years; Osman and Spahr now edit the occasional ChainLinks Book series together.

Osman received an M.A. in poetry and playwriting from Brown University, and a Ph.D. in English from the Poetics Program at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She teaches in the MFA Creative Writing program at Temple University in Philadelphia.

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