With Billion Oyster Project's Danielle Bissett

March 23, 2023
7:30 pm
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Just 30 years old, Gabriella Smith has developed into a tour-de-force artist and environmentalist whose enthralling, groundbreaking work not only connects listeners with the natural world but prompts action around climate solutions. Following their acclaimed Philharmonie de Paris performances, Smith (vocals, violin and electronics) and Gabriel Cabezas (cello and electronics) team up for selections from Lost Coast, their album that expresses Smith’s “grief, loss, rage, fear, and hopelessness experienced as a result of climate change—as well as the joy, beauty, and wonder I have felt in the world’s last wild places.” Danielle Bissett, the Billion Oyster Project’s Director of Restoration, will share about the collective effort to rebuild the natural resources and habitat of New York Harbor’s estuary - with 100 million live oysters restored to date! Artist Michael Wang, whose 2019 exhibition, Extinct in New York, features photos and illustrations of plant, lichen, and algae species which no longer grow wild in natural environments of New York City, will join the conversation, moderated by Elena Park.

This event is part of For Nature, three NS+ programs exploring the natural world with artists and musicians, scientists, and activists working to preserve and restore the environment. Curated by Elena Park, the events will spotlight works connected to ocean, land, and the animal kingdom; native and indigenous wisdom; and recent research and ways forward. For Nature is made possible by the generous support of Kathryn and Emmanuel Morlet and the Westcustogo Foundation.


Often topical and always imaginative, NationalSawdust+ is a lively performance and conversation series in which artists and thinkers share their passion for music and explore timely ideas, making surprising connections. Since National Sawdust’s inception, NS+ has been a home for intimate stories and unexpected artmaking, blurring boundaries between genres and disciplines.

NS+ taps luminaries from theater, film and visual art, literature, science and beyond, to create insightful programs that reflect their own interests. Guests have included Jad Abumrad, Ava DuVernay, Tiokasin Ghosthorse, Min-Jin Lee, Yo-Yo Ma, Nico Muhly, Carl Hancock Rux, Patti Smith, esperanza spalding, Carrie Mae Weems, Marina Abramovic + Laurie Anderson, and Caroline Shaw + Anthony Roth Costanzo + Gandini Juggling. Jeff Tang is consulting producer for the series.

“To be of use” by Marge Piercy
Copyright © 1973, 1982 by Marge Piercy
From CIRCLES ON THE WATER published by Alfred A Knopf
Used by permission of Robin Straus Agency, Inc.

“Natural Resources”. Copyright © 2016, 2013 by the Adrienne Rich Literary Trust.Copyright © 1978 by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., from COLLECTEDPOEMS: 1950-2012 by Adrienne Rich. Performed and recorded by permission ofThe Frances Goldin Literary Agency.

Gabriella Smith is a composer and environmentalist. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area playing and writing music, hiking, backpacking, and volunteering on a songbird research project. Whether for orchestras, chamber ensembles, voices, or electronics, Gabriella’s music comes from a love of play, exploring new sounds on instruments, building compelling musical arcs, and connecting listeners with the natural world. Recent highlights include the premiere of her organ concerto, Breathing Forests, written for James McVinnie and the LA Phil, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen; and the release of her first full-length album, Lost Coast, with cellist Gabriel Cabezas, named one of NPR Music’s “26 Favorite Albums Of 2021 (So Far)” and a “Classical Album to Hear Right Now” by The New York Times. The duo recently debuted a (cello-violin-voice-electronics) version of Lost Coast at the Philharmonie de Paris, which will be part of their NationalSawdust+ program; an orchestral arrangement of the work will be premiered with Cabezas and the LA Phil in May 2023, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.

Cellist Gabriel Cabezas is a true 21st century musician. A prolific and sought-after soloist and collaborator, he is as comfortable interpreting new works as he is with the pillar scores of the cello repertoire. Gabriel has appeared with America’s finest symphony orchestras, including those of Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, and New York, and has premiered dozens of new works by some of the most brilliant composers of his time. A member of the acclaimed chamber sextet yMusic, he is a co-founder of Duende, a new music and contemporary dance collective that focuses on the interaction between musicians and dancers in the realization of new scores. Gabriel has recorded extensively as a studio musician, appearing on releases by Phoebe Bridgers, John Legend, Rufus Wainwright, and Taylor Swift, and in 2016, he received the Sphinx Medal of Excellence, a career grant awarded to extraordinary classical Black and Latinx musicians, who, early in their professional career, demonstrate artistic excellence, outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination, and ongoing commitment to leadership. He studied at the Curtis Institute of Music under Carter Brey.

Billion Oyster Project is a nonprofit organization on a mission to restore oyster reefs to New York Harbor through public education initiatives. Founded on the belief that restoration without education is temporary, and observing that learning outcomes improve when students have the opportunity to work on real restoration projects, Billion Oyster Project collaborates with public schools, designing STEM curriculum through the lens of oyster restoration, and engaging Urban Assembly New York Harbor School students in large-scale restoration projects. As Director of Restoration, Danielle Bissett leads the organization’s efforts to restore self-sustaining oyster populations. She is an Ecological Restoration Practitioner and former Adjunct Professor with over 8 years of experience developing and managing a diverse portfolio of restoration projects throughout New York City, including stormwater runoff reduction through green infrastructure, invasive plant species management, stabilization of riverbanks through native plantings and large-scale construction, restoration of river herring and American eel migratory runs to the Bronx River via fish passages, and oyster monitoring and restoration.

Michael Wang is an artist based in Rockland County, New York. His practice uses systems that operate at a global scale as media for art, addressing climate change, species distribution, resource allocation and the global economy. Wang's work was the subject of solo exhibitions at Prada Rong Zhai, Shanghai (2022), LMCC's Arts Center at Governors Island, New York (curated by Swiss Institute, 2019) and the Fondazione Prada, Milan (2017). His work has also been included in Elevation 1049 in Gstaad (2023), the 13th Shanghai Biennale (2021), Manifesta 12 in Palermo (2018) and the XX Bienal de Arquitectura y Urbanismo in Valparaíso (2017). In 2017, he was a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant.

Throughout her colorful career, NationalSawdust+ director and curator Elena Park has moved freely through the worlds of arts, culture, and media. The daughter of Korean immigrants, she and her company Lumahai Productions embrace opportunities for artistic collaboration and social change with artists, thinkers, and communities as well as institutions, large and small.

Elena has served as director/executive producer for In Song video portraits featuring Pretty Yende and Jamie Barton (San Francisco Opera), Jake Heggie's Intonations (Cabrillo Festival), Vân-Ánh Võ (Stanford Live), and Cleveland Orchestra’s In Focus programs conducted by Alan Gilbert and Jane Glover. For the Metropolitan Opera, she is Executive Producer of the Saturday radio broadcasts and was Supervising Producer for the first 140 Live in HD shows. For San Francisco Opera, she is a Strategic Advisor and Curator of the new INSTIGATORS program. Other credits: San Francisco Symphony's MTT25: An American Icon, Bel Canto (feature film), Amazon's Mozart in the Jungle; Strategic Advisor for Cambodian Living Arts and Meyer Sound; Special Advisor for …(Iphigenia); and Artistic Consultant for the Kennedy Center.


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Mar 23

NS+ presents 'Regenerative Nature' with Gabriella Smith & Gabriel Cabezas with the Billion Oyster Project: Music from Lost Coast and more