Woman in the Woods brings international artist DJ Spooky to Orcas Center

Submitted by Woman in the Woods Productions.

In September, we can get to know Paul D. Miller, who first rose to music prominence through his work as a deejay, using turntables to create sound effects, mixes, and new music. Under the stage name “DJ Spooky” he helped pioneer, and then came to embody, the idea of deejays as artists in their own right.

He will perform Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. and Sept. 26 at 4 p.m. at Orcas Center.

While Miller became known for his pioneering work “remixing” sounds, his career has followed multiple musical paths as a composer, record producer, and author. He has recorded a huge volume of music and collaborated with a vast array of recording artists, ranging from Metallica to Chuck D; Steve Reich to Yoko Ono. In 2013, he was the first Artist in Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Over the years, Miller has broadened his focus beyond music into other artistic arenas and is known as a multimedia artist, speaker, philosopher, and author. His work has appeared in museums and galleries throughout the world.

DJ Spooky will bring to Orcas Island “Rebirth of a Nation,” his 2004 cinematic remix of D.W. Griffith’s groundbreaking 1915 silent film “The Birth of a Nation.” He retained the silent film motif and composed a musical drama for strings which was first performed by the internationally known Kronos Quartet.

“Rebirth” was commissioned by the Lincoln Center Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, Wiener Festwochen, and the Festival d’Automne à Paris. It was an interesting artistic project on many levels, especially given the notoriety that stemmed from the unvarnished racism of the 1915 film but also given the credit it received for helping develop the film medium. Griffith was one of the first movie directors to move to Hollywood, and in 1919 was one of the four founders of United Artists (along with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Charlie Chaplin). He has been called “the Man Who Invented Hollywood.” But as DJ Spooky shows, Griffith also was an unrepentant racist. “Birth of a Nation” helped stimulate the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan, and for half a century was used as a recruitment film for the Klan.

For the Orcas Center performances, the music DJ Spooky composed to accompany Rebirth will be performed by a quartet of local artists: Pamela Wright, Holly King and Scott Heisinger (whom you may have enjoyed performing together as the string trio Tres Voci) plus guest violinist Dr. Rachel Bishop.